Newest Review: ... by slightly different legislation to the banks. They are not allowed to take part in some of the more risky types of investment instrum... more
N&P works fine for me
Norwich & Peterborough Building Society
Member Name: bobbieal
Norwich & Peterborough Building Society
Advantages: Free debit card use abroad and some great regular saver rates.
Disadvantages: Not all savings accounts pay good interest rates and no interest on current account credit balances.
The Norwich and Peterborough Building Society (N&P) merged with the Yorkshire Building Society in 2011. Its head office is in Peterborough, but the group's head office is in Bradford. N&P is now just a trading name of the Yorkshire, but offers quite different products to the others parts of the Yorkshire group.
The Yorkshire Building Society is the 2nd biggest building society in UK (out of 47) with assets of £33,177 million (as of Dec 2011; source - Building Societies Association). It is protected by the FSCS, meaning that all savings up to £85,000 per person are fully guaranteed by the government in the unlikely event that the Yorkshire were to go bust. It is worth noting that all your accounts with the Yorkshire group are included in this £85,000, so add up everything you have with N&P, Yorkshire, Chelsea and Barnley building societies when calculating how much you have in the Yorkshire group.
The Yorkshire (and hence N&P) is owned by its members (it's a mutual society) and so has no share-holders. While this might seem quite a minor difference, it means that there are no big investors baying for huge profits at the expense of the customer, as could happen with high street banks like Lloyds, HSBC etc. It also means that they are governed by slightly different legislation to the banks. They are not allowed to take part in some of the more risky types of investment instruments, such as some derivatives trading, and they are only allowed to speculate if it is to minimize their risk, Whereas the big banks, as we all know, can speculate on a huge variety of instruments and often derive their profits from this speculation.
The advantage of this for the members (all borrowers and savers are members of the society subject to meeting certain minimum criteria) is that there are not likely to be any nasty surprises in the form a huge trading loss, and that any profits can be kept within the building society rather than being paid out to external investors.
I have been a customer of the N&P Building Society for about 20 years. I have had a number of savings accounts and current accounts with them over the years.
I tend to try to open my accounts with the N&P online, although I do pop in to one of their branches from time to time, if I am in the area. They have 45 branches, mostly in the Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge area. The staff have always been friendly and helpful, although I find that they like to stick to what they know; so if I have something a bit out of the ordinary to do, I try to do it by post at head office.
The N&P does have some very good accounts. Currently (October 2012), they have several high paying regular savings accounts with their E-Family regular saver and Gold regular saver accounts both paying 5% fixed for a year. That's a great rate. However, the one catch is, once you have had one, you can never have another one again - it's a one shot account, if you like. N&P also has other regular savers paying 4% - also a very good rate - but with the same 'one time only' catch. Having said that, get one for a year and enjoy the interest rate.
The N&P also offers a steady-eddy E-saving account paying 2.50% for instant access (October 2012). Of course, like all building societies, it has its share of poor accounts - for example the NetMasterGold Saver II, which only pays 0.35% - so it pays to check out the rates before deciding where to put your hard earned cash.
There is also a range of cash ISAs (the N&P does not offer JISAs nor stocks and shares ISAs), but none of these is remarkable, all paying decent but far from table-topping rates.
N&P offers 2 current accounts - Gold Classic and Gold Lite. Both accounts have minimum activity requirements to avoid paying a £5 per month fee - for the Classic you have to pay in a minimum of £500 per month and for the Lite you must make 5 transactions a month. Although neither account pays interest on credit balances, they both have the advantage of free card usage abroad (so you can take cash out of an ATM or pay in a shop without that sneaky 2.5% extra charge being added on top) and they offer free Sentinel protection for your keys, cards and documents. The accounts do all the usual things - direct debits, standing orders, cheque book, debit card etc. While I don't use my N&P current account as my main account, I do like to know that I have my cards protected for free and I do use my N&P debit card for all my overseas transactions.
The N&P offers a reasonable credit card, a variety of mortgages (including discount and fixed rates) and insurance. I have not used them for these products; although I have obtained insurance quotes, I have always found that I could get the same or better cover cheaper elsewhere.
I use the N&Ps internet banking and find it easy to use and efficient. Nothing too exciting, but it does what I want it to do, so I cannot complain.
In short, the N&P offers some good savings accounts and offers one of the only UK current accounts to offer a debit card that is free to use abroad. It's definitely worth considering, especially if you holiday abroad.
My reviews may also appear on Ciao and other sites under the same user name.
© BobbieAl 2012
Summary: Good solid building society with some cracking deals if you look carefully
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