lizetta loves

Modern day banking

The last couple of days I have spent more time than I would’ve liked dealing with banks and financial institutions following an attempt to make a transaction that should’ve been straight forward.

My first bank account was with NatWest, or National Westminster as it was known back then. I had a young savers account and as a reward for building up my savings I received a family of piggy banks. Starting with Woody, I collected other members of the family of five as I reached financial milestones, culminating with the father, Sir Nathaniel, when I had saved £100. I still have this collection of pigs in storage, but often see them for sale at car boot sales and vintage fairs. I’m showing my age just by talking about them but I refuse to admit they count as vintage.

In my teens I moved to Lloyds Bank, the only bank with a branch in my home village, and have been with them ever since. I rarely use the account these days but I keep the account for a number of reasons – loyalty, concerns that the challenger banks may not stay the course, and because as part of my account I get a free gift, which this year is an annual subscription to Disney+.

I started using Monzo in around 2016 as a way to avoid fees when travelling. I remember on my trip to New York that year encountering a few issues due to the way their payment processes didn’t align with some odd ways of making payments in the States. Fortunately they were always quick to respond and deal with the issues, and being able to contact them via an app made it much easier to get on with my adventures at the same time. The same can’t be said for when Lloyds blocked my card when I was travelling a number of years before for fears it was fraudulent, not helpful.

I found Monzo great for budgeting, transferring small amounts to the account for ‘spending money’ so I could almost treat it like having cash in my wallet. As someone who in the past has had to be bailed out of financial situations, being able to immediately see every purchase on the app helped me keep on top of things. Whilst at one time in my life I ignored my finances, I became one of those people that was a little too on top of them. I guess I just never wanted to get into that sort of debt again.

As Monzo’s popularity grew, their offering developed, and new useful features were added I found myself using it as my main account. Pots helped me save for certain things and categorising transactions helped me better understand how much I spent down the pub, on groceries or random shopping that I probably didn’t need. I was such a fan, I even opted to become a shareholder a few years ago – though based on their recent shareholder update, it doesn’t look like I’m going to get rich as a result any time soon.

Sadly my positive relationship with Monzo came to an end last year after a series of fraudulent issues which they did not deal with well. I may have received some small financial credits in response to complaints, but sadly I realised it was time to move on.

I’m now a (mostly) happy Starling customer. I’ve also started using Plum to build up some savings, without even really noticing the money has gone from my account. Both companies I would generally recommend if you want to get a better grasp on your finances, help save and get positive customer service without having to pick up the phone and wait on hold.

But oh how I wish these banks would work better together!! Surely in this day and age with technology able to do so much, things should be easier. Things should be more secure, bank fraud appears to be on the rise. Whilst I appreciate measures being in place to protect my money, I wish I didn’t feel like I was made to guilty of something or had to be mothered as if I didn’t know how to make a secure transaction. There must be a better way.

It almost makes me long for the old days where payments were made using chequebooks, you knew your bank manager and we were used to the fact things didn’t happen immediately. Perhaps like lots of other things, modern day banking has become frustrating because we expect everything to be easy and immediate.

I’m pleased to report that while I’ve been writing this my issues have been resolved and the transactions completed. It’s just a shame it took numerous conversations with different people to get to this point.

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