Monday, 13 May 2013

Those Post Office current accounts

It's worth taking notice of the launch of the Post Office's current accounts, because of its wide reach - 11,500 outlets - and its presence in communities without a bank branch.

A lot of people will look at them, hoping for convenience, even though most big banks allow you to operate their accounts, in a limited way, in Post Office branches.

So what are the stand out features?

The Standard Account promises relatively low interest on overdrafts and "no unarranged borrowing charges".

But be aware that if you try to make a payment by cheque, Direct Debit or standing order, which would take into an unauthorised overdraft, it's likely to be declined - and you would pay a £15 unpaid item fee.

The Packaged Account also gives you travel insurance, breakdown cover and other extras for £8 a month.

As with all packaged accounts, whether it's worthwhile depends on whether the extra features suit you. This travel insurance only covers travel in Europe, for instance, and it won't always cover your children when they go off on their own. 

The Control Account insulates you from the danger of unexpected charges, important if you are struggling with debt or a low income.

However the £5 monthly charge, or £60 a year, could put people off. As with the other Post Office accounts there are plenty of alternatives available. Here's one list of basic bank accounts and there are others.

The accounts are being tried out in 29 branches in East Anglia (Cambridge, Thetford, Bury, King's Lynn etc), available from today.

The Post Office isn't a bank. The government rejected the idea of turning it into a People's Bank. We already own RBS, after all, and part of Lloyds!

So bear in mind that the banking service is actually provided by Bank of Ireland.

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