The Two Minute Review
Bank of Scotland might not be as exciting as some of the newer banks, but the network of branches in Scotland, the interest paid on balances and the insurance packages make its current accounts right for some.
- 🏦 Lots of branches in Scotland.
- 📈 ”Vantage” add-on gives you interest on balances.
- 🏥 Insurance options with Platinum account.
- 📱 App is fine and improving, but not at the level of challenger banks.
- 😐 Customer service is middling.
- 😲 39.9% interest on overdraft isn’t great.
- 🌎 Foreign transaction fees make its accounts unattractive for travel.
- 👛 Not a great interest rate on savings.
Ranked #21 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK.
What The Experts Say
The Times Money Mentor awarded Bank of Scotland an overall score of 67%. Customer happiness only came in at 63%.
What Users Say
Each year the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) commissions an independent report that asks a thousand customers of each of the major banks in the UK how they feel about various aspects of the service they are getting. The results put Bank of Scotland in 9th position.
Click to see the full picture.
Bank of Scotland has a Trustpilot rating of 1.6 but here at The Grade we like to dig a bit further.
When you exclude reviews the company has itself invited and look just at organic reviews, the average score is actually 1.43. In terms of organic Trustpilot rating this means Bank of Scotland is number 17 out of the 25 personal banks/current accounts we review.
At the last check, Smart Money People had collected 223 reviews which gave Bank of Scotland an average score of 3.9 out of 5.
Bank of Scotland in a Nutshell?
The Bank of Scotland is a commercial bank based in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is one of the oldest banks in the world, having been established by an Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1695. The bank has a long history of providing banking services to individuals, businesses, and governments in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.
Today, the Bank of Scotland is a division of Lloyds Banking Group, which is one of the largest banking groups in the UK.
Bank of Scotland has 2.8 million customers who are mainly based in Scotland. It operates 660 branches across Scotland. While there are few branches in the rest of the UK, branches of Halifax, which is also part of the Lloyds Banking Group, are able to help Bank of Scotland customers with basic tasks such as change of address, depositing cheques and paying in cash.
Opening a Bank Of Scotland Account
The whole process is pretty simple, can be done online and approval usually takes about 10 minutes. When opening an account you will be asked for:
- ID (passport, driving licence).
- Address information for the past 3 years.
- Income/expenditure details.
- Whether you want an arranged overdraft or not.
- Whether you are switching from another account and whether you want to use their switching service to shut down your old account and move over regular payments/Direct Debits.
- Which account you want to apply for.
What Accounts Do They Offer?
While there is a very basic account, we wouldn’t recommend going for it – especially when they have another free account with more benefits called the Classic Account. They also have an under-19s account.
This is Bank of Scotland’s bog standard account for adults. However, it does have a few nice features:
- The Vantage add-on: If you pay in at least £1,000 a month and have two Direct Debits coming out of the account you are eligible for “Vantage”. This essentially pays interest on your balance. Between £1 and £3000 this is set at 1.5% AER, then for balances between £4,000 and £5,000 this is 3% AER. The interest is paid each month. Yes, there are better rates on savings accounts, but this isn’t a bad deal for a current account as many are not paying any interest on balances right now.
- Everyday offers: Exclusive cashback offers that you can activate through the banking app. A typical example is 10% off at Costa Coffee or 10% off at Papa John’s. If you’re already a Lloyds or Halifax user then you will have something similar within your banking app.
- Save the change: If you switch this on, all transactions are rounded to the nearest pound and the difference is deposited into a nominated Bank of Scotland savings account. So if you bought a newspaper for £2.40, it would be rounded to £3.00 and 60p would be deposited into savings. Some find this a painless way of saving and it’s nice to see the high street banks adopting (or copying!) some of the innovations of challenger banks.
- Overdraft: Be careful – this is charged at 39.9% interest.
So overall, it’s an OK account. It has some nice savings features and the interest is a welcome, if beatable, bonus. It also reassuring for many to be part of a big banking group and if you live in Scotland you’re going to have a big network of branches (though, as noted above, in the rest of the UK you can often go into a Halifax branch for simple queries and tasks).
This will set you back £10 a month. You get all the features of the Classic Account (with the same requirements to switch on Vantage), but you also get:
- European Travel Insurance: This stops once you are 65. It covers you and your family and extends to winter sports. You are covered for cancellations, lost luggage and medical costs – but always read the terms and conditions to check the specifics.
- AA Breakdown Insurance: Includes roadside assistance.
- Mobile Phone Insurance: This covers one device per account or 2 for a joint account. There’s an excess of £100 and you can’t claim more than twice a year. You are covered for loss, theft, damage or breakdown.
This will cost you back £21 a month. You get all the features of the Silver Account but the travel and breakdown cover are more comprehensive:
- Worldwide (rather than just European) travel insurance
- AA Breakdown Insurance: Includes roadside assistance, national recovery (i.e. you will be taken to a location by the AA), and cover for breakdowns at home.
- Mobile Phone Insurance: Stays the same as the Silver Account.
As with the classic account, we think the interest on these paid for accounts is nice but there are better accounts out there for both interest and rewards.
The insurance packages on offer are usually cheaper than buying them all separately and more convenient.
If you are after a fuss-free current account, that offers insurance and a bit of interest while providing a straightforward digital experience/app then this could be for you.
Anything to Watch Out For?
If you tend to dip into an overdraft though, we would steer clear. The 39.9% interest can easily be beaten – for example, First Direct offers a £250 interest-free overdraft.
We also wouldn’t recommend this as a travel card. From Bank of Scotland:
“Foreign currency transaction fee of 2.99% of the amount of the transaction, this is a fee for currency conversion. We will also charge you a foreign currency cash fee of £1.50.”
You can see a detailed breakdown of fees here.
We’re also pretty disappointed that in the current climate Bank of Scotland is not offering a better rate of interest
Is Bank of Scotland Safe?
All accounts are backed by the Financial Services Compensating Scheme meaning all deposits up to £85,000 are protected (£170,000 for joint accounts). Do note though that this £85,000 is shared between any balance you have with Halifax as well.
How Good is the App and Digital Banking?
The app is clean and simple. You can do the basics like check balances, and transactions, update details and freeze lost cards. However, the budgeting functionality is pretty limited and you don’t get features like savings pots or split-the-bill tools like with newer banks.
Still, the save the change option is nice as are the cashback offers.
There is also a slightly hidden but useful tool to check your credit score by doing a soft check with TransUnion. This won’t affect your credit score.
We spend hours reading user comments to see what feedback people are giving. Here are some positive and critical comments that stood out to us:
I love the app for my bank account and the cashback, both of which make banking with the bank of scotland rewarding.
I have been with the Bank of Scotland for many years. I have never had any problems and have always found their customer service to be excellent in branch and over the phone.
Fantastic customer service
Highly recommended never had any issue with this bank. Helpful handy and really easy to access anything I need.
Constantl early interest rate cuts
Used to bank and have every saving possible with them until they continually cut everything. Now taken my business elsewhere, shame as app and interweb banking is well designed.and easy to use.
Long term current account
I have banked with BoS since leaving school. I have always found them rock solid and reliable. Recent history has been underwhelming with product interest rates.
Is Bank of Scotland A Good Bank?
Bank of Scotland is ranked #21 of 25 personal current accounts in the UK (click to see full list).
Are there better current accounts on the market? We’re calling out the following accounts as excellent:
They have a grade score of 76 - ranking them as the second-best UK bank. A long-standing reputation, great digital experience and top-notch customer service make them an excellent choice for most people.
We are sorely missing their £175 introductory offer however and hope they bring it back to market soon.