It has never been easier to transfer your bank account. The once daunting task of swapping all of your direct debits, standing orders and credit transactions, to another bank has been made much simpler.

Banks have a habit of getting things their own way, and there was a time when changing your main current account was a nightmare. Banks did nothing to help. Their attitude was why should we?

After all, the bank in question was going to lose your business.

These days flexibility is the key and services, such as bankers, energy and insurance providers, are regularly swapped. In many ways, this keeps the firm in question on its toes.

Having recently swapped our main bank account, here are some of the potential problems and a little advice.

We opted to have our new bank handle the transfer. We used the online facility, which was offering a £50 credit, for changing banks. This was as long as you moved your salary, direct debits and all other transactions across.

We had been with our old bank for more than 25 years but they seemed happy to see us go.

We used to have our mortgage with them and, over the years, we had always handled our accounts properly. By doing so though, the bank had made little money out of us. Perhaps they want bad payers and people who live above their means, so that they can make money from charging these people.

Whatever the reason it was their loss.

We have had a few problems with our change over and, if we were changing again, I think that I would use the branch service. Online there was the £50 bonus but no personal service. Everything went through double quick but this left the odd issue.

Three of our Insurance policies are with what is know known as Aviva.

Aviva do not accept third party changes to direct debits. This meant that, within a few weeks, I received direct debit mandates for two of the insurances. These had to be completed and returned immediately. I also had to send a cheque for each of these policies to cover the interim period.

I rang Aviva to try to pay this outstanding amount by switch card, but they were not having any of it.

Currently they only accept cheques. This meant that I had to have a cheque book issued, just for this purpose. Who uses cheques these days?

So all was well, but in reality, it was not.

A few weeks down the road another demand from Aviva dropped through my letterbox. This time I owed two months on my own insurance and the letter told me that the policy had lapsed. Thankfully, I had already sent a cheque for two months payment and the policy was quickly reinstated.

However, it could have been worse.

The letter also included a health summary to fill in so that the policy could be reinstated. Having had the policy donkey's years no doubt the premiums would have increased.

Therefore, if you are thinking of changing you bank account, go for it, but take care. Make sure that:-

  • All you existing payments are showing on your new account.
  • Check the details sent to you regarding the change over.
  • There may be expired payments, such as olde direct debits, that you will need to cancel. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Use the personal bank service, so that you have a person to liaise with directly.
  • Do a thorough bank comparison, before you choose which bank to use.
  • Make sure though that the bank is reputable and has a long-standing reputation.
  • Give the bank a couple of months, to see if it lives up to your expectations. If it does not, it would be better to swap again, but sooner rather than later.

Bear in mind though that too many of these sort of changes can affect your credit rating or credit score and so have a detrimental effect. It can also take time to increase your overdraft facilities and the like each time you are a new customer.

It is better to try to develop a long-standing relationship with your bank, as long as it is the right one for you.

This information relates to current practice in the UK