First Direct PULLS its current account and £100 switch bonus for new customers as it focuses on existing ones amid coronavirus outbreak
The HSBC-owned bank has said its current account is ‘temporarily unavailable’It has 1.45m customers and is known for its top customer serviceHSBC and NatWest have also pulled switch bonuses as banks focus on ‘unprecedented’ demands from existing customers for helpCoronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
First Direct has pulled its current account from sale as it focuses on its existing customers ‘and their immediate financial needs’ amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The telephone and online-only bank, known for its top-rated customer service and £100 switch bonus to newcomers, has around 1.45million customers.
It said on its website: ‘We have taken the decision to withdraw First Direct current accounts to new customers. We hope this will only be a temporary measure’.
First Direct previously offered new customers £100 to switch to it
It added: ‘The coronavirus is effecting everyone’s lives and we want to make sure we are doing all we can to support our customers and our people.
‘This means we need to focus our attention on our existing customers and their immediate financial needs.’
This is Money has frequently listed First Direct’s account for its combination of account perks and award-winning customer service.
At the time it was pulled from sale, it offered £100 to newcomers who paid in £1,000 in the first three months of having the account, and a £250 interest-free overdraft buffer.
It was named Britain’s best current account in the latest rankings published by the Competition and Markets Authority, with 83 per cent of its customers saying they’d recommend it to friends and family, ahead of Metro Bank in second place.
First Direct has pulled its current account to new customers ‘temporarily’
However, all banks are scaling back their offers to new customers as they seek to prioritise existing current account holders and beefing up their customer service, at a time when branches are being temporarily closed or having hours reduced and unprecedented numbers are ringing up.
First Direct’s owner HSBC pulled its £175 switch offer to new Advance customers on Tuesday and has extended a £300 interest-free overdraft buffer to holders of the account for the next three months.
First Direct owner HSBC has brought in a £300 fee-free overdraft for certain customers for three months. This move has been followed by Lloyds Bank, while Barclays is waiving charges
Customers of its regular bank account will also have access to the boosted interest-free overdraft limit, which would normally charge 39.9 per cent.
Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland matched that fee-free buffer this afternoon with an offer lasting until July, while fellow high street giant Barclays will waive all overdraft fees customers incur until the end of April.
NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland pulled their £175 switch bonuses last week as they too focus attention on existing customers.
It leaves Nationwide as one of the few banks offering an eye-catching switching bonus, with the building society offering £100 to new customers referred by a friend, who will also receive £100.
It also offers 5 per cent interest on balances of up to £2,500 for the first 12 months, as well as an interest-free overdraft for the first year.