Belfast Telegraph

More than 4,000 make switch from Northern Ireland banks to UK rivals

By John Mulgrew

More than 4,000 people have moved their current accounts from Northern Ireland's four big banks to larger UK rivals, including Halifax and Santander.

That is according to the latest figures from the Current Account Switch Service, which covered a three-month period.

Almost 1,500 customers shifted their accounts from Ulster Bank during the second quarter of 2015.

And around 10 times as many people moved their accounts away from the bank, compared to those who opened new accounts.

More than 800 customers moved their accounts from Bank of Ireland, while it gained just 268 new accounts during the same period.

Almost 1,100 cancelled accounts with Danske Bank, which added around 400 new customers.

And around 1,000 people moved their accounts from the AIB Group in the UK, which includes First Trust, and it gained 260 new current account customers.

A spokesman for Ulster Bank, which historically has had the biggest share of the current account market, told this paper: "We are continually looking at ways to improve services for our customers.

"We've shortened the time it takes to open a current account with us, we offer our best deals to both new and existing customers, we've simplified our product range and we're investing significantly to improve banking services, for example introducing TouchID login for our mobile app and offering Apple Pay to our customers."

Halifax, Santander, Tesco and Nationwide made the biggest gains across the UK.

Santander, which has just upped the fee on its flagship 123 current account, was by far the biggest winner. It gained more than 66,000 customers between April and June.

Among the strategies used to attract newcomers, Halifax offers customers £100 to switch as well as a potential £5-a-month reward.

Tesco Bank, meanwhile, offers clubcard points and 3% interest on balances up to £3,000.

And Nationwide customers can get 5% interest on balances of up to £2,500 for the first 12 months.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at, said of an 11% fall in switching: "Despite 2015 seeing some of the best financial incentives for switchers, many still struggle to see the value in switching.

"The banks need to up their game and do more to help their customers understand their current account usage by prompting them with clear information."

Belfast Telegraph