Nothing says “badge of success” quite like a private bank account. Historically, offering them to customers has been the preserve of the private bank, but in recent years, growing numbers of high street institutions have begun to offer packaged – or premium – accounts to customers with substantial savings and (more often than not) six-figure salaries.
Typically, these accounts cost up to £25 a month and come with a range of benefits. Travel and mobile phone insurance are usually standard, along with car breakdown cover and preferential rates on overdrafts. The perks can be more exciting too, with VIP airport lounge use and restaurant and entertainment ticket discounts.
If you’re looking to save time, experience a more personal service and make the most of a selection of lifestyle perks, a premium account is worth considering. City A.M. Money takes a whistle-stop tour of some of the more accessible accounts currently on the market.
Investec’s private bank account claims to offer professionals the high levels of service and personal attention you’d expect from any other private bank – but for considerably less.
The current account pays interest at 0.25 per cent annual equivalent rate (AER) variable on the entire balance, and will keep paying interest on any money spent on your Investec card right up to the date of your next statement. “This is the first time that an account like this has been available to professionals earning £75,000 a year or more,” says Investec’s Matthew Cavalier. The all-inclusive monthly account fee for the account is just £10 – that compares to the £500 charged annually for Investec’s jet setter-orientated Voyage account, which also has a £150,000 salary requirement.
The downside is that Investec’s low-budget option is rather spartan when it comes to the lifestyle perks. It does offer the regular traveller some plus points: aside from your £10 monthly charge, you won’t pay for Chaps payments, stopping cheques, duplicate statements or electronic transfers – and the currency conversion fee is capped at just 2 per cent for withdrawals and spending on the Investec card.
As many private bank current accounts pay no interest at all, Investec’s offering does look comparatively appealing. But unless you want the travel perks, a high street current account could offer far more attractive rates. Santander’s 123 account, for instance, pays 3 per cent on your entire balance up to £20,000 when you have at least £3,000 in your account, for a monthly fee of £2.
To qualify for HSBC’s Premier account, you must either have savings or investments of at least £50,000 with HSBC in the UK, or have an annual income of at least £100,000, along with a mortgage, investment or life insurance with the bank. It’s free but pays 0 per cent incredit interest. There’s also a £500 interest-free overdraft.
On the travel front, the Premier account offers holders global family travel insurance. The Premier credit card may also be useful for frequent flyers; for every £10 you spend, you’ll earn 10 air miles. Further, you can earn points towards the usual perks: vouchers, fine wines, holidays or charity donations. The Premier account can allow you to save £300 on mortgage fees.
MoneySuperMarket has listed the account as its toppick premier account, saying that it’s worth getting for the travel insurance. The mortgage discounts are good, it says, but check the whole mortgage market before choosing the account.
The RBS Black account, which costs £24 a month, says it’s designed with current customers in mind. But anyone can apply for it if they have a minimum income of £100,000 that will be paid into their RBS account, or if they have at least £300,000 in outstanding RBS mortgage borrowings.
RBS focuses on customer service. As with most premium offerings, you get a dedicated manager and access to a 24/7 telephony team. Extended family travel insurance with no upper age limit, and access to 700 VIP airport lounges worldwide, come as standard. Further benefits include 25 per cent off some Premier League, Wimbledon and British Open tickets, car breakdown cover and home emergency services. Just make sure that these are perks you will use. After all, a free current account like Nationwide’s FlexAccount offers European travel insurance up to the age of 75, with family upgrades. And the Nationwide FlexPlus account not only gives you travel insurance, but also smartphone insurance for all the family at the same address, and UK and Europe breakdown cover for £120 a year. It also offers 3 per cent AER interest on balances up to £2,500.
Lloyds Bank customers with an income of £100,000 and above and/or £250,000 worth of investments will be able to benefit from the Club Lloyds Private Banking account. Launched at the end of last year, it offers an enhanced personal service and access to rates on other products, including a monthly savings account with 4 per cent AER on savings up to £400 each month, and a mortgage rate reduction of 0.20 per cent.
Lifestyle benefits are more modest than some other accounts, but range from cinema tickets to discounts at over 6,000 restaurants, via an annual Gourmet Society membership. You'll also get worldwide family travel insurance, breakdown cover and mobile phone insurance.
The Club Lloyds Private Banking current account is available to new and existing customers for sole or joint accounts. A £5 Club Lloyds fee will be charged and automatically refunded to all Private Banking clients.
Like RBS, Barclays is keen to hammer home that there is always an adviser available to talk 24/7 – and its award-winning mobile banking app on offer – if you have its Premier account. You only need an annual gross income (paid into a Barclays current account) of £75,000, or savings and investments of £100,000 or more through the bank. As with Lloyds, the account offers cinema and restaurant discounts – and free entry to 280 English Heritage sites. You can even get a tea or coffee from Patisserie Valerie every day.
But the account pays no interest, and you will also need to fork out for travel and gadget insurance, Chaps and international payments, and withdrawals abroad.