For a monthly fee, packaged accounts offer you benefits like travel insurance, preferential rate overdrafts and more. But these extras aren’t always worth the fee. Here’s what you need to know before you decide.
- What are packaged accounts?
- What to watch out for
- Should you choose a packaged account?
- Shop around and compare packaged accounts with other accounts
- If your bank or building society moves you to a packaged account
What are packaged accounts?
Packaged accounts offer a range of extras in exchange for a monthly fee.
The benefits vary by account, but you can often get:
- Travel insurance
- ID fraud insurance
- Car breakdown cover
- Mobile phone insurance
- Commission-free foreign currency
- A discounted – or interest free – overdraft
- Preferential rates on other financial products
What to watch out for
- The cost of the account might be higher than the cost of buying the benefits separately.
- The insurance you get might be pretty basic – it might not give you the level of cover you need. Travel and life insurance might have age limits or exclusions that make them unsuitable for you.
- You might not need all the benefits attached to the account.
- With some banks or building societies, you have to activate each of the services before you can use them. Check whether you need to do this when you open the account, otherwise you might find that your insurance is invalid and that you’ve been paying for something you can’t use.
Should you choose a packaged account?
Packaged accounts can be a good deal for some, but they are not for everyone.
If you’re thinking of getting one, ask yourself:
- How many of the extras do I really need?
- Could I get the services separately for less?
- Does the insurance give me the right amount of cover?
- Do I already have cover through another product? For example, do you have cover through your home insurance policy.
- If the account gives me an interest-free overdraft, am I currently paying overdraft fees and charges higher than the cost of the packaged account?
If you’re thinking about switching to a packaged account just because you need an overdraft, first ask your bank if they can add one to your existing current account.
If you don’t use it often, sticking with a free current account is probably the cheaper option.
Shop around and compare packaged accounts with other accounts
Comparison websites are a good starting point for anyone trying to find a current account tailored to their needs.
We recommend the following websites for comparing current accounts:
- Go Compare – This also allows you to use the government-backed Midata tool to securely upload your past transactions for customised current account recommendations.
- Money Saving Expert
- Money Supermarket
- Comparison websites won’t all give you the same results, so make sure you use more than one site before making a decision.
- It is also important to do some research into the type of product and features you need before making a purchase or changing supplier.
If your bank or building society moves you to a packaged account
Your bank or building society shouldn’t move you from a free account to a packaged account without your permission.
If your bank does move your account without your permission, or if you feel you’ve been mis-sold, find out how to make a complaint.
- Sort out a money problem or make a complaint.
- Use Which’s template letter for mis-sold packaged accounts.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.