Switching your current account from a traditional Irish bank to one of the fintechs is fairly straightforward. Though there are some watch-outs. In this article I’ll outline my first-hand experience of switching from KBC to Revolut.
Ulster Bank and KBC have announced they’re leaving the Irish market. But chances are you know this already.
What you may not be aware of however are the myriad ins-and-outs of switching your current account. (Count your lucky stars).
When I found myself in this predicament recently I had a simple decision to make: choose a traditional bank or move to an online-only bank.
While there are many pros and cons to choosing a traditional bank over a fintech and vice versa, I decided to go with Revolut. But the focus of this article is not on the merits of one versus the other, but simply on the switching process and what you need to know.
In this article, I’m going to share my switching journey. So if you’re also switching to Revolut or another online-only account, hopefully this article will help to outline the steps involved.
Here’s my journey from changing my KBC Extra Current Account to a Revolut Current Account.
Deciding on a bank account
I could talk about this for a very long time, but I decided to choose Revolut for one reason: I do not use cash.
People will have their reasons for staying with a traditional bank until the cows come home, but I decided to move to Revolut because most of the things I buy are either online or can be purchased using a debit card.
Also, I complain far too much about certain traditional Irish banks, so this was me putting my money where my mouth is as anything else.
What made the decision even easier for me was that I already had an active Revolut account which I used from time to time before needing to switch, so I had no hassle with setting up an account from scratch.
That being said, the process of opening an online account, especially with Revolut, is quite straightforward.
Closing my existing account
Before I could focus on moving any payments over to my new account, I had to inform KBC of my intention to leave, or rather, close my account and switch to a new provider.
KBC has already begun notifying its customers of account closures and timelines so this is something they are actively engaging with customers on.
It may be different for customers of Ulster Bank, but to close my KBC current account I had to post a signed written instruction to KBC’s head office in Dublin 2. You can also visit your nearest local KBC hub (if you live in Dublin or one of the other major cities, that is).
This letter should include your existing account information and also the name and IBAN of the account you’re switching to.
It’s very important when you’re sending this letter to make it clear that this is an account switch (not just a closure) so write this on the enclosed letter and on the envelope itself. I had trouble with this, which I’ll explain shortly.
Thankfully, because I had a pre-existing account with Revolut, I didn’t have to wait around to switch my bill information with my existing providers.
The IBAN discrimination issue
However, before I discuss the switching of important bills and how I got on, I should address the IBAN issue…
Revolut does not yet offer an Irish IBAN. Revolut has suggested it should have one by the end of 2022.
For the moment Revolut customers have a Lithuanian IBAN. This is because Revolut operates in Ireland through its Lithuanian banking licence, so your unique account number starts with ‘LT’ as opposed to ‘IE’.
The main difference between the two, in practical terms, is that many utility providers do not readily accept a non-Irish IBAN. However, and this is important, under European law companies must accept non-national IBANs as a legitimate means of payment and cannot discriminate against them as long as the bank is part of the Single Euro Payments Area, or SEPA, as it is commonly referred to.
So, this effectively means that it shouldn't matter whether your IBAN is Irish, Dutch, Lithuanian or otherwise - service providers (or your job’s payroll) must still accept it.
However, because many service providers’ payment systems or payroll systems are outdated, it can take longer to get set up with a non-Irish IBAN as it’s often a manual process. In rare cases, a utility provider may not be able to accept your details at all.
In better news, payments for things like Spotify, Netflix, GoMo, Amazon Prime and many gym memberships are not Direct Debits. They're what's called 'recurring payments' and are linked to your debit card as opposed to your bank account. For these providers you should be able to easily change your payment details online yourself without much hassle. Revolut issues standard MasterCards (previously Visa) so the fact you have a Lithuanian IBAN makes no difference here.
Anyway, here's how I got on with switching my bills...
Switching my bills
- Electric Ireland - In my apartment I pay the gas bill so this was the first payment I went about changing. Unfortunately, Electric Ireland does not yet allow you to change your payment details to a non-Irish IBAN from your online account. Instead, I filled out a SEPA Direct Debit Mandate which you can find online here and sent it by free post to its office in Sligo.
- Axa Insurance - For my car insurance I wasn’t able to change these details online either and had to ring up Axa’s customer service team to provide them with my new IBAN. Thankfully this wasn’t any hassle to do, although I was on hold for quite a bit and it required a callback in the end. Still, fairly straightforward.
- Vodafone Ireland - The only other direct debit payment I have is with Vodafone for a bill pay mobile plan. Again, unfortunately, it doesn’t allow you to manually change your details to a non-Irish IBAN online. It asks customers to visit a store, which I did, and it only took a matter of minutes to get sorted. However this shouldn’t have to be the case, so if you are with Vodafone perhaps try ringing a store instead.
*So as not to miss any payments, if you have a mortgage or loan repayments (neither of which I have), it might be best to check with your lender first, either by phone or online, to figure out how best to get a DD mandate set up so it’s taken from your new Revolut account.
- eFlow - From my eFlow account online I chose ‘update payments details’. This allowed me to add a payment method such as a credit or debit card, or direct debit. To make things easier I decided to pay with my card, so I just updated the new card details and that was it.
- Netflix - I simply logged onto my account from a desktop (doesn’t work from mobile), chose ‘account’ and from there I selected ‘manage payment info’ which allowed me to add my new card details and delete the old ones.
- Gym membership - My gym membership is paid through a mobile app, so all I had to do was change the card details from there and it was sorted in minutes.
- Apple ID - It’s the one I forgot about, and important for those of you paying for apps, storage space, or anything else that uses your Apple ID. Similar to the above, all this needed was a change of card details from the payment & shipping option in your iPhone’s settings.
And that’s it!
Some people may see manually changing your payments as an impediment to switching to Revolut, or any other online bank without an Irish IBAN, which is understandable depending on the volume of payments that need changing.
However even if I were switching to an Irish bank, and despite the switching code in place designed to help with the process, I would still be making sure myself that all of my payments were switched over, just so I wouldn’t miss any. So in short, this wasn’t really much of a barrier for me.
That and the fact that both KBC and Ulster Bank are quite busy at the moment (understatement), so some DDs could, potentially, get lost in transit, which you would not want to happen.
The only other thing to say is that you should give yourself enough time to switch.
Giving myself enough time to switch
Switching accounts will depend on whether you have a new current account open and ready to go, but once you do, you can start switching your payment details for bills immediately.
Most of my bills were either at the end or the beginning of the month, so once I was paid from my employer and all bill payments were taken from my account, I was able to start updating my details, knowing said payments would not be due again until after I had been paid.
For a couple of irregularly-timed bills, however, I simply topped up my new account with funds to make sure it didn’t bounce.
The main point here is to make sure you have enough money in both your new and old accounts to make sure any payments are not declined. This will save you from paying any late fees, or having your credit rating affected, despite it perhaps not being your fault.
Word of warning for KBC customers
If you’re closing your current account with KBC and switching to a new bank, make it clear on the closure letter that you’re requesting both a closure of your KBC account and a switch of any money to your new account.
Otherwise, you might receive a cheque in the post rather than a transfer of funds to your new account.
Once you include your new account details in the aforementioned letter, however, this shouldn't be a problem, but it doesn’t hurt to spell things out, especially as the bank is inundated with closure/switching requests.
Another important thing to remember is that once you submit your account closure/switch request and it is received by KBC, the bank will cancel your debit card, so make sure you have access to some cash somewhere.
In my case, KBC failed to inform me exactly when they were actioning the closure/switch request and cancelled my card right before a weekend - not great timing!
I didn't have easy access to my funds for five-working days after that. Not great customer service, although it’s sadly to be expected given the sheer number of requests it’s handling.
At any rate, you should make sure to have enough money somewhere for at least seven days of day-to-day banking before sending this letter to KBC, and be a tiny bit more prepared than me!
Helpful switching content
The current account switching process can be tricky, especially if you don’t work in the industry and are unaware of the ins and outs. But that’s where we come in!
We have researched and written plenty of great content to help you with just that! Have a look at some of our helpful articles to help you get started below:
- Haven’t decided which bank to switch to yet? Read our guide on 8 things to consider before switching provider.
- Afterwards, you can see which bank has the best value current account here and/or read our article on which bank has the best mobile app.
- You can then read our guide to switching your current account here.
If you’ve done your reading already and are looking to switch, why not compare the market right here on bonkers.ie using our current account comparison tools.
Get in touch with your questions
Do you have any questions about switching your current account to Revolut or any other provider? We’d be happy to help. Get in touch in the comments below or via our social media channels. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.