Opinion: Time for ComparetheBank.com?

Up to now, people have been much more likely to switch their utility suppliers than their bank, due largely to the hassle factor and perceived potential risk of direct debits not being switched over correctly, says Kathryn Bamber of Astute Wealth Management.

But this could all be due to change, because following recommendations from the Independent Commission on Banking in 2011, from next week, it will be easier than it has ever been for personal customers to change their bank.

The government will even make it easy for you to choose which bank suits you best, because their Money Advice Service website allows you to compare the different offerings from the banks and building societies which have signed up to this new service from the comfort of your own armchair, whatever type of current account you hold.

For example, if you have a standard bank account with a debit card and an option for an overdraft facility, you just type in how much is going in each month, how much is left at the end of each month plus whether you ever have an unauthorised overdraft, and it will come up with all the options and the relative costs and/or benefits so you can choose which would provide you with the services and facilities you need at the best price.

If you decide that you want to change banks, there is no need to even visit your old bank as you just pick a date that you want everything to switch over (which should be at least 7 working days from the date of the request) and the new bank will sort everything out for you, including transferring the standing orders, direct debits, any credit balance and issuing the instruction to close the old account. For some people, the benefits of changing banks could run into hundreds of pounds so it is definitely worth looking at.