Business

Nine UK banks launch fee-free accounts

people at cash points Image copyright Getty Images

Nine High Street banks and building societies in the UK are to launch basic bank accounts which will not charge a fee for missed payments.

The new accounts will be available from 1 January to people who fail to qualify for a full current account.

It follows an agreement between the Treasury and the industry in December last year.

Nine million basic account holders will now not be charged for missing a direct debit payment, or a standing order.

Previously they might have paid up to £35 per failed payment, sometimes pushing them into an overdraft, so increasing the charges further.

"One bank charges £150 a quarter, and such costs can be make or break for some people," said Kevin Mountford, head of banking with Moneysupermarket.com.

"It will be a good thing if some of these extortionate costs are eradicated."

'Significant progress'

Some banks already do not charge such fees, but the agreement will mean a universal standard across the industry.

Barclays, Santander, NatWest, RBS, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, TSB, the Co-operative Bank and Nationwide Building Society are among those that will offer deals under the agreement, the Treasury said.

Users of the new accounts will also qualify for a debit card, which they can use to shop online, or at cash points.

But they will not be able to run up an overdraft.

However, around two million people in the UK still do not have a bank account at all, according to a report by the Financial Inclusion Commission, published in March 2015.

It said those without an account faced paying an extra £1,300 a year for financial services. But the industry argued that the situation was improving.

"These basic bank accounts build on the significant progress made by the industry on financial inclusion in recent years," said Anthony Browne, the chief executive of the British Banking Association.

"More people than ever before can now access banking services."

Banks offering fee-free accounts
Bank/building society Account name
Barclays Barclays Basic Current Account
Santander Basic Current Account
NatWest Foundation Account
Ulster Bank Foundation Account
Royal Bank of Scotland (Scotland) Foundation Account
RBS England and Wales Basic Account
HSBC Basic Bank Account
Nationwide FlexBasic
Co-operative Bank Cashminder
Lloyds/ Halifax/ Bank of Scotland Basic Account
TSB Cash Account
Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks Readycash Account
source: HM Treasury

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