I moved to Citibank six years ago. Although it is the largest bank in the world, I was, at the time, a little concerned that it only had six branches in the UK.
There is one thing that has caused more disatisfaction with British bank customers, and that is the high penalties if one slips unwittingly into the red.
However, I don’t want to mislead you. Citibank also has high penalties, as high as any British bank.
But they must have had. as a member of their executive staff, someone who had more than one GCSE. This person came up with a very good idea. Every customer has an automatic £500 overdraft. The only thing the bank ask is, each month you must be in the “black” for at least one day.
Arrangement Fee: There is no arrangement fee to pay for this overdraft, no matter how many times you use it, as long as you keep the the rule mentioned above.
Interest payable: There is no interest to pay for this overdraft, no matter how many times you use it, as long as you keep the the rule mentioned above.
So the person who came up with this idea, with one fell swoop, cut out 99% of complaints which could lead to disatisfied customers. And, considering the bank also pays up to 2% on cheque account balances – it is a very good deal indeed. And what it means is, as a salaried person, you may not need to go hungry towards the end of the month, or if Mum sends you a cheque for your birthday, you don’t need to wait until it clears before you buy your birthday present.
Paying in: Six branches, so you are probably thinking that you have to trust to the British postal system to send in any cheques you receive. Not at all. You can pay in, completely free of charge, any number of cheques or cash at any branch of Lloys Bank.
Drawing money out: You will receive a cash or debit card with your new account and you can use this to draw out money, from any ATM with the Visa sign. Anywhere in the world. I can’t recally how much you can draw out a day, but I think it is in the region of £500.
ATM costs: In the UK, if you ensure you go to any bank or building society and use the ATM on the outside wall, this should be completely free. On machines found in shops, you need to check if there is a charge by the company who installed the machine, for its use. I have used the ones at Tesco and I know those are free.
Telephone Banking: There is a full telephone banking service available in the UK and you are also able to speak to a human.
Internet Banking: There is a full Internet Banking service available which you can use in conjunction with telephone banking.
Telephone number: This is a free 0800 number, not the expensive high rate 0870 number.
Alert Service: This carries a small charge but you can have the bank send you an SMS message, and also an e-mail message, informing you of your bank balance each month.
The only snag I can see with the entire set-up is that the largest bank in the world cannot talk to the fastest growning company in the world. I am referring to eBay/PayPal. For reasons which could probably refer to security and safety, Citibank are not happy with a two way link where PayPal can claw back money without Citibanks customers permission. But I am informed that both companies are working on it.