The best bank accounts for 2018: Switch and start the New Year with £200 cash or inflation-beating interest
Join the gym, quit smoking and sort out your finances - three pledges many people will have made to themselves as the clock chimed in the New Year.
An easy step to get you at least one of them off to a flying start this year is to start from the ground up and finally ditch your old, and likely unrewarding, current account.
With cash payouts of up to £200 and interest rates that far out-strip inflation on offer, upping sticks could help get your finances back on track after a Christmas of excess.
We have picked our 2018 current account favourites below.
New year, new bank? The current accounts to help get your finances off to a flying start in 2018
Want a cash injection?
A handful of the banks run switching incentives, with fluctuating payouts depending on the time of year and whether they need to reel in customers.
HSBC is currently dangling the largest cash carrot of £200 for its Advance Account.
You get £150 when you switch with at least two direct debits and a further £50 after 12 months.
You have to pay in £1,750 per month to qualify for the account, more than most banks ask for but the account comes with access to a regular saver account paying 5 per cent. Plus it waives overdraft fees for the first six months.
Customer service favourite First Direct, is offering £125 is you switch through price comparison site Money Supermarket.
Another great bonus is that you get a £250 fee free overdraft buffer – the largest on offer – making it the cheapest option for anyone who dips into the red. The account requires a £1,000 monthly deposit to avoid its £10 monthly fee.
M&S Bank offers a £125 giftcard to use in its stores instead of cold hard cash, but this could be worth switching for if you frequently shop there.
You also get an extra £5 per month for the first year when you deposit at least £1,000 into your account each month.
Over the course of a year you earn £185. Plus the bank waives overdraft fees on the first £100 you borrow and gives you access to its linked regular saver that pays 5 per cent.
Again, your must switch using the bank’s service and move across at least two active direct debits to qualify for the incentive.
>Skip to our five of the best current accounts guide for more on these accounts and how they stack up.
New year winners: We have picked out our favourite accounts to help with any financial resolutions this year
Pay a bit more but save in the long run
The best package account for you will depend on what cover you want, and the perks that serve you the best.
Remember these accounts won't be for everyone and you should always make sure to compare both the costs and importantly the levels of cover against stand alone cover before you consider one.
It costs £13 a month and offers worldwide family travel insurance to anyone up to the age of 74.
You also get winter sports, golf, wedding and business cover, free UK and European breakdown and recovery assistance, commission-free cash withdrawals abroad and Family mobile insurance is included that covers you if your mobile is lost, stolen, damaged or faulty.
The account also comes with a fee-free overdraft for the first three months, after that you get a generous £250 interest-free buffer.
Despite the Bank of England raising rates last year, savers are still struggling to find decent returns, particularly if they want instant access to their cash.
Savings rates are tipped to rise again this year but if inflation continues at current levels, it will likely still beat the top easy access rates.
So savers will still need to find clever ways to make the most of their pot.
The rates on offer are not as generous as they once were, but current accounts paying interest on your balance are still a lucrative option paying up of to 5 per cent.
Nationwide’s Flex Direct account has long sat at the top of the pile, paying 5 per cent interest on balances of up to £2,500 (worth £125).
There is one major drawback - you only get the rate is only on offer for a year. After that if falls to a much less attractive 1 per cent.
Switchers also get a fee-free overdraft for 12 months, after that, you can pay as much as £5 per day for an unauthorised overdraft.
TSB pays a lower rate of 3 per cent on £1,500 (worth £45) if you open a Classic Plus Account but it has also added monthly cashback boost that brings annual earnings up to £165.
You can earn £5-a-month for maintaining two direct debits and an extra £5 for making 20 debit card payments each month which lasts until December 2018.
To qualify you must maintain two direct debits, register for internet banking, paperless statements and paperless correspondence. The account requires a £500 minimum monthly deposit.
Santander’s 123 Current Account is still the top favourite for anyone lucky enough to have £20,000 sitting in their account. It pays 1.5 per cent back on balances – around 0.2 per cent more than the top easy-access rates in This is Money’s independent best buy savings tables.
The account also offers up to 3 per cent cashback on your household bills but try the online cashback and interest calculator first to make sure it’s worth switching to as the perks come at a cost of £5 per month. It requires two direct debits and pay in at least £500 every month.
Prefer a regular cash top up?
The top deal offering money back on bills is the NatWest Reward Account.
It costs £2 per month but pays 2 per cent across phone, broadband, TV, council tax, electricity and gas, water and mobile phone bills each month. The bank is also currently running an a £125 switching incentive if you sign up before February 16.
If you are after monthly rewards, M&S Bank and TSB's deals earn the most over the first year.
However, if you are unlikely to switch again after the first year, the longer term options are Co-operative Bank's Everyday Rewards (up to £5.50 per month), Barclays Bank Account with Blue Rewards (up to £16 per month) and Halifax's Reward Account (£3 per month with a £75 cash incentive).
Below we have put together a table of the top accounts offering cashback or monthly rewards to help you compare.
|NatWest Reward Account||2 per cent back on your household bills. £125 cashback until February 16.||Comes with £2 monthly fee and £1,500 minimum monthly deposit|
|Santander 123 ||Santander will pay 1.5 per cent on balances up to £20,000 plus up to 3 per cent cashback on bills ||£5 a month fee. You must pay in £500 a month and two active direct debits |
|Santander 123 Lite||Up to 3 per cent cashback on your household bills||£1 a month fee, £500 a month and two active direct debits|
|Halifax Reward ||£75 for joining via switch service and a £3 monthly bonus ||Pay in £750 a month, stay in credit and two active direct debits|
|TSB Classic Plus ||3 per cent on up to £1,500 plus up to £10 cashback each month until December 2018||Pay in £500 a month. You must maintain two direct debits, register for internet banking, paperless statements and paperless correspondence |
|M&S Bank Current Account ||£125 gift card for joining via switch service, plus collect an extra £5 a month for the first year in vouchers. Loyalty points for spending on debit card in store and £100 interest-free overdraft ||No fee or rules |
|Cooperative Bank with Everyday Rewards||Up to £5.50 in monthly rewards including 5p (up to £1.50) each time you use your debit card||Switch accounts using the Current Account Switch Service and maintain 4 direct debits, pay in £800 a month, stay in credit and receive paperless statements|
THIS IS MONEY'S FIVE OF THE BEST CURRENT ACCOUNTS
TSB's Classic Plus account will pay you 3% interest on up to £1,500 and up to £10-a-month if you maintain two direct debits and make 20 debit card payments each month (until December 2018). You must pay in £500 a month.
First Direct regularly tops polls for customer service. Its First Account offers £125 for joining and has a £250 interest-free overdraft. It also now pays cashback for spending with certain retailers. You must pay in £1,000 or pay a £10 monthly fee.
Santander's 123 account pays 1.5% interest on balances up to £20,000 and also gives 1 to 3% cashback on bills. You need to pay a £5 a month fee, pay in £500 a month and have two active direct debits.
Natwest pays £125 cash if you switch to the bank. Plus you get 2% cashback on household bills with its Reward Account. Requires a £1,500 per month deposit.
M&S Bank's current account has a £125 gift card for joining, plus you get an extra £5 a month top up for the year. It has a £100 fee-free overdraft and no miniumum deposit criteria.
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