First Direct Feedback


I am currently interested in switching from my Halifax Reward Account to First Direct and adding the First Directory pack to the account at £15. Currently, I pay £17 for the Halifax account and get mobile, travel insurance and breakdown cover.

I believe the First Directory pack adds the same but for £2 cheaper. I currently have a £300 interest-free overdraft on the Halifax account but the FD account will give me £500 with the first £250 interest-free. I would get the switch fee also for moving to FD.

I was wondering what everyone’s opinion on First Direct and their app are? I know they are well known for their customer service but I’d be keen to hear feedback on their app and other experiences. Is it true that the FD app doesn’t show pending transactions for a bit?

I am someone who at the moment would be in their overdraft a lot but a buffer would be nice so that I have to say 12 pm to pay in to avoid charges if I ever go beyond the agreed overdraft. Something I get with Halifax, do FD offer that?

If anyone has had any of these accounts or has any advice for me I’d be very grateful! Should I stay with Halifax or make the switch?

Have you considered a Nationwide Flexplus account? £13 a month for worldwide travel, mobile phone and breakdown cover. Plus, if you can find a friend who is already a Nationwide customer, a free £100 for switching for both of you.


The Nationwide account is better value than any other packaged account currently available.

As for FD, their Customer Service is great but I personally find the app and online banking appalling!


Tbf as an ex FD customer and a current Nationwide customer, Nationwide’s website is also awful though the app is ok. Their package is good though, I’ve used the car cover twice.

I had a First Direct account around 2 years ago and didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I’d rate them about 3 out of 10 which is on a par with all the other legacy banks.

Their app was unusable to me due to “over-security” and their website was clunky, so a bad user experience. They will also direct you to a HSBC branch if you need to do anything and that is a grim prospect. (I went to a completely dead branch to pay in a cheque, not a single customer there and the staff member waiting to serve with apparently nothing else to do said “yeah that’s not for me, you need to use the machines…” :confused:

The thing that people rave about is the customer service over the phone, but as someone who worked in the service industry I knew they had just rounded up some poor hostages in darkest Wales and forced them to be all smiles and rainbows with their manager listening in to tell them where they went wrong. I can see how some people would feel a connection by being asked what they’re up to this weekend or if they have any holidays planned when they call to switch banks, but personally I felt weirded out and felt they should mind their own business.

Their cash bribes are big but I wouldn’t do it again. I had to listen to legal shpeel over the phone for the best part of an hour, saying “yes”, “yes”, “uh huh” until blue in the face and once you’ve switched your banking relationship to them you need to maintain it for a long time to qualify for full bribes.

They are still a very small bank and they have small processes. When I told them I needed them to offer a similar level of overdraft to my Halifax account if I was to really switch banks (£2000 Halifax vs £500 FD) they actually put you through to the underwriter who said my income was too low to justify that level or overdraft. When I asked why it’s not too low for every other bank he smugly said First Direct aren’t like other banks and they have very strict criteria. He then starts looking through every payment on my account and kicked off about a payment received with the reference “ repayment” which was a personal joke with a friend I’d lent £50 instead of letting him take out a payday loan. He couldn’t understand what this was all about and wouldn’t increase the overdraft at all.

In the end they terminated my account after I was made redundant and within 2 months of this they sent a letter saying that they’d decided to close my account and they wanted their overdraft back immediately as i’d not been paying a regular income into the account.

Not what I’d call fantastic service at all.


Also, aren’t FD just a division of HSBC?

Then again, isn’t that famous British High Street bank TSB, just a subsidiary of the fifth largest bank in España? This morning I received a rather ridiculous letter from TSB containing some fawning ridiculous apology relating to the debacle last year when I was still a customer of theirs. I didn’t lose any money, just my temper at the bungled IT upgrade. Switching away cured my temper.

I’ve often thought of switching one of my ‘spare’ accounts to FD, but I just couldn’t get away from the fact it was still, like M&S Bank, effectively a division of HSBC. I used to be a customer of M&S Bank, their online App was just pitiful in my opinion.

I just switched from First Direct to Monzo.

Meh, I didn’t mind them. They were always quick and easy to deal with on the phone. The app was another issue. It was poor for a long time and it a little better now but is over secure. One wipe of my iPhone and you have to ring them up to reactivate the security key. I pretty much didn’t for 6 months and switched.

Probably wouldn’t go back because they don’t offer anything you cant get elsewhere without a telephone. I only kept it so long because of the chance I would get one of their mortgages as they are okay rates usually.


Thanks so much everyone for the feedback! It’s really good to hear people’s experiences and feedback about the account. Definitely steering me towards staying with Halifax or looking at the nationwide account!

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First Direct phone customer service is fast and pretty good. Their website is not great, their app ok. They use one of those pin generation physical devices, but it is specific to the person, so if you loose it, or need to do something at work, you can’t borrow someone elses and put your card in and generate a code, which is really annoying. They have a 5% £300 p/m regular saver, but if you make a withdrawal you loose the interest. I still have an account open for that, but my salary now goes into Monzo.

I much preferred Nationwide. Their website wasn’t amazing but was fine, their 5% £250 p/m saver didn’t penalise you for withdrawals. And they are less questionable eithically than HSBC, who own First Direct:

I moved from Halifax to Nationwide last month. The interest I was gaining on the Halifax account was non-existent and their packaged account was just too expensive to justify.

They pay 3% on the FlexPlus account, up to £2500 and then I’ve opened a Regular 5% saver, which you can pay £250 into each month.

I was paying £12/month alone for mobile phone insurance, so more than happy for the extra £1 to go towards breakdown and travel.

The Nationwide app is good, and works well. The website works well, and is fully functional, but does look like something from 2005. And, if you don’t like card readers, stay away!

Plus, if you need someone for the £100-refer-a-friend switch bonus, I’m sure someone can help out!


To be fair, it’s actually really quite easy to not involve oneself with the faff of the card reader too frequently. I think I’ve actually only needed to use it twice in the last year to set up new payments. I don’t really buy into Nationwide’s argument that it is an ‘additional layer of security’, it’s just a right royal PITA to be honest and I’d like to see the card reader dispensed with. But, they are still a legacy bank/building society and it’ll probably be years before they come up with something else. They really should concentrate a lot more on their mobile App, push notifications for spending, freeze/unfreeze card etc.


They are improving the app slowly. Pending payments are now shown (separately, but they are there).

I agree. The App is better than it used to be that’s for sure, but clearly some banks developers are better than others at designing and tweaking a mobile bank app than some others. I mostly use the Nationwide mobile app, rarely the web portal. I know some think the mobile app isn’t that good, but to be honest, it isn’t actually that bad either, just needs bringing up to 2019 standards.

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Happy First Direct customer here. My wife and I have had a joint account with them for about 6 years and 3 years ago we signed up for First Directory to get breakdown cover, phone insurance, etc. Both of us being covered means the £15 a month is pretty good value.

Their app isn’t up to much and they don’t really add much value over other legacy banks other than a good customer service experience - whenever we’ve had cause to call (which hasn’t really been often at all) the experience has been great, especially when my wife’s card was cloned a while back. The same cannot be said for Santander and RBS who we banked with previously.

For me legacy banks (and to an extent challenger banks when compared to each other) are all much of a muchness unless you really value a specific service/feature. I really value customer service and First Direct haven’t disappointed on that front.