First Direct charges customers for current accounts

16 November 2006
Internet bank First Direct has announced it will impose a £10 monthly fee on current account holders who do not pay £1,500 into their account each month.

The introduction of the fee in February will impact on an estimated 200,000 customers of a total customer base of 1.3 million.

The move is designed to encourage customers to close accounts which they rarely or never use, according to chief executive Chris Pilling.

First Direct has 40,000 dormant accounts, as well as a number of customers who use the bank for just five to ten transactions annually, which are costly for the bank to run.

Critics have argued the move penalises those on lower incomes.

Nick White, director of financial services at, pointed out that asking customers to deposit £1,500 monthly excludes those with salaries under £25,000.

Average income is estimated by the National Office of Statistics at £23,244.

Financial research company Defaqto's head of banking David Black has argued the announcement marks a "seemingly inevitable move towards paying for the majority of full service current accounts".

But HSBC, HBOS and Barclays have all stressed their accounts will remain charge-free.

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