Rates may look good, but do you always check the small print?
Anyone looking for good value in a current account would be attracted by one that claimed to pay even higher interest than that available for savings
So, if you found a current account offering 7% interest,
you might be tempted put your money in.
One Money Box listener thought just that, but when he asked the bank for details, he found the deal was not quite as he expected.
What is your experience of bank and building society marketing?
Do you think savings and accounts are being promoted fairly and clearly enough?
Or are customers adequately switched on?
We asked for your comments - a selection of which are below - the debate is now closed.
While I was in my local Alliance & Leicester branch on other business, I enquired about their Premier Regular Saver, boasting a 12% per annum interest rate guaranteed fixed for 1 year. I opted for the maximum £250 per month and expected to receive 12% on a £3000 balance at the end of the year, i.e. £360. During the application process it was not explained to me that in fact, interest is calculated on each monthly deposit. This results in interest of £195 which equates to 6.5% for the year. I feel I was mislead by the 12% per annum rate advertised, and by the lack of information given to me at the branch.
D. Smart, Upminster
Most banks penalise an investor for removing their money by taking a month's interest. An extra issue here is also when money moves about there can be two more losses; 1) of interest while the money is being cleared and 2) from unavailability of the capital. I have also noticed a disparity in quality of access to internet accounts between one and another building society and bank. This is not in the small print.
If, as the Alliance & Leicester spokesman claimed on your programme, they charge £10 a month for their high interest "Premier 50" current account just to cover the added benefits, then why don't they offer the same interest rate (7%) without the benefits, and without the £10 a month charge - wouldn't it be popular?
Tom Jones, Wrexham
The banks do this to get themselves to the top of the "best buy" tables. Well they clearly are not best buys, so they should not be at the top of the table. Instead of complaining about the banks, one could equally complain about the compilation of these tables. Whilst I do not like the way A&L try to attract customers, I have a greater grievance with incompetent journalists who cannot identify what is a good buy and what is not.
Last year I enquired at A&L about a new high interest current account. I was incensed to find that, since I was an existing A&L customer, I was not eligible to apply for that account. I seriously considered closing my existing account at that time, but (probably due to inertia) did not do anything about it. However, the more I hear about A&L's tactics, the less I feel inclined to continue to patronise them.
J Armstrong, London
Alliance & Leicester's e-saver high interest account is advertised as "easy access" which I believe contravenes the trade description act, because you lose a whole month's interest on the complete amount of savings if you need to take just a small amount out.
Mrs M Birch, Luton
When listening to today's Money Box, I was quite amazed to hear how gullible some people can be. Surely most adults would realise there was a catch to an offer of 7% interest on a current account. I was tempted into the local A&L office by the huge orange posters in the window advertising this offer, but was immediately wary of the marketing technique. I asked the counter assistant for more details and was clearly told that there would be a charge of £10 per month, but that this would include free worldwide travel insurance up to age 79 (which is hard to find - even at a price - after the age of 70), some limited free medical cover and also free credit card insurance. Obviously you have to be aware that the interest rate will fall to the Bank of England base rate less 1% in just over a year (31/01/09), which the bank no doubt hopes you will forget or ignore. At least it does not demand a minimum income as some banks do, so it suits people like me who have to live on a state pension. I actually thought this was quite a generous offer, as long as one uses the benefits.
J Meadowcroft, Exeter
My parents were attracted to the A&L account by the travel insurance, but they were asked to pay extra, due to their medical histories - including an open heart operation my Mother had at the age of four, which no other insurer has ever raised.
David Laturner, Bracknell
I found that a monthly fee would be taken out for the new Alliance & Leicester +50 Account was easy enough to see in the small print. It pays to check out all the facts first. I also knew about the health benefits and travel insurance being offered.
Mrs Russell, Fairbourne
I am extremely angry at my e-savings account, which regularly trumpeted an excellent rate, without telling you that accounts are bracketed: e-savings (1),(2),(3) etc. I believed I was getting the announced e-savings rate, when in fact it had been superseded twice and I was left nearly 1% behind. So much for rewarding customer loyalty.
G Mullin, Ross on Wye
The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.