I have been with Smile almost since they started? over 15 years. Overall they have been a very good bank to have been with. We have never had any serious problems to speak of, but watching the account as I do, I feel it has become a lot less competitive, particularly of late. For example they used to give us free MacAfee protection, but that has now gone. The fees on the account are also higher, I can forgive that as I know the banks have had a pounding as a result of PPI, so are trying to make money elsewhere. However, once I started looking around at other accounts, they look much more attractive, with the 'add ons' that they offer and the cashbacks etc. My other half though wanted to stay with Smile, but I have gradually convinced her that he way forward is for us to change to another current account provider. I will be sorry to leave, but the fact is that Smile is not doing anything for us, and other accounts will.
After reading alot of positive feedback about Smile, I transferred all my banking to Smile. Unfortunately I have had nothing but inflexibility and unhelpfulness from their customer services.
For example Godaddy put a transaction through by accident, taking me overdrawn by about £30, I called Smile, and informed them that the transaction was being refunded immediately and transferred £120 to my account, which cleared on the same day. I shouldn't have bothered, for the privilege I've been charged £30 unpaid excess, and a £20 service charge.. and they are totally inflexible about it. It's disgusting that they charge so much - it's legalised robbery..
Really disappointed with them - and would strongly recommend that you go with anyone other than them..
I also find their online interface badly laid out, and think the way they display your online balance as a bit unclear.
I'll be heading to First Direct myself.
A long ago I decided it was time to re-evaluate my current account, after plodding along with Barclays for many a year it was time for a change.
Being the 'net-head that I am a good online service was the highest on my list of priorities.
After a few days worth of research I took the plunge and applied for a Smile current account. Not only did they have a good online presence, and an interest rate comparable to their savings account, they also practice ethical investment, more details on their investment policies can be found on their website at www.smile.co.uk
--The application process
The application process was harmless enough, filling in various forms with personal data, plus about 5 security questions (birthplace, memorable name, etc). The whole process only took about 10 minutes.
Once the application is complete they set up a secure message area for you (which is accessed via their website) so they can leave you messages regarding the progress of your application, sending you an email whenever there is a new message. This secure message area is also used when your account is open.
Once of the big hassles of changing current account is moving all your direct debits around. To get rid of this headache Smile offers an account switching service. Basically this involves signing a form which they send to you that gives them permission to request all the direct debit details from your old current account provider. They then contact all the companies and set the new direct debits up for you. I think I only had to manually switch a few myself.
The online service itself is very good allowing you to view all your smile product details in one place (if you have more than one that is) and get details on all your accounts. There are also facilities to view all your direct debits and standing orders, very helpful if you want to see when all your money is going to desert you for another company! The bill payment system is also available, allowing you to pay bills to any company in the UK. A money transfer option can be used to, so if you know the sort code and account number of another bank account you can move money to it with a few clicks of your mouse. With these last two options the Smile system remembers the details you entered, and these become options you can just click on send 'X' amount of money to, cutting down the amount of time you spend managing you money. You can send secure message to smile from here as well, but like most people if I want to contact the bank I prefer to phone, and this option is available as well.
-- What you get with your current account
Just the usual I'm afraid, a cheque book and a debit card, both emblazoned with the Smile logo (a black smile on a pink background). Sometimes you feel a bit odd handing out pink cheques but you get used to it. The debit card is the usual flavour, being a pastel/metallic blue colour with the Smile logo in the corner along with all the relevant numbers.
The card had VISA/Delta facilities as well, indicated by their appropriate logos as well.
-- Paying money in
Obviously with no branches paying in actual physical money in (cheques or cash) could be a problem. However these days most bank will allow you to deposit money for other banks in thier branches. Also Smile have a nice agreement with the Post office so you can pay money in there as well. You can also order freepost envelopes so you can send cheques in by mail accompanied by one of the paying in slips handily provided in the back of your cheque book.
--The final say
Overall I don't think I could have asked for a more suited current account.
- A few last comments about Smile
Smile is this internet banking arm of the Co-Operative Bank so you know you are entering in to a long standing firm, not just the latest fad.
If you decide you want to take a look you can find Smile not in the High Street but at
I switched to Smile from HSBC a few years ago, primarily because of the fact they only invest ethically. One other happy consequence is that the interest on the current account was higher (confirmed again today by a quick glance at the Money section of the newspaper but obviously check yourself!).
No regrets at all since then.
Smile are an online bank so all transactions take place online - checking balances, manging transfers etc... and they make it very easy for you. In addition to the online account you can telephone them (a call centre in Britain) and they seem to be able to do everything for you over the phone that you can do yourself online. You can also visit any branch of the Co-Op Bank for face to face assistance, to pay in cheques and so on.
For me, interest rates aside, this is what differentiates banks and Smile have never left me anything but, erm, Smiling. Whether via the Co-Op Bank, over the telephone or online they've always been prompt and polite. Two examples:
- when I had issues with theft abroad they couldn't have been any nicer or quicker to help me resolve it
- whenever I post a query online I get an answer within hours - I don't know what their target is but I don't think I've ever waited more than a few hours...certainly by the end of the next working day there's always an answer waiting for me.
I couldn't recommend them any higher.
I closed an account well over 12 months ago because this bank was hopeless.They didnt close it and paid a debit (it ,must be some yearly thing I had completely overlooked) a few months after I told them to close the account - I know I closed it leaving it clear.They phoned me the other day to say i was overdrawn £130!!I have paid the amount of the debit 116.20 but refuse to pay the interest they have added as it should have been closed when i asked.They still refuse to close the account - how stupid is that? No doubt they will add interest to the interest.They also threaten me with debt collectors for the £20 interest their incompetence has created.A truly appalling excuse for a bank and nothing to smile about at all.Steer clear.
This bank is rubbish when it comes to customer service. I recently intended to change to smile from cahoot, but glad I didn't. I even arranged for all my direct debits and standing orders to be changed over.They said that this would take about 2 weeks but in reality would have taken six. I am glad that I kept my cahoot account open as I have now closed the smile account. When I rang to close the account the person at the other end did not seem too concerned and did not ask for any reason.
When we moved a few months ago now I realised very quickly that gaining access to the bank I hold my main account with was going to be a nightmare with my nearest branch being over an hours drive away. This teamed with the fact that I had received a cheque from my previous local council with both mine and my other half's name on lead me to thinking I should open up a new bank account.
There are a few banks nearby such as Lloyds and RBS. However, I was intrigued at the idea of joining a bank account that was purely online which is when I decided to look in to Smile. My parents have been using Smile, which is part of the Co-Op, for a few years now and knew they had been happy with the service living in a fairly rural area like I now am.
I decided to apply for a joint savings account through the smile website as the interest was fairly reasonable (as reasonable as you can get now a days) and it was fairly easy to do. You just need to fill in a few pages of forms giving them some basic information. They keep in contact throughout the application process via emails and a messaging system on their site which you log onto. For your application you do need to send off items to smile such as verified copies of your passport and proof of address. Throughout the application process it all felt very safe and at no point did I feel uncomfortable sending out these details. Opening a new account I presume would be a fairly quick process. However, as I wasn't in a rush to open a new account I took my time sending items off, though they were always quick to update me and let me now what was happening.
The smile website itself is very easy to use, whether you're applying for a new account, checking an account you already have or just looking for some help or information. For the guys: Don't let the website put you off because it's pink! Logging into your account feels fairly secure with reasonable security questions. However, it doesn't involve the need for a card reader. Some people will find this to be a plus point, though I prefer the card readers as it just adds that extra security. Also what's great about Smile is that everything is online and any paperwork sent to you is kept to the absolute minimum, this is a great way to help the environment. I hate how at this time of year I'm being sent lots of statements and updates to terms and conditions which I'm never really too bothered about. It just adds to the paper trail lying around my house.
What makes banking with Smile so easy is the fact that you have so many options. When it comes to paying in your money you can send Smile cheques through the post, you can pay cash and cheques in at Co-Op banks and you can also pay cheques and cash in at a Post Office. Paying in a cheque at the Post Office is so simple to do as you place your cheque(s) and pay slip into an envelope Smile provide, you take it to the Post Office and are given a receipt as proof you handed it in. That's all you need to do, so its super simple for making your banking experience easier! This is particularly handy if you live in a rural area where you're more likely to find a Post Office than a bank! Via the post office you can also withdraw £250 a day.
So far I have not had any dealings with the customer service team but as I said previously my parents have been using them for quite awhile now and have nothing but praise for Smile. So far transfers and cashing cheques have taken no longer than any other account which is great. All in all I am very pleased!
I would definitely recommend Smile as it's so easy to use and in particular I would recommend it for people who don't live near a bank but have a Post Office in the vicinity. The site is very easy to navigate and unless I have a bad experience (and if I do you will be the first to know!) I have nothing but praise for Smile and it now means I can pay any Dooyoo cheques I may get into a bank account without having to drive for over an hour!
I have been a smile customer since I was a university student in 2002. I switched from HSBC and I have not regretted it for a second. Although they don't have a branch network of their own you can pay money in at the post office or at cooperative bank branches. It is better for the environment as you don't get sent statements or junk mail.
The only downside that I have found is that if you call after 8pm your calls are answered by the cooperative bank. This is not a problem for simple queries; however for more complex tasks they often struggle as they don't often deal with smile accounts. That being said that has only happened to me twice in the time I have been with the bank and the staff have always made a note of my query and got back to me the next day.
One tip for smile account holders as as far as I am aware this is not widely known - become cooperative members (it costs about a pound). You will then earn cooperative points for having a smile account. I get about £6 back a year because of this - not a huge amount but money for nothing.
I first became a member of SMILE in 2004 as I was keen to have bank access to suit the needs of my busy day.
SMILE was my first choice of internet bank as I was aware that they had an excellent customer reputation and importantly to me also, they only invested in ethical practices with their money. This made them smaller than the big players...but it did let my conscience rest at night...if we consider what has happened recently with the so called credit crunch, SMILE as a bank was unaffected and actually...made a profit!
To access SMILE you need access to the internet, but they do also have a phone option, should you be caught somewhere without it. The phone service takes you through security log in questions before you get to speak to someone, but it is very very slow. On the few occasions that I have had to call, I have been left on hold for up to fifteen minutes.
The website is very secure and has an easy to navigate feel to it. After you have logged in (which requires three steps of security) you are presented with a notice board, keeping you updated of any news we may need to know as customers, which also then has links to your account pages.
The pages are easy to navigate and you learn quickly how best to use them, you cannot for example, use the arrow keys to move back and forth when the page is open. If you do this, the system logs you out. AT first that appears frustrating, but when you realise that they are trying to protect your security and details, you give them the credit they rightly deserve.
Security is of paramount importance to SMILE and it has always impressed me a great deal. Last year when I went to Australia for a holiday, I had not told my bank I was going. When I attempted to use my card there they blocked it. They politely informed me that had I let them know that I was going, they would have ensured that my card would always be ready to use. Again, although this caused me some frustration at first, when I took into account that they were only trying to protect my money...I was actually very pleased.
The most positive aspect of the account is the message centre. I really like this as it puts you in direct contact with bank staff. If you send a message to them, they usually respond within a day. It is surprisingly quick and in my opinion, much better than hanging around on the phone on hold!
There are two things that need to be improved upon to make it even better.
Firstly, they should give clear guidance as to how long the cheques will take to cash, I have always been amazed at the different answers I get...is it three days, five days...six days? No one seems to know! The best way to pay a cheque in is in a branch of the co-operative bank. Do not be tempted to post one as this can then take up to ten days to clear...ouch!
Also, I would like the transactions to appear quicker on my account. Sometimes things don't appear for a few days and I think that I have more money than I actually do!
All in all though it is by far the best experience of banking that I have had over a number of years. There is a feeling of excellent customer focus and ensuring that I spend within my means, I really like for example that it does not matter how hard you try...you simply cannot take more money out than your agreed overdraft!
Well done SMILE and well done the Co-operative bank for being innovative with their online banking. I recommend it.
We use smile for all of our day to day banking as well as savings and only have good things to say about them. Their website is easy to use and navigate around and it is very convenient to just be able to pop onto it to set up a transfer or payment. All past payments are stored making it even easier to make later payments to the same place.
Cash can be paid in and withdrawn at the Post Office and cheques can be paid in at any Post Office, Co-op bank branch or by post. It is so much more convenient to just pop cheques in the post then have to go to your nearest branch, queue up etc.! We have never had a cheque go astray in the post.
Communication by phone or via the website is responded to promptly and usefully.
Last but not least, unlike all high street banks, they have a clear ethical policy which all members are given a chance to vote on. Their rates are always consistently good, if not table topping, so why not change to smile!
I have been a smile.co.uk customer for well over 3 years. Smile.co.uk is part of The Co-operative Group and Bank. I used to work as a trainer for Co-op and would cover the different business areas on employees Inductions. I would talk about smile.co.uk and all the benefits of using Internet banking generally and more specifically what sets smile.co.uk apart from the rest. Then it occured to me that perhaps I should join smile so I can talk in more depth to my inductees and receive all the great benefits!
Smile.co.uk has one of the best customer service staff I have ever come across! Everytime I phone up to transfer money or ask a question they answer propmply and professionally. Also if you have a social conscience then perhaps Smile may fit the bill as it is widely established as an 'ethical' company and has lots of awards (check it out on smile.co.uk). Also as mentioned Smile is pary of the Co-operative group which again as a society has ethical values and principles.
The layout of your Banking Info page is very user friendly and if you have a credit card/ISA/saving account as well as a current account you will see the info all on one helpful page.
Also its worth mentioning when you sign up for a current account you get an automatic 500 pound overdraft. Recently I tried to reduce it (as I found I was always tempted to spend it!) and they informed me they halfed it but I soon realised they had not and so with my complete lack of self-control soon starting finishing the month with -500 in my account! - Oh well, I can hardly blame Smile for my mismanagement of money!
Overall I would highly recommend this bank. They really look after their customers and as long as you are near a post office you can do all your physical banking errands just there!
I have had a smile current account for about 5 years now, when me and my husband moved in together this was the joint account that we opened. We have had the Smilemore account for a short while, but soon changed back to the regular (and free) current account as we found the benefits such as breakdown cover and travel insurance etc weren't being used enough to warrant paying the monthly charge. Since opening this account we have had second bank accounts with other banks, namely Alliance and Leicester and First Direct, and I must say that neither of these came close to matching the service I get from Smile. The main good point of the bank I think is that you get access to your account online, and there is also a UK call centre which is open 24 hours and after punching in your sort code and account number you get put through to a real person, any time of day. I have always found them to be helpful sorting out problems and doing everything they can for you. Its also an added bonus that you can pay in cheques and cash at a Post Office, which is really handy for me as I live in a village (which has a post office but no banks!) and the nearest branch of Coop bank is in the town, which I would have to drive to. If you pay in cash at a post office it gets credited to your account immediately, unlike Alliance and Leicester who won't credit you until the next day. That's really handy if something unexpected takes you over your overdraft limit and you need to pay in some cash before the end of the day so you don't get charged!! The website is easy to use, ok it may not look as flash as some of the other ones but it does the job. The only gripe I would have (and this really doesn't bother me - but it might some people) is that on your recent items list you don't have a running balance, just the balance at that point in time shown at the top of the screen. Once a statements gets produced with those items on it, then you get the running balance next to them. Smile are fairly quick at replying to the Secure Messages through the internet banking (a lot quicker than some people!) but if you phone you normally get the issue sorted straight away. One other point to mention is that Smile as yet don't operate the Faster Payments service for receiving payments.
I don't think the interest rates on the accounts are that great, but I wouldn't move to another bank offering higher interest rates as the service that Smile gives is second to none.
Smile is an internet bank but is owned by the Co-operative bank. It seemed to spring up around 10 years ago as the internet grew in popularity and became more widely available. I have been banking with Smile for around 6 or 7 years now. Initially we only had a credit card with them but after a couple of years we decided to switch over to them completely.
Originally we were attracted to Smile due to their low interest rates for credit cards and the large amount of benefits they seem to offer. We found the credit card to be very good so when we found out about their 'Smile More' account we decided to make this our current account. The Smile More account is a normal current account with some added benefits. You may a monthly fee (currently £12) but for this you get an interest free £260 overdraft (and fee free up to £500), reduced rate of interest on your loans and credit cards and an increased amount of interest on any savings accounts you have. You also get some extras like travel insurance, Green Flag breakdown cover and discounts with some shops/websites. This is all pretty good for £12 a month! They also offer a standard current account if you prefer as well as mortgages, loans, savings, ISA's, etc.
The other thing that appealed to us about Smile was their customer service and ease of use. As they are an internet bank, they don't have any branches. Instead, you can send cheque pay-ins by post or pay-in cheques and cash at any Post Office. If you need to contact the bank you can do so very easily by the secure messaging service on the web or by phone. The internet banking site is also extremely easy to use and navigate and I've found it to be much better than similar internet banks such as Egg. Any time we've needed to contact the bank they have been very quick to reply and extremely helpful and efficient.
I wrote this on helphound.com aswell.
I have been a Smile customer for 5 years, having a Current Account and Visa Credit card. Until the last year or so I was very impressed with them - any questions were dealt with on the secure message service promptly and efficiently. The phone service was also good, extremely friendly and courteous. However, recently I have noticed an increase in the response time on the message service [up to 5 days] and waiting time on their money-making 0870 contact number tediously long. In April I made a simple request via message service to change my Visa card payment date to one early in the month to help my cashflow as I am paid at the end of the month. To cut a long story short, they appear to not know how to intervene and make changes to their system. I complied with their request to make an early payment in order to get the cycle in sync. I borrowed money in order to do this. They did not pick this up and made no changes. I meanwhile was prompted by their system to pay by my old date. I told them this, they failed to respond, my account was suspended with demands for outrageous payments by the wrong date. Finally had a letter a month ago claiming that they had finished their enquiries and had rectified the problem. They had not and my Visa page is still covered in 'red ink'. My replies to their letter have thus far been ignored. What have I done to deserve this? I had been loyal customer with a 'clean history'. Its sad that such a good friendly organisation has degenerated into this.
With banks, there is always more than two arguments as to whether the account is right for you. My side is for someone that has always been in credit and never used the overdraft facility.
The account was opened probably 5 or 6 years ago and I was suprised how easy this was. They supply you with a chequebook and a debit card.
Since then, I really haven't had any problems with the account.
The website is easy to use, although I am a big user of the 'back button' in web browsers, I sometimes get caught out by clicking this when I am logged in. Smile log you out if you use the back button.
You are presented with a list of items they provide. Next to your current account will be the amount you have (or don't have!) and there will be others listed, such as smilemore account, credit card and loans.
You can apply easily for any of these. So far, I have successfully and simply applied for a loan and a credit card, though not at the same time.
They offer a smilemore account with a monthly fee and some bells and whistles but really, don't bother, those bells and whistles can probably be bought cheaper than the £10 a month they charge (fee correct last time I checked).
They are very good at providing you with most information, however I refuse to use the overdraft facility as it seems virtually impossible to see what the interest rate is, although they clearly show that I have a £500 authorised overdraft.
Day-to-day transactions are all very simple, moving your money out is easy - as long as you have the account details of the person you are sending money to, it is very quick and simple.
The interest rate offered on credit accounts is not that great (2.75%) and as such I cannot really recommend them to people who are prepared to shop around every six months. However, if you are the type that opens an account and keeps it for years, then I would recommend these. At least they haven't followed other banks and dropped the rate to 0.1%. This is a good thing. Of course, you could open a Smile savings account or ISA, but then again, others are offering higher rates as well.
I cannot remember having to call them, so although I cannot comment on their phone skills, I can comment that you shouldn't need to contact them often.