Written by Karen Bryan
I recently went to my local Santander branch. I’d been wrestling with the variable versus fixed rate Cash ISA question for long enough. Prompted by my husband, it was time for action. I decided to transfer my Cash ISA pot to Santander 2 Year Fixed Major ISA account, paying 4.0%, with a 0.1% bonus payable if Rory McIlroy wins a Golf Major.
Initially, I was going to do the Cash ISA transfer by printing the form from the pdf and posting it to Santander. However for some reason the pdf wouldn’t open. On reflection, I thought it a better idea to walk over to the local branch, as then the transfer form could be sent by Santander internal mail, versus being posted with the risk of being lost by Royal Mail.
It was a wet day, which worked in my favour as Santander was pretty quiet and a member of staff was able to do my transfer right away. She informed me that there was usually an appointment system. I thought, well if you want me to transfer my Cash ISA pot from the Halifax, I wouldn’t be very happy to be told I’d have to come back another day.
Anyway, I had all the relevant information and ID for the transfer to be processed fairly quickly. Then came the sting in the tail, the bank sales pitch for the Santander 123 Cashback Current Account. Now I’m not blaming the employee, I’m sure they are all under pressure to sell other Santander products to customers and may even receive a bonus if they achieve a sale. I was able to say that I had examined thoroughly that current account and that I was better off with a Halifax Reward Current Account.
Next it was the benefits of the Santander 123 Credit Card, to which I replied I was getting a good deal with my Halifax Clarity Card, with cashback and no overseas transactions fees. The Santander 123 card also has an annual fee, refunded for the first year if you open a Santander 123 Cashback Current Account.
The Halifax are just as bad, when I went into the branch and said I’d like to to do a Cash ISA transfer a couple of years ago, they told me I first needed to make an appointment. I replied I was too busy to come back again and they did open the account there and then, with a bit of a sales pitch for other Halifax products thrown in.
This is why, on the whole, I prefer to do my banking online. Although there is usually an attempt to sell you other products, with Halifax’s personalised loan marketing blurb startegically placed in the middle of the list of your accounts, it’s easier to ignore than someone in the flesh trying to sell you something.
My money tip is to go in prepared for the banks sales pitch but never to sign up for any financial products until you’ve done your own research into all the products on offer in the market. Your bank will only be promoting their own products, which may not be the best available for your circumstances.