Charge of the bank brigade

As the banks and the Office of Fair trading continue to contest the issue of overdraft fees in High Court bank charges has taken centre stage.

Paying for banking is normally considered a bad thing, but when it comes to packaged accounts the fee you pay goes towards extra services meaning that your bank could become a one stop shop for many of your financial service needs and make you eligible for additional benefits too.

Monthly charge

Packaged accounts come with a monthly charge which in most cases is around £10 to £12, but in return for this you receive goods and services which the average customer isn’t eligible for.

If the extras are worth £120 to £144 a year then packaged accounts could be a good deal for you as long as you work that out from the start.

Covering the jet set

A common benefit of packaged accounts is travel insurance, and when you think that cover for a single European trip could cost on average around £25 per person this could come in handy, particularly if you are a frequent traveller.

HSBC lives up to its international credentials with its Bank Account Plus which provides comprehensive family travel insurance for trips across the globe.

Banking on a breakdown

With the majority of motorists taking out insurance against the car breaking down this could be done via your packaged account if you were to take up the Halifax Ultimate Reward Current Account which comes with RAC breakdown cover.

Giving you extra

If financial services aren’t tempting you then many of these accounts come with hefty discounts on restaurants and shops and if your after something even more different still then Smile’s current account comes with a range of ethical goods and discounts such as 20% off at Hug Clothing, the fair trade retailer.

What’s the rate?

These extras sound good but it’s important to remember that in today’s market there are plenty of accounts offering high interest rates meaning your money could grow rapidly if put in the right account.

The HSBC account currently comes with a rate of 8% on balances up to £1,000 after which it drops back down to 2.47%, while the Halifax account comes in at 6% up to £2,501 and Smile comes in at 2.75%. All these rates are pretty competitive when you consider that almost half of current account pays less than one per cent interest.

The rates however aren’t quite market leading, if you’re just interested in an account which pays out the maximum cash sum then at present you’re probably best off with Alliance and Leicester Premier Direct Current Account which pays out a massive 8.5% on balances up to £2500.

An all round deal

If you’re after a bank account which does more than just look after your money then a packaged account could be right up your street. Benefits such as travel insurance and breakdown cover are products most people want anyway and if your bank can provide them at a reasonable price then why not take advantage.

Remember to make sure that you’re happy with the actual bank and the services you would normally expect first however!

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