M&S Bank Launches Free Current Account
If someone asked you to name a bank, it is unlikely you would even contemplate saying the words “Sainsbury’s”, “Tesco”, or “M&S”, but more and more supermarkets are trying their hand at banking.
Marks & Spencer actually launched two premium current accounts back in September 2012, both aimed at regular M&S shoppers and with monthly fees. But now, in a bid to bring more customers in and to rival the big banking names, M&S Bank is launching a new bank account, but this current account is going to be free to use.
The account is boasting some features that will leave many people contemplating switching over: a cheap overdraft, low overseas charges, a reward scheme, and no monthly fees. And if that wasn’t enough, if you decided to switch over to them they will give you a £100 gift card, but this will be an M&S gift card that you will only be able to spend on shopping in their stores.
The rewards system consists of account holders earning a loyalty point for every pound spent in Marks & Spencer, both in-store and online, and for every 100 points earned customers will receive a £1 M&S voucher. A £500 overdraft also comes automatically with the account, the first £100 apparently interest fee.
As with most banks, customers will be able to bank online and over the telephone with their M&S accounts, as well as at many of their stores. And this is where some of the attraction is going to lie: the bank will be open at the same hours as the stores, meaning that it will have longer opening hours than any UK bank on the high street, including evenings and weekends.
USwitch.com personal finance expert Jafar Hassan doesn’t know if the M&S account is a viable threat to some of the big banking names that first spring to mind, but it will definitely “shake up the retail banking industry” when competing with Sainsbury’s, Tesco, and the like.
He added that Marks & Spencer is offering customers the chance to shop and bank under the same roof while traditional banks seem to keep shutting down high street branches. “The ability to manage your money at an M&S store could be very appealing to loyal shoppers,” he said, “especially with many branches open in the evenings and at weekends.”
“Providers really want current account business because it is their key relationship builder,” agrees David Black from Consumer Intelligence. “Both Sainsbury’s and Tesco say their banking customers spend more in their stores than other customers, so M&S stores could also benefit.”