Interactive Investor

First Direct unveils current account switching offer worth up to £700

24th April 2018 00:08

Edmund Greaves from interactive investor


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First Direct has unveiled somewhat unusual incentives to switch to its current account, including online self-development courses and travel booking vouchers.

The bank, which won Moneywise’s best current account provider award at our Customer Service Awards 2017, pulled its long-standing £100 cash switching offer on Sunday 22 April.

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But from today, First Direct is offering a panoply of products in a bid to entice switchers. First Direct says all of these gifts are equivalent to or more valuable than its former £100 cash bonus. Some training courses, for example, are worth as much as £700.

The bank is, however, keeping its £100 switching bonus for customers who are unhappy their service and decide to leave after six months.

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The change comes after research by First Direct found that customers put a higher value on experiences than cash. Joe Gordon, head of First Direct, comments: “We believe the time is right to shake up the switcher market; just like we did all those years ago when we were the first to introduce cash as a joining incentive.

“Typically, First Direct’s customers are digitally-savvy and entrepreneurially-minded, choosing to bank with us for our pioneering tech and award-winning customer service. From them we know cash into your account when you join is great, but it can get lost on day-to-day spending. These new incentives will start our relationship off on a more personal level, offering something that can be enjoyed over a longer period of time.”

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So what’s included in the offer?

New current account customers will be offered a choice from the following selection of welcome gifts:

  • Over 300 online self-development courses from Blue Mountain Training Solutions

These courses have been specifically chosen to appeal to the lifestyle profile of First Direct’s typical customers and include courses which could help customers with their own business ventures; for example, a course in ‘ultimate graphic design’ (worth £700), ‘marketing with Google and YouTube’ (worth £200),

Other courses include the ‘art of travel photography’ and bartending and drink mixologist masterclasses.

  • A £150 Expedia e-voucher

This credit gives customers the freedom to pay for flights, car hire, trains or a huge range of different accommodation types.

It offers ‘split payment functionality’; so customers can pay using the e-voucher and their own funds if they wish.

  • A choice of gadgets

These include the following products with the cheapest price we could find online: Bose on-ear wireless headphones (worth £169.95 on Amazon), a Bose Soundlink2 Bluetooth speaker (worth £149.95 on Amazon), Amazon Echo Spot (worth £119.99 on Amazon), and a Fitbit Charge 2 Special Edition (worth £139.99 on John Lewis).

How do I qualify for the offer?

To qualify for the switching bonus, you must pay in £1,000 in the first three months of opening the account and switch your direct debits. Once this has been achieved, customers will receive an email with an activation code within 14 days to register on the promotional website.

Once you have your gift code, you have 90 days to choose your gift. All the switching gifts are fulfilled by a third-party company called TLC Marketing Ltd.

The bank account itself remains unchanged from the previous iteration, and will continue to offer a free £250 overdraft. 

The Moneywise verdict

This offer is quite different from anything other banks provide. While some people will prefer cold hard cash, First Direct says it wants a different kind of offer that doesn’t just get swallowed up paying bills. Some of the gifts available are very valuable too. Moneywise had a look at the company that offers the training courses and found courses available that cost as much as £700. Such a leading offer could force other banks to up their incentive game too.  

This article was originally published in our sister magazine Moneywise, which ceased publication in August 2020.

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