Customers of M&S Bank are facing major changes, including the closing of their current accounts. Keith Findlay takes a look at what’s happening.
The end of the road for in-store branches of M&S Bank follows the growing trend of retail banking customers using their accounts online or by telephone.
High street giant Marks & Spencer (M&S) started shutting in-shop branches of its banking arm last Friday.
M&S Bank current accounts are due to close at the end of August as the financial sevices business refocuses on products and services, with new payment solutions on the way.
So what does all this mean for customers?
‘Everyone with an M&S current account needs to act fast.’
James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk said: “The closure of the in-store branches might not be a big deal to customers who already manage their accounts online, but those used to in-person services and unwilling or unable to use remote banking could miss out.
“However, everyone with an M&S current account needs to act fast and make sure they either switch or close their account before August 31.
“After this date, your account will be closed completely and you won’t be able to access your money or make any debit or credit transactions.”
Account-holders need to get to net-zero balance
He added: “If you want to close your account, there are certain things to keep in mind. First of all, your account can only be closed with a zero balance, so if your account is overdrawn or in credit, you must deposit or transfer money to get to £0.
“If you’re closing with an overdraft, or transferring that debt to a new account, it’s crucial that you choose a provider with an equal or greater overdraft capacity, otherwise you risk high charges or penalties being applied to your account.
“When the account closes, direct debits and standing orders will also automatically be terminated, so you need to make sure you’re on top of your payments before that happens.”
Money.co.uk is advising M&S Bank current account holders to make a list of all their regular payments, and note down details of the payees. This should help you to easily set up payments from a new account without interruption.
Mr Andrews added: “After August 31 your online statement history will no longer be available, so it might be an idea to print off your recent statements – or download them as PDFs and save them.
“If you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or finance scheme, you’ll need to supply recent bank statements, so make sure you have the documents you need saved, in order to avoid a potential delay.
Increasingly cashless world
“If you aren’t able to do this yourself, you can request M&S Bank to email you a copy of your transaction history free of charge. If this is done after your account is closed, you will need to supply relevant identification.”
As with any transition to an online-only service, the closure of M&S’ in-store bank branches may cause issues for some customers, with vulnerable and older customers potentially struggling with the change.
Money.co.uk’s website has information on the impact of a cashless society, and how the UK compares with other countries as more of the world moves to “bin the banknote”.
We are striving to bring our customers the very best financial products.
Announcing this latest stage of its “transformation” plans earlier this year, M&S Bank said the aim was to “create a digitally enabled and uniquely rewarding shopping and payment experience for M&S customers”.
It added: “This will include a new reward credit card offering and a digital payment solution for M&S’ growing Sparks (loyalty card) customer base.
“The new offering will support M&S’ Never the Same Again transformation programme by enabling easy and rewarding ways to pay when shopping at M&S, for both M&S Bank and M&S Sparks customers, who are among the retailer’s most loyal.”
M&S aims for “more integrated” shopping and payments
The bank said it would continue to offer general insurance, savings and loan products, alongside a “more integrated end-to-end shopping and payment experience”.
Explaining the need for change, it added: “With the acceleration of online shopping, particularly since the start of the pandemic, customers are increasingly choosing to bank online, including mobile, a trend which has been seen since the start of 2019.
“In response to this, M&S Bank will move to online and telephony servicing, enabling customers to access their accounts at a time that suits them.
“As a result of these service changes, and M&S Bank’s focus on evolving its credit card and payment offering for customers, its current account offer and associated 29 in-store branches are set to close from the summer.
“The in-store travel money bureaux, which are located in over 100 stores, are unaffected.”
The bank said: “M&S was an early pioneer in retail financial services, and the rapid transformation in how we spend, borrow, save and protect has never been more exciting.
“We are striving to bring our customers the very best financial products that meet their needs today and in the future.”