Advantages Superb service, friendly staff, access via phone, internet, email, text message whenever you need it
Disadvantages none whatsoever
Because of the hours I work, and where I work and where I live, it's not easy for me to get to a bank in person. With First Direct, it doesn't matter. I set up my account over the phone, they sent through the paperwork and off I went. I've set up a couple of savings accounts in addition to my current account - no problems at all. I can sort out all my Standing Orders, DDs and other payments online (or over the phone).Having banked with NatWest, although they did have an online service & a telephone service, I found that the internet banking was no where near as easy to use (frequently it went wrong). I would then have to call telephone banking, who's staff were less than helpful usually, and in addition there seemed to be so many different passwords and codewords that you had to remember for both the internet & telephone banking.
First Direct's staff are without fail, helpful, courteous and very human too. You feel like you're talking to a proper person, not just a robot who will only do their job, and nothing beyond that. No matter when you call (and the lines are open 24 hours a day), you always get a friendly voice on the end of the line who genuinely seems to want to help you.The only thing that you need to do in person, is paying in cheques - this is done through HSBC branches. Now, I tend to try to avoid cheques and ask people to transfer money (which is rare!) directly into my account.
My other half and I have also taken advantage of First Direct's Off-set Mortgage - which is a great idea, in my opinion. Basically, this is a variable rate mortgage (at present, interest is 5.25% on our mortgage, despite the rates having just gone up again) where any money you hold in accounts linked to the mortgage is taken off the total of the mortgage, so that you pay less interest. The mortgage is in both mine & my partner's name, and so we have linked all of our FD accounts to the mortgage. We're lucky enough to have some savings between us (at the moment, anyway!), so are currently saving about £50 month in interest - which is well worth doing! It is great to be able to save this kind of money in interest, and yet still have the money to hand should we need it.First Direct also operate a text message service - I currently have a mini-statement texted to my phone at the start of each week, just so I can keep an eye on my finances. I also get a text if my balance drops below a certain level (you can specify this yourself). You can specify to have texts if your balance goes above a certain level, or if your credits or debits to your accounts reach a certain level too.
The other thing I love about First Direct is that they don't bombard me with marketing emails & junk mail (take note NatWest!) I've had 2 unsolicited emails from them in total since I joined them, and about 5 pieces of unsolicited mail.Overall, I couldn't be more impressed with this bank. They really do pay so much attention to what their customers REALLY need.
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