- Traditionally, people chose their bank account based on the interest rate.
- However, there a number of bank accounts offering alternative benefits. These are often known as ‘packaged accounts’.
- These extras often include various forms of insurance.
- Many ‘packaged’ accounts charge a monthly fee.
- Some of these services, such as personal budgeting, have no monetary value.
Traditionally, people chose their bank account based on the interest rate – a way of making their money grow.
But these days, with interest rates much lower than they used to be, more and more people are looking for accounts with other benefits.
The number of bank accounts offering alternative benefits – often known as ‘packaged accounts’ – has been growing in recent years. It’s estimated that more than 10 million people in the UK now use some kind of packaged bank account.
So what benefits can you expect – and are they worth the bother? Well, it all depends on your own needs, and how much you’re willing to pay.
Bank account benefits to look out for
Benefits can vary from account to account, but some of the things you’ll find include:
- Travel insurance
- Phone/gadget insurance
- Roadside emergency cover (e.g. AA membership)
- Free music/video downloads
- Personal budgeting service
- Interest-free overdraft
- Better deals on other financial products, such as loans and mortgages
There is usually a monthly fee for accounts that offer these services, but occasionally you’ll get some of them with ‘free’ accounts too.
Is it worth the money?
Although many people don’t want to pay for their bank account, the benefits you can receive can be worth significantly more than you pay – as long as you actually use them.
For example, if your account offers mobile phone insurance, check you aren’t already covered under your home insurance policy. And if you never go overdrawn, do you really need to pay for an account with no overdraft fees?
On the other hand, some people are happy to pay for certain services, such as personalised budgeting. Although this kind of service has no monetary value, it can help people avoid costly bank charges.
Recent research by thinkmoney.co.uk shows that 1 in 6 have paid over £100 in bank charges over the last 12 months – so it’s clear how this kind of service can help. And 5% of people don’t even know whether they’ve been charged.
Basic bank accounts with benefits
If you have a bad credit rating you may find yourself struggling to get any bank account, let alone one with all these added benefits.
However, most people should be able to get a basic bank account or a similar alternative. Basic bank accounts don’t tend to come with any added extras, but there are alternatives to a basic bank account that offer things like personalised budgeting services and even basic credit facilities.