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Best and worst banks

Discover the best and the worst banks for customer service, rated by thousands of current account customers.

In this article
How do I find the best bank? Best and worst banks for 2019 Who are the Which? Recommended Providers?
Who are the worst banks? About Which?'s bank account research

How do I find the best bank?

Everybody's banking needs are different. Some with a healthy balance may want to find an account that pays them interest, others are looking for one that doesn't charge through the nose to use an overdraft.

At Which?, we think the way your bank treats you should be an essential part of finding the best account.

So, we've done the hard work for you. Every year, we survey thousands of current account customers and ask them to rate the service they receive. This gives us the Which? Customer Score. 

We then rate almost 40 standard (as in not paid-for) bank accounts on offer from companies with a score to find our Which? Recommended Providers - the companies that offer great products and top-notch customer service. 

 

Best and worst banks for 2019

Scroll through the table to see how real customers have rated dozens of banks and building societies.

The table also includes star ratings for nine elements of the banks' service, including handling complaints, online and mobile banking and how clear they are with their charges. 

Not all banks appear in our table. That's because we need a minimum of 30 people to respond to our survey to generate meaningful ratings. We're always trying to increase our coverage. 

Brand undefined Product
score
Customer service Application process How they communicate with you Transparency of charges Handling complaints

 

Service in branch

This includes length of queues and how helpful staff are.

Telephone banking Online banking Mobile banking

 

Value for money

This includes cashback deals, rewards, and overdraft charges.

Recommended provider

Monzo Bank
86% 65%

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

- - - -

5 out of 5

-

Recommended provider

First Direct
85% 80%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

-

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

Nationwide Building Society
79% 66%

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Metro Bank 76% 58%

4 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Recommended provider

M&S Bank
75% 80%

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

5 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

4 out of 5

Tesco Bank 74% 62%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Santander 72% 69%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Halifax 71% 69%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Co-operative Bank 71% 68%

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Barclays 71% 77%

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

NatWest 70% 80%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Lloyds Bank 70% 72%

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Danske Bank 69% 57%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

- -
Virgin Money 68% 54%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

Clydesdale Bank 67% 71%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Bank of Scotland 67% 74%

3 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

Citibank 67% n/a - - - - - - - - - -
Yorkshire Bank 67% 71%

3 out of 5

-

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

4 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

HSBC 67% 66%

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Ulster Bank 63% 74%

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

Royal Bank of Scotland 60% 80%

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

TSB 58% 63%

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

2 out of 5

3 out of 5

Bank of Ireland 58% 52%

2 out of 5

-

3 out of 5

- - - - - - -

 

Sample sizes for our survey as follows: Monzo Bank 40, First Direct 299, Nationwide Building Society 397, Metro Bank 50, Marks and Spencer (M&S Bank) 93, Tesco Bank 188, Santander 393, Halifax 398, Co-operative Bank    97, Barclays 348, NatWest 388, Lloyds Bank 390, Danske Bank 34, Virgin Money 37, Clydesdale Bank 98, Bank of Scotland    236, Citibank    30, Yorkshire Bank 149, HSBC 390, Ulster Bank 39, Royal Bank of Scotland 288, TSB 347, Bank of Ireland 31

Product scores: where banks have multiple accounts, we have shown the highest score it achieved from our analysis. Where N/A appears, we were unable to rate the bank's product.

Star ratings: a - indicates that we did not get enough responses on a particular aspect of a provider's service to generate a star rating.  

Who are the Which? Recommended Providers?

Monzo 

Digital mobile-only bank Monzo achieved the highest customer score in our latest survey, pushing perennial favourite First Direct into second place. 

This is the first time the challenger bank has had a large enough sample size to be included in our satisfaction table and it has immediately hit the top spot with a customer score of 86%.  

Monzo current accounts must be operated entirely from a smartphone, so the bank will be pleased that it earned five stars for both communication and its app. It was also the only provider to receive the top rating for its application process.

The debit card is fee-free for purchases anywhere in the world, and foreign ATM withdrawals are free up to £200 per month, making it the ideal debit card to take on holiday

The bank has also launched its first interest-paying savings account, exclusively available to current account customers and paying 1% on deposits of £1,000.

First Direct

First Direct won't be used to playing second fiddle to a challenger bank but it has still performed brilliantly in our latest survey, with a customer score of 85%. 

Customers can use HSBC branches (its parent bank) to pay in and withdraw cash but most bank online, on their mobile or over the phone, and it earned five stars for each of these services once again. 

First Direct was also the only provider to receive the top rating for dealing with complaints and resolving problems. 

For a cheap arranged overdraft, we rate the 1st Account which is interest-free up to £250 then 15.9% EAR. If you were to borrow £500 for one week, First Direct would charge you 71p, while other banks slap on fees amounting to £7.74. 

It shares deposit protection with HSBC so keep deposits under £85,000 across the two brands.

Nationwide Building Society

With an impressive customer score of 79%, we've chosen Nationwide to be a Which? Recommended Provider once again. 

Along with Monzo and First Direct, Britain’s largest building society received the highest possible rating for customer service. 

No providers received the top rating for their in-branch services, but Nationwide was one of only six providers to earn four stars for this. And, it’s committed to keeping its branches open, unlike many of the biggest high-street names. Find out which branches are closing using our unique bank branch tool.

Nationwide has continued to gain more current account switchers than any other bank or building society, many of whom open its FlexDirect account which pays 5% interest on balances of up to £2,500 in year one (when you pay in £1,000 a month). After 12 months, the rate drops to 1%. FlexPlus is also our top-scoring packaged account.

M&S Bank

Like our other Recommended Providers, M&S Bank was given the highest rating for transparency of charges, and earned four stars for service in-branch, complaints handling, and overall customer service, bringing its total customer score to 75%. 

Most M&S Bank branches are open whenever the stores are open, including evenings and weekends. 

The supermarket bank's main current account offers a minimum £500 overdraft at account opening and comes with a £125 M&S gift card to new customers who switch via the Current Account Switch Service, and up to an extra £60 when they stay for 12 months. 

The M&S Bank Premium account is also eligible for this switching bonus, costing £10 per month for exclusive rewards and hot drinks vouchers. But for that money, you should consider a packaged account that offers insurance instead. 

Although M&S Bank is owned by HSBC, it operates under its own banking licence which means customers are entitled to full deposit protection up to £85,000.

Who are the worst banks?

With a customer score of 58%, TSB has fallen from 4th to joint bottom in our table, making it the worst bank for customer satisfaction along with Bank of Ireland.

This is the first survey we've done since its botched IT migration led to chaos for its customers and an increase in fraud attempts.

More than half (56%) of its customers told us they had experienced technical issues in the past year, many of whom gave it two-star ratings for both customer service and dealing with complaints. 

TSBs fall from grace may well be short-lived, but several of the biggest high street names find themselves at the wrong end of our table year after year, namely Bank of Ireland, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and its subsidiary Ulster Bank.

Brands such as Santander, Halifax, and Barclays have much-improved scores this time around, but HSBC and Citibank are below average once again. 

Don't settle for mediocrity from your bank. Thanks to the Current Account Switch Service, you can vote with your feet and move to a new provider in just seven working days.

All of your existing payments are automatically swapped to the new account.

Should anything go wrong, you’ll be entitled to reimbursement, and any payments sent to your old account will be forwarded for at least three years.

About Which?'s bank account research

Which? Customer Score

Which?'s rating for customer satisfaction, based on feedback from real customers. The score is made up of a customer's overall satisfaction with the brand, and how likely they are to recommend that brand to a friend.

We surveyed 4,255 members of the general public in August 2018.

Product score

We analyse 38 different elements of bank accounts, including rewards and benefits, fees and charges and how you can operate the account, to calculate a product rating score. 

Which? Recommended Provider status

A Customer Score of 70% makes a brand eligible for Which? Recommended Provider status, but we’ll only award this if its main current account achieves an above average product score.

It must also offer an account sitting in the top ten for at least two of the following: credit interest, cashback and other rewards, an arranged overdraft.

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