My bank, Nationwide, has just made me an offer. If I pay them ten pounds a month, I get a special account, which gives me the following benefits.
- Free worldwide travel insurance for you and your family, including winter sports, golf, wedding and business cover
- Free Worldwide mobile phone insurance
- Free UK & European breakdown cover
- 3% AER (2.96% gross p.a.) variable in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500
Is this a joke?
They say it’s designed to make my life simple.
Let’s take each point.
Starting with the travel insurance.
I don’t have any family, who are dependent on me. I don’t do winter sports or golf. I don’t have any plans to get married and my business, if I have anything is enjoying myself.
I suppose I do need some form of travel insurance, but at the moment, I’ve no plans to go outside of an area, where I get decent healthcare on my EHIC.
The mobile phone insurance is irrelevant, as I use a £10 phone for my communications. If I lost it, I’d just buy another in the nearest O2 shop for a tenner.
Is the third point about breakdown insurance serious? I don’t have a car.
But I reserve my highest condemnation for the derisory interest rate on savings. I’m getting a safeguarded five percent on over a hundred thousand pounds with Zopa. So it’s not government guaranteed, but the company is run by people with intelligence and not a wunch of bankers.
There is no mention of the features I would like.
- Text messages every time, a transaction over a particular amount happens on a credit card or bank account.
- Annotated statements, that allow me to comment on transactions. Taken to its logical conclusion, you could even add a cost code, which could then be used by software to create a simple set of accounts.
- Full tracing on cashpoints, I’ve used. I’ve noticed that the records of those I used in Switzerland are much more detailed than the one I used yesterday in Islington.
- Customisation of my bank account, so that I set levels for alerts, withdrawals etc.
There is an opportunity out there and the first bank to go that way, gets my business.
In this article, the banks are accused of being less than co-operative with the peer-to-peer lender; Funding Circle.
Who’d have thought that those respectable banks, would do something like that?
If you wanted to get money out of someone else’s bank account, all you need to do is login to their computer and have the equipment necessary to perform a transfer.
My bank account is probably as secure as any other, but I never keep my card reader and the card together. Admittedly, all card readers for Nationwide are the same, but my passwords are only written in my brain.
But if you did manage to login, you could perform a transfer to your bank account, but it would probably require me to give in to threats to release the passwords.
But with a site like Zopa or Ratesetter and probably many others, where the only transfer out of the account can be to the bank account, where the money came from in the first place, you’d have quite a problem getting round the security measures. The very fact, that they exist, would probably mean you’d try to crack a more mainstream system, like an account with one of the major banks.
It illustrates how often a simple absolute rule, is often a much more secure method of protection, than something based on complicated hardware and tortuous passwords.
Read it, remember the salient points and if you don’t swallow the message about the banks, you don’t deserve to have your savings protected. Take this statement from Giles.
A lot of banking is in a black box and consumers don’t really know what happens. Give your money to Barclays, in a savings account, and god knows that happens to it. Is it going half way round the world to buy some weird book of securities, or is it being lent to a small business in Sheffield?
A lot of people put their money in the Co-operative Bank because of reasons like this.
Twice now in the last three months, I’ve been late with credit card payments. Nothing serious, but I got an extra charge of £12.00. I think it happened, as did the other one, because I tend to pay my credit cards all at the same time at the end of the month, when my American Express Card comes in and I’ve just had my pension payment.
So as I was flush at that time, I paid off most of the debt on the card. But apparently, I paid too early in the last accounting period or something.
The last time, it happened on another card, they phoned me to say why hadn’t I paid. When I said what about the extra payment they gave it back.
But how many of us, get caught out by rules, that need to be read by a lawyer with a fine tooth comb?
What would help, would be the ability to define your payment date on your credit card. I seem to remember doing this many years in the past. Zopa incidentally, allows this when you borrow and even allows you to change the date, due to a change of circumstances.
In some ways I’m getting my own back. For travel, hotels and large purchases, I now use my American Express card and for small ones, I now use cash. The problem is Waitrose, where their self-service tills don’t take cash. Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury, who both have better tills, do.
There is a good review of peer-to-peer lending in The Times today. One of the most significant things of the piece is that Google has taken a small stake in Lending club. There’s more on the Google deal here.
The banks might not like it, but the writing is on the wall.
Today, I’ve started to move my working deposit account to Zopa.
Banks can’t even get their electricity right!
I took these pictures of Lloyds TSB at The Angel.
They were suggesting you went to their branch in Kings Cross. But there must have been six operating cash machines and four banks within crawling distance of this branch.
Perhaps the episode shows how little we miss a particular branch. After all, there wasn’t a queue of angry customers outside, waiting to cash cheques.
So perhaps, if the branch closed permanently, it wouldn’t be missed. except of course, by the staff who work there.
I wouldn’t know whether it is going bust or not, but because of its political leanings and links to the Labour Party, I bet that management of the bank, wish that George Osborne wasn’t Chancellor.
What I find strange about the bank, is that why some of my left-leaning friends, who support Labour, bank with other banks, like Lloyds, Barclays or HSBC.
There are reports from the United States about what must rank as the world’s biggest bank robbery. The story is on France24 here. Here’s the opening paragraph.
Cyber thieves around the world stole $45 million by hacking into debit card companies, lifting withdrawal limits, and helping themselves from cash machines, US authorities said Thursday.
It just shows how you should carefully monitor your bank account.
I think it also shows, that your money is probably safer in an account or securities, where it is working hard. After all, suppose you have money in a deposit account, in the same bank account, as your main current account, a crooked bank employee could perhaps hack your account, move the money to your current account and get his friends to withdraw it from cash machines with forged bank cards. It may seem to be an unlikely scenario, but when the truth comes out from this mega-robbery, it might be only one step away from a scenario the banks believe can’t happen.
A bank is only as secure as its weakest link. As we’ve seen over the last few years, they have found a few of those. But how many more are there?
Unfortunately, I’ve found it impossible to login, so I e-mailed them this.
Please can you close my account and return any monies to me.
Unfortiunately, I can’t login, as I’ve forgotten my password and I can’t answer the questions correctly to reset it. When I registered, I couldn’t answer the question about who my best friend at school was, as I didn’t have one.
It actually, is true, but I didn’t really have a best friend at my school, as my best friend, who lived a few doors away, went to a boarding school.