How to move your money

January 14, 2015

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It’s great you’ve decided you want to move your money. Perhaps you’re sick of your money being used to fund irreversible climate change? Or maybe you’ve seen a bank, building society or credit union you like the look of on our website? Either way, it’s true that the big five high street banking groups are knee deep in fossil fuels, unethical investments and dodgy dealings – so we’ve made it our mission to help you get out, and to send your bank a message while you’re at it!

Thankfully, moving your money is now easier than ever, thanks to the Current Account Switching Service introduced in September 2013. The hardest part now is choosing where to put your money once you’ve moved!

We’ve made it easy for you to choose a better place for your money – both on our website listings of Good Money, as well as our Where to Move Your Money guide, which lists financial organisations that are free from fossil fuel investments. Our choices are based on the Move Your Money Bank Ranking scorecard, which ranks banks and building societies on their ethics, investments and behaviours, which you can read more about here.

Once you’ve decided where you’d like your money to do good, this guide will help you get it there. Got a place in mind for your money? Great, let’s get started!

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1) Let them know

 We all want banks to work in the interests of people and the planet, but the only way that’s going to happen is if we pressure the banks to change their ways! That means not going quietly, but making a noise about what they’re getting wrong and why we’re leaving for better places.

So the first thing to do is let your bank know you’re leaving and why. We’ve created a tool on our website which makes this easy for you, allowing you to email your bank directly, pledging to leave if they don’t take action on divesting from fossil fuels, and allowing you to air your grievances whatever they may be.

The letter is completely customisable so you can add other motivations for leaving too if you want to. It’s all about letting the banks know what they’re getting wrong and pressuring them to change, so write to your bank and tell them you’re leaving right now!

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2) Choose Your Account 

Current accounts

Moving your current account is now easier and simpler than ever before. Since September 2013 the 7-day Current Account Switching Service has automated the process, meaning no more hassle, missed bills or lost payments.

Offered by a large number of banks and building societies, the service means that the institution you are moving to will handle all aspects of your switch. They’ll move over any money left in your old account, transfer your Direct Debits, and switch over any standing orders or bill payments connected to your old account too.

Crucially, for the first 13 months your new bank or building society also guarantees that any payments made to or from the old account will be forwarded to your new account, and any late or missed payment fees will be refunded (including interest) – so your switch won’t cost you a penny either. They’ll also close your old account for you. Simple! All you need to do is set a date for them to switch your account, and they’ll guarantee to have it done within seven days.

For more information and to see what banks and building societies are signed up to the Current Account Switching Service, see the Payment Council’s excellent website  www.simplerworld.co.uk

You can also look out for this sign on our website’s Good Money pages, which gives you an overview of the best places to move your money to:

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For the best banks, building societies and other options for your money, you can see our Good Money pages here, and your fossil free banking options here.

To see the full list of banks and building societies rated in our scorecard, click here.

But what if I’m in my overdraft?

Unfortunately having an outstanding overdraft will make it a bit more tricky to switch – but you still can switch current accounts even if you’re overdrawn. Your new bank will probably credit check you, and some will offer you a matching overdraft while others won’t, depending on your personal circumstances.

There’s some useful information about how to cut down your overdraft to size on the Money Saving Expert website. In the mean time, why not open an account with a positive and ethical provider, and manage the switch yourself at your own pace? Even £10 with a better provider will have a positive impact on the world, and will make it easier for you to transfer to your new Good Money home yourself.

What about regular payments applied to my debit card?

The switch guarantee covers standing orders, Direct Debits, and regular payments that are attached to your current account. However, some retailers set up regular payments to your debit card, rather than directly to the account. In some circumstances these payments can be missed in the switch, so make sure you transfer over any regular card payments manually yourself before the 7 days are up.

Savings accounts and Investments

Savings accounts are different to current accounts, and there is a much broader range of account types. There is no switching service for regular savings accounts like there are current accounts, though ISA savings accounts do have a similar transfer service that is handled independently by the new provider.

Online savings accounts are the easiest and quickest accounts to open, though you’ll still need to returned signed paperwork. Opening one of these savings account shouldn’t take more than half an hour if you work quickly. You will have to have a nominal minimum amount, often £10 to £25, to open the account. Make sure you understand the account’s conditions, in particular the withdrawal notice period, which may differ depending on the amount of interest offered. Generally speaking, the more accessible your savings are, the less interest you’ll be offered to save with.

If you have any regular payments set up to or from your existing savings account you’ll have to transfer those payments over yourself. As a result, its worth leaving enough money in your old account for any payments that might go through before you’ve switched. Then once your first regular payment has been made from your new account, it should be fine to close the old account and transfer the last of your remaining balance.

Investment options are even more complicated, and are often more likely to tie you in, or penalise you for leaving. Make sure you know the terms of your investments, and if you have any questions speak to an Independent Financial Advisor.

Move Your Money has profiled some ethical crowdfunding platforms on our Good Money pages who only offer investment products, unlike the banks and building societies that generally offer other account types too.

You can also use the Ethical Investment Association to find advice on how to use your investments to make positive social change in the world, at the same time as getting a good return. You can find their website here: http://ethicalinvestment.org.uk/

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3) Pressure your old bank to change

Don’t forget, transferring to a new provider is only half of the challenge. If we want all banks, building societies and other providers to act in our interests, then we need to make a noise about what we want and why we want it.

Once you’ve opened an account with your new bank, if you want your action to have an even bigger effect, make sure to tell your old bank you’ve moved, and why. Please do mention us if we helped with your decision on where or how to move your money!

If the bad banks know they’re losing customers for a reason, it’s in their interest to do something positive about it. And who knows, we might even be able to fix the mess the banks have got themselves into.

Remember, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

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4) Get Involved!

Spread the news about you switch and encourage others to follow your lead. Tell your friends and family you’ve moved, and like and share us on social media

If you want to help spread the word even further, why not become a case study for Move Your Money? Putting your voice at the front of our campaign is what we’re all about, so get in touch and tell it like it is!

All it takes is a few simple questions about your switch, a quote on why you moved your money (or put your bank on notice), and a hi res photo that we can use on social media (although the last bit is optional). Just drop us an email at fionn@moveyourmoney.org.uk

We’re also planning some big actions in February 2015, where we’ll be taking our message directly to the banks. We’ll be throwing bank Divestment Parties in prominent branches across the UK, protesting about bank investment in fossil fuels and climate change, and celebrating the successes of the divestment movement. Come along, it’s gonna be a blast!

Our events will be running as part of the Global Divestment Day movement, which is a global movement of activists, campaigners and people fighting for an end to fossil fuels and climate change. Our events are listed on the Global Divestment Day UK website, so join an event near you today! And if you’d like to make a new event in your own city, just drop us a line at fionn@moveyourmoney.org.uk

And finally, we’re always happy to hear from our supporters with any questions, comments or offers of volunteering. Get in touch! We’re a friendly bunch.

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Useful Links

Move Your Money
Simpler World – Switching Service
Global Divestment Day, UK
Ethical Investment Association
Money Advice Service
Money Saving Expert
350.org

You can download this guide here.

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