Are you missing out by not switching current accounts?
Mark Whelan
Staff Writer

Current account switching remains shockingly low in Ireland, and many consumers could be missing out as a result.

This morning, the Central Bank of Ireland published its seventh Consumer Protection Bulletin, featuring the latest facts and figures about current accounts in Ireland.

It turns out that we, as a nation, are opening more current accounts, complaining more and, unfortunately, switching less.

How many people switch current accounts in Ireland?

Just 2,715 current account holders switched accounts between January 1st and June 30th 2017.

When you consider that there are nearly 5.3 million active current accounts in Ireland, you don’t need to be a maths-whiz to know that this is a pretty paltry switching rate.

In fact, the first half of the year had the second-lowest number of current account switches in a six-month period since the Central Bank of Ireland began collecting these data in 2013. Only in the first half of 2016 were there fewer switches; 2,665.

The Central Bank’s Switching Code is there to help

The Central Bank’s Switching Code appears to be working well, however.

The Code provides for a “smooth, efficient switching process for the consumer”, “consistency of approach to the process” and “support for consumers contemplating, undertaking and/or completing the switching process”.

Basically, it’s there to make it easy for you to switch current accounts and to require the banks to help you through the process.

An impressive 99% of current account switches that were carried out under the Code were completed in the required 10-day timeframe in the first six months of the year.

Current accounts are competitive again

A few years ago, many of you might have wondered why anyone would bother switching current accounts. The number of banks offering a current account fell by a third, from nine to six, and the banks that survived weren’t exactly setting the world alight with their offers.

However, that has changed over the past year or so.

Recently, most of Ireland’s leading banks have added innovative new benefits and features to their current account offerings, which make now a very good time to switch.

AIB, KBC and Ulster Bank all recently made Apple Pay and Android Pay available, and Permanent TSB will now give you with a way to earn up to €5 back every month by using your debit card.

Fancy lower fees?

Another reason to think about switching is to avoid paying more than you have to on banking fees.

Some banks charge up to 35 cent for every ATM withdrawal and 20 cent for every chip-and-PIN debit card transaction. Fees like these can really add up over time and leave you wondering why your account balance looks a little lower than you expected.

Most banks offer ways for you to get fee-free banking, but one bank’s “rules” might suit your spending habits better than another’s. You can read about each bank's fee-free criteria here.

It’s easy to compare the fees and features on offer from each bank now over on our Compare Current Accounts page.