How long does it take to switch bank accounts really? – official MSE blog discussion

Hello there forumites,

After a year and a half away, I've written a new MoneySavingIdiot blog on how long it really takes to switch bank accounts (and grab a cash bribe for doing so).

"Switching bank – Martin's been telling you to do it since the heady days of 2003 when Spirit in the Sky by Gareth Gates and The Kumars reached number one and national newspapers regularly reported when David Beckham changed his hair. Yet our most-recent poll of MoneySavers found one in three have NEVER switched their main bank account. Outrageous."

Read the full blog here: How long does it take to switch bank accounts really? The MoneySavingIdiot times it...

Let me know below how long it took you to switch bank – and what perks you managed to bag (and of any problems you had).


MSE Kelvin  :)


  • edited 16 August 2021 at 3:56PM
    WillPSWillPS Forumite
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    edited 16 August 2021 at 3:56PM
    Agreed. The account which I use most happens to be the first current account I opened when I was 12 at Natwest (since changed account type a few times, but same account number and sort code).

    I certainly wouldn't encourage using the CASS service on your oldest/only account.
    2.9K Posts
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    Account opening and account switching are two entirely separate processes - although you usually get asked about switching during an account application, a switch can't happen unless there is an open account to switch into. Additionally you can switch between 2 existing accounts without the need to open something new. The switching process itself has always taken 7 days for me - any "delays" have always been down to something not a part of the switching process, such as the new bank processing the account application first.

    In any case, it's always wise to get access to online banking before you complete a switch. Yes this will slow down the overall time from account opening to switch complete, but it's better to make sure you have complete access to your money in case anything goes wrong with your new bank or you decide that in fact you don't actually want to bank with them.

    You can always switch a secondary account to get an incentive offer with a new bank and then move your main banking down the line with a second switch if you decide you prefer them to your old bank.
  • edited 16 August 2021 at 5:04PM
    jbrassyjbrassy Forumite
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    edited 16 August 2021 at 5:04PM
    I get the point that for some people, not switching bank accounts is completely rational if they are happy with their bank and the product is right for them. However, I think there has been a concern in recent years about people who do not switch despite:
    • Receiving poor customer service from their bank; or
    • Not having a bank account that is suitable to their needs, e.g. they are consistently overdrawn and could save money by switching to a bank with a lower interest rate.
    You read a lot of complaints about banks on the MSE Forum and I often wonder why people don't just switch away if they're that unhappy. If you were not happy with the service in a restaurant, you would stop going and go to another restaurant instead. Why not the same for banks? That's how competition works in a capitalist society and that's how you force banks to improve their service. That's perhaps the "outrageous" aspect to all of this. 

    On the original question of long it takes to switch the account, the answer depends on what you're talking about. The process of applying for an account online and initiating a switch takes easily less than an hour (probably 15-30 mins max). Then, the switch itself is supposed to take 7 days, although it can take longer depending on how many switching requests the bank is currently dealing with. However, the process is not difficult thanks to the Current Account Switch Service.

    I personally have not switched my main bank account (First Direct) for over 5 years since I think it suits my needs and I am happy with the service I get. However, I have 2 other bank accounts (Halifax and Virgin) which I have regularly switched in recent years to gain switching rewards which have run into hundreds of pounds, plus a case of wine. I have no intention of switching these at the moment as I'm getting good benefits from them, but I have no hesitation to when the time is right.
  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    "Yet our most-recent poll of MoneySavers found one in three have NEVER switched their main bank account. Outrageous."

    What a totally ill informed comment.  Why not ask people instead of being assumptive. You might learn something.  Rather than simply expressing personal opinion which in itself isn't newsworthy. 
  • eastcorkrameastcorkram Forumite
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    Well, after having bank accounts since 1976, this month I've tried to switch , and it's failed. Was in the branch of the new one today. They said it was their fault, and advised me to go online and try again. So, I'm not going to bother with that . So I just went online and transferred the money over , which is what I should have done in the first place. I'm sure it works fine for thousands of people every week, but I won't be using the switch again.
  • edited 16 August 2021 at 6:37PM
    colstencolsten Forumite
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    edited 16 August 2021 at 6:37PM

    Yet our most-recent poll of MoneySavers found one in three have NEVER switched their main bank account. Outrageous.

    What is outrageous about it? After all, it is not mandatory to switch, especially not when you are perfectly happy with your main account.

    In addition, prudent Money Saving Experts know that having the same current account for donkey's years has a very positive effect on your credit worthiness as it shows stability. Whilst opening/closing accounts all the time is considered a warning sign by some lenders. In addition, I know of at least one current account provider who used to have loyalty offers for longstanding customers before the pandemic, and one or two of the older accounts come with benefits you can only dream of on new accounts (e.g. free travel insurance, on free-of-charge account).

    So to show those of you who don't like free cash – they literally give you money to switch

    I have as yet not seen any reason for switching my main account but that doesn't mean I don't like free cash. Nor does it mean that I haven't actually made thousands from current account switches since those switch offers became available from 2013 onwards. I doubt there is a single switch offer which I qualified for and which I have not done, and more than once where this was not prohibited.

    As to how long is takes to switch an account. I am surprised that MSE do not explain that applying for a current account and switching to it are two entirely separate processes, and that it is, in fact, very risky to request a switch, especially a switch of a main account, without first having full access to the new account (online / app fully operable, card and PIN in your hand). I appreciate the banks like to use the application form to also lure you away from their competitors, but at a minimum, people switching their main account should chose a switch date at least 2-3 weeks in the future. Better still, don't request a switch before you have full access to the new account.

    Switches will generally complete in the morning of the day the new bank has confirmed (at switch request time) the switch will complete. Exceptions are outstanding overdrafts on the old account, or the old bank just not playing ball (only known instance of this is Tesco Bank).

  • edited 16 August 2021 at 7:12PM
    ZandermanZanderman Forumite
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    edited 16 August 2021 at 7:12PM
    Yet our most-recent poll of MoneySavers found one in three have NEVER switched their main bank account. Outrageous."

    I've switched current accounts dozens of times for switching incentives since the CASS system came in.

    But never my 'main' account.  That stays untouched, as it's doing just fine. 

    If the people at MSE Towers think that's outrageous then they have a different dictionary to me.

    For the incentives it's much easier to switch an account that's NOT your main account.  That way you get the benefits (very MSE) but don't have to keep remembering who you bank with (very practical).

    Edited to add:  In answer to the 'how long to switch' question the answer has been, almost always, 7 days.  As it is meant to be.
    If the question is really intended to read "how long after opening a new account did your old one get switched in?" then I suggest the opening post is revised!  The answer to that question is 'longer', but that's a reflection of account opening time, not account switching time.
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