Switching current accounts in Ireland is easier than you think
With Halifax due to start closing its Irish branches in May and the Post Office to close by the end of the year, more than 200,000 Irish customers will soon be hitting the streets in search of new current accounts.
Many banks are already actively promoting Halifax and Postbank customers and promise to make the switching process as easy as possible.
Switching is actually a lot easier than most people think, and the difference between current accounts can be significant; overdraft rates can range as high as 5%, many institutions offer fee-free banking and some accounts actually pay interest on balances.
With all these incentives, why have so few people switched current accounts in Ireland when there could be huge benefits to switching?
According to a survey, customers believe that switching accounts will be inconvenient and time-consuming. Among the biggest concerns are switching direct debits, filling out paperwork and having to visit each bank multiple times. Customers also think they’ve already made up their minds and will put up with fees and high interest rates because they think it’s too hard to change.
It is little known that the Irish Banking Federation developed the Personal Account Switching Code in 2005, which is designed to make switching accounts as easy and convenient as possible. All major banks trading in Ireland have joined the code and since its inception 1,150 customers a month have used the switching process.
Once you’ve chosen the right account and started applying for a switch, you can decide on the best day to start the process with your new bank. This is usually the time of the month when there is the least standing order and direct debit. Your new bank will then notify your old bank that you’re switching so you don’t have to. Your new bank will then request a list of standing orders and direct debits from your old bank and notify companies such as Bord Gais and ESB of your new details. The new bank will even help you make sure payments like your salary are transferred.
The biggest benefit of the code is that it has standardized the switching process to help you switch checking accounts across all banks, so no matter which bank you choose, it should be smooth and easy. You should also be up and running in around seven days with all your payments and direct debits ready. Best of all, the banks will do most of the work for you.
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