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Good rates if you're choosy and helpful staff too
Member Name: bobbieal
Advantages: Good rates on some accounts; helpful, friendly staff
Disadvantages: Some accounts can only be opened in branch
Let me start by saying that I am not Welsh and I do not live in Wales. Odd then that I should choose to have accounts with the Principality Building Society, Wales' only Building Society, based in Cardiff. Simply, they had, and still have, great rates on certain products and I like to get a good rate if I can.
I've had an account with the Prinicipality since 2005. I started with a regular monthly saver account, at a great rate of interest, opened an internet savings account (also at a good rate) and have opened and closed various similar accounts over the last 6 years to get the best rate. Currently, I have an ESaver issue 4 (2.85% - not quite top of the ratings at the moment, but pretty darn close) and a monthly saver account at 4%. Unfortunately, the most recent versions of the monthly saver account (also at 4%) is only available to open in branches, so, unless you happen to live in Wales or be travelling there, it's not a possibility (I did try to get one opened by post, but the criteria for opening are rigid).
The Principality also offer a 'Dylan Regular Saver' for kids under 18. You can put away up to £150 per month for a year and get 4.50% interest. A pretty good deal and one that is only beaten by the Halifax Kids regular saver (6%). This can be opened by post and I found it very easy to Email via the Principality website, get the forms sent to me and to apply.
I have found their online system easy to use. I am very computer literate, but I think this is one that even my technophobe mother could manage. Not all the accounts can be accessed online - for me, it is only my E Savers that have been accessible. It would be great if the system were updated so that I could at least see, if not transact, all of my accounts when I log in.
I have no borrowings with the Principality and so cannot comment on their mortgages.
My experience over the last 6 years has been that the staff are very efficient, timely and helpful. I have had conversations by phone and correspondence by Email and letter. Even as a non-Welsh person (I am married to a Welshman, but don't share his surname, so there are no clues to allow me to get extra preferential treatment as a spouse of a Welshman), I have found none of the anti-English attitudes mentioned in other reviews - just decent, helpful people. Even when I have asked to do fairly complex things on the maturity of multiple accounts, they have done as I asked and done it in a timely fashion.
Like almost all UK deposit takers, the Principality is covered by the FSCS deposit takers compensation scheme which means, in the unlikley event that they should 'do an Icesave' and go bust, the FSCS will refund 100% for your savings with them up to £85,000 (double for joint deposits). the FSCS is effectively backed by the UK government; if it were to fail to pay out in the event of a banking collapse, it would mean major disaster for the UK economy. So, even though the Principality is a much smaller institution than, say, Barclays Bank, your savings really are safe up to the FSCS limit.
Be careful when choosing your accounts and you will get a good deal.
Summary: A good little building society with full FSCS protection and some cracking rates too