Making the switch to a new current account provider - C103

Image audioMaking the switch to a new current account provider - C103

Just 220,000 new current accounts have been opened this year, despite the impending exit of both KBC and Ulster Bank from the Irish market. 

Daragh Cassidy, Head of Communications at bonkers.ie, joined Patricia Messinger on C103 to discuss switching numbers, how to go about making the switch, and what options are out there. 

Are you surprised at the number of people who have switched?

I thought the number of new accounts opened would be even smaller. There are around 500,00 people who need to switch current accounts. 

Some people may actually just have 2 current accounts and might close their Ulster Bank or KBC current account and only keep one account open, with another provider. 

People are probably leaving it until the last minute. Maybe they’re worried about the stress and the hassle. 

My advice is to try to take action as soon as possible, as the absolute last thing you want to be without is a current account. It does take a little bit of effort though.

How long does it take to switch current account providers?

The main thing that will take up the most time for people is moving over direct debits and standing orders. It’s very easy to open up a new account for most people. 

Different bank processes take different lengths of time. If you’re trying to open up a joint account or you are from a country outside the EU and have a non-EU passport, you may experience a little bit more difficulty. You may need to go to a branch and make an appointment.  

Do you have to move everything from one account to another yourself?

This is where it gets a little bit complicated. There are two ways of switching current accounts. There is what’s technically called the Central Bank’s switching code. 

In theory, when you use this code, your new bank and your old bank are supposed to work together to move over your direct debits and your standing orders. 

It tends not to work perfectly however, in that direct debits and standing orders often get missed. What happens is when your bank goes to update Electric Ireland or Bord Gáis Energy with account details, sometimes the supplier or the utility provider says that they can only deal with the customer directly. It gets a bit messy.

I did it myself a few years ago, I moved from AIB to Permanent TSB when they brought in fees and I technically used the switching code but to be honest, after a few days I just started ringing up companies and suppliers myself. It was dragging on for too long. 

What happens if you don’t switch accounts?

If you don’t switch current accounts, you could end up not paying bills. This can impact your credit record and can cost you money. Eir, for example, recently increased its missed payment fee to over €18, which is really high. 

You should try to get the new account up and running as soon as possible. At least if someone has to pay money into your account, you have an account that’s there. 

You can then ask Ulster Bank or KBC to give you a list of all your direct debits. Some people will easily know all of the money that goes out of their account, while others won’t.

KBC and Ulster Bank will still help you out, even if you don’t use the switching code. Ring up your electricity and gas supplier, broadband provider, etc. and get the details changed over. 

If you’re an older customer, it might be difficult to get set up with online banking. Hopefully there will be support there from a friend or family member, or from your new bank. 

The last thing you want is for your account to close, and you haven’t got a new one open.

The Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) have launched a new website to help people make the switch, Moving Account. As well, there is also information on our website, bonkers.ie. You can also go into Ulster Bank adn KBC and chat to them. 

Watch outs to be aware of

One watch out is that no matter what way you switch accounts, no one other than you can tell your employer of your new account details. Make sure you do that yourself. 

The same applies when it comes to social welfare or anywhere that pays money into your account.

Remember to also update things like streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime subscriptions, the M50 toll, etc. 

These are known as recurring payments and are linked to your debit card, as opposed to your bank account number. Even if you use the switching code, they can’t be moved over. 

Alternative banking options

The traditional banks, such as AIB, Bank of Ireland, and Permanent TSB, are still popular options for those looking to switch current accounts. However there are other players in the market such as An Post Money, the Credit Union and digital banks, like Revolut and N26.

Some people may find that an online-only account is not right for them, but it’s another choice that’s out there if people want to give it a go.

EBS, which is a subsidiary of AIB, has a current account as well which a lot of people would use because it’s cheap. 

However, EBS is also considering leaving the current account market too. You wouldn’t want to find yourself moving from KBC or Ulster Bank to EBS, only to have to move again in the near future. 

EBS and AIB need to be a lot more explicit that they’re doing this review. 

When deciding on a current account, do your research and consider what’s important to you:

  • Are the fees you pay a determining factor?
  • Do you want a branch network close to you?
  • Is online banking and a good mobile app a key factor?

All accounts are different; there’s no banking option that’s perfect all-around. 

Switch your current account

On bonkers.ie it’s easy for you to compare current accounts across all the major financial institutions in Ireland.

Take a look at our current accounts comparison page to compare standard, graduate, student, and senior accounts!

We also offer comparison tools for energy, broadband, insurance, and other banking products

Why not review your bills and see what bills you could save today?

Get in touch!

Have you been impacted by the departure of KBC or Ulster Bank? 

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