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Intelligent Finance the bank that did say Yes, unlike many others who did not….
There was me, 27 with a Halifax account and no one anywhere would let me have a Switch card. See, me like many others out there when I as a young lass made some silly mistakes with credit cards and store cards and loans…. Need I continue? So, after paying my dues and living like a good girl for a long time, I was shocked time after time to be turned down by everyone not just for a Switch card, but for accounts in general. Till one day my friend came to visit and recommended I try IF. I of course told him there was no way they would give me an account, after all they are linked to Halifax and they wouldn’t let me upgrade my account, so why would IF be any different? ‘Ah haaa’, he said. They will if you don’t have an overdraft. So, mockingly I went along with it and applied and to my disbelief they did accept me and let me have a current account. So, all was not lost, I may not be able to have any of their other services other than a savings account but I can tell you about them as best I can with a little help from their website….
IF offer several services…. (Information taken from if.com)
Mortgages - With our mortgage you can buy a new home or you can move your mortgage to us perhaps to generate capital or even to consolidate some of your debts. Variable rate of 4.85% (4.9% APR) discounted to 3.35% variable for the first 3 months. Standard valuation fee refunded after completion for remortgages. Interest calculated on the basis of daily balances. Take up to two payment holidays a year. Borrow between £25,001 and £1,000,000. Borrow up to 95% of the value or purchase price of your property, whichever is lower. Please note: special terms apply for loans above £500,000
Personal Loans – The say you can have an answer in minutes and money in a few days. Fixed interest rate of 8.3% APR no matter how much you borrow. Borrow between £1,000 and £25,000. Flexibility to take two payment holidays a year. The loan can be repaid over 1 to 8 years - you choose. No early repayment fees. No arrangement fee. You could use your personal loan to buy a car, for home improvement or consolidate existing borrowings. The choice is yours.
Credit Cards – Once again they say you can apply in minutes and get your card in a few days. 8.9% APR for purchases and balance transfers. Up to 56 days' interest free for purchase. No annual fee. Accepted in over 24 million locations and 130 countries worldwide. Withdraw money from cash machines across the world wherever you see the Visa sign.
Current Accounts – Here’s the information from their site. Take control of your finances. Our current account gives you a great rate of interest and everything else you'd expect from your bank. 3.20% AER/GROSS interest applied to all credit balances. Switch Card and £100 cheque guarantee facility. We do not charge you when you use LINK cash machines. Cash machine limit of up to £300 a day. Overdraft facilities with a rate of 8.39% EAR. Manage your money, how you want to online or by the telephone. Direct debits, standing orders and bill payments. Cheque book. Interest calculated on the basis of daily balances. No fee for overdraft facilities. Ok, here’s my opinion on their current account. I think the account it’s self is good. I have had current accounts in the past although these have been with banks and not online banking. The fact I don’t have a bank manager calling me and asking me things is good. I also like the fact I can log in online and check things for myself and if there is a problem I can easily call their 0845 6094343 number (Charged at local rate) and speak to someone in customer services anytime. The current account screen once you have logged in through all the security (I’ll explain about that later) gives you all options from checking your balance, transferring funds, direct debits; to be honest most standard online banking jargon and if you haven’t an IF account but do want to take a look, you can always log onto if at www.IF.com and see their account demo. It’s quite quick to navigate round (I do have broadband but I didn’t find it that slow using a 56K dial up), attractive on the eye being subtle purple, white and grey. If you do have an account with them they also offer free anti-virus software which you can download or they will send you a disc through the post.
Savings Accounts – (Once again information taken from IF.com) They offer 3 types of account: Direct access for everyday savings. Mini cash ISA for tax free savings (maximum of £3,000 each tax year). TESSA only ISA for continued tax free interest on a matured TESSA (maximum of £9,000). One great rate of 3.80% AER/GROSS applied to all savings balances. Interest calculated on the basis of daily balances. Quick access to your money with funds transferred to your choice of bank account. No charges when you withdraw money or close your account. Unlimited number of withdrawals. Current account and savings balances are linked so you get the savings interest rate for both. Start saving today with as little as £1. I set one of these up for my daughter so I could put money in there for when she is older. As she is under 16 she doesn’t pay tax on this account and I have it set so she has my interest too, so she earns a little bit more. A great idea really allowing to off-set things with the account.
Login / security – Ok as with most things now online they have online security and you have to go through a few things before you can access your account. When you get any account with IF you have to answer a few security questions, such as your birthplace/home town, mother’s name, father’s name, first school (I think there was one more but I can’t remember it – sorry). You also have to make up a unique username, and have a 6 character/digit password. All these are case sensitive and believe me if you do put them in wrong (OR right sometimes as I found out) you will be locked out of your account. You then have to phone them and ask them to send you out a new security pack so you can access your account again. They cannot sort it out on the phone for you. You also have a pin number which at times you will need to use online, on the phone to them at customer services, this can be the same pin number as your cash point card if you so choose. Also you have a plan number and a customer ID number, not forgetting sort codes and account numbers. You really do have numbers and things coming out of you… well let’s get back to the subject at hand. I do feel their security is good, but like I said before, I have been locked out of my account due to a technical fault for putting in the correct information they asked. Still, it has been resolved and not happened since.
Customer Services – Ok these ladies and gentlemen I can’t fault. Whenever I have called they have done their utmost to help me, they are friendly and efficient and I have never had to wait long for one of them to answer the phone, even at peak times it’s never been more than a minute or so. You can contact customer services on 0845 6094343 and after a few options go from there. Although I will warn you and say have all information to hand as once again you do have to go through a few security type questions.
The website it’s self – Is pretty and like I said before cool on the eyes. A white background with purple and grey for the website is a soft contrast and looks professional at the same time. There is easy navigation with drop down menus, lots of links all over the place. I will say that their FAQ section could be improved as you can hardly ever find what you are looking for there. Still the site it’s self if you are used to using online banking is good and easy to use.
Conclusions and Advice – So over all do I rate them. Yes, if you have had trouble in the past getting a current account, apply with them without the overdraft facility and you might be lucky. Their websites easy to use, their customer service team are good. I can’t comment on their other service like I have said as I don’t have anything other than a current account and savings account but what I do have are good and I will keep using them for definite.
Agree completely. I was 19 when I got my loan a couple of years ago, I had tried the likes of Tesco Finance etc, and was refused, applied online for IF and was accepted in 5 mins! Didn't have to speak to anyone.
I have also now been locked out a few times, even when putting the correct info in! Very annoying!
asclepius 28.01.2003 21:59
Excellent review. Drew -x-
brooklh 26.01.2003 11:17
I have just applied for an account so will be interesting to see if by the time it is set up we still have problems logging on! Very interesting op. Leigh