Banks and Building Society Websites
Our Secret Shopper takes a look at the websites for the main banks and building societies.
Our bank shopper looks at how long it took them to find a page that summarises the interest rates that the bank or building society has on offer. To find the interest rates our shopper would first of all use any 'quick search' options that were available and if this failed, they would try to naviagate around the site looking for interest rates.
A comparison of interest rates and length of time to find the information on banks/building societies websites.
|Bank or Building Society||Time to Find Interest Rates*||Search Method / Notes on Bank Website||Bank Rating (1-5)|
|HSBC||4||Scrolling through home page and then using quicksearch||4|
|Natwest||2||Quickly searching the home page and using quicksearch||4|
|Lloyds TSB||4||There was no quicksearch button so chose rates and Charges option||3|
|Barclays||5||No quicksearch and no one page that all their rates can be accessed from||1|
|Nationwide||2||using the quicksearch key||3|
|Halifax||5+||No quicksearch and no one page that all their rates can be accessed from||1|
|Alliance & Leicester||5+||No quicksearch and no one page to find their rates||2|
|RBS||1-2||using their search box||4|
|Smile||1-2||clicking on "rates" button on homepage||4|
|Cahoot||1-2||using quicksearch key||5|
*Note that it may well be possible to find these interest rates quicker than this, however this survey is intended to reflect how the average bank shopper would search a site
** Scoring based on time to find interest rates and overall look and feel of site
HSBC Bank Website
Once I typed in "interest rates" into the quicksearch field of the site, 131 option pages came up with their interest rates, different ones relating to different areas, i.e. mortgages, savings, equity release, pensions etc. Their homepage was good and easy to read, offering information on their online saving account, business banking, travel money, and best rates. View Rates
Natwest Bank Website
As with HSBC, using the quicksearch field was the way to bring up interest rates. This then brought up a choice of 22pages relating to different types of interest rates i.e. Business borrow, Personal borrow etc. Their homepage was also good and easy to read advertising a "GBP1000 challenge" that they are currently running and also their mortgages. Further down there were quickstep searches for different questions regarding Day to day, Save and invest, Borrow and Insure. Use Natwest Bank Search Page
Lloyds TSB Website
A very busy site, with loads of information all on the home page. I found this a bit difficult to read as there was too much information and consequently it took me a while to find what I was looking for. After selecting the "rates and charges" option the page comes up with an "interest rate hotline" number to call if you want. They also had all of their products listed from which you selected the rates choice to find their current interest rate for the relevant account. View Bank Interest Rates and Charges
The worst internet bank site so far! A very busy site as with the Lloyds one, with a lot of information on their home page. There was no quicksearch button, so after a bit of searching I managed to find the information, in a very long winded way, by searching on their "Got a life-sized question?" option. A drop-down button gives you the option on what to ask them about i.e. guide to savings, buying a home etc, and once you have selected one of these, another screen gives you a highlight for interest rates, which when selected takes you to another screen!! This is one of those sites that after a while I would just give up on because it is too hard to get the information I need! http://www.barclays.co.uk
Nationwide Building Society
The homepage for this site contained a lot of information as with Lloyds and Barclays, however their quicksearch button was right at the top which I used straight away. I was pleasantly surprised with the way the site was then laid out. It came up with a series of 69 questions starting with "What are your interest rates?" which when selected took me to a page giving their different products and a link into each one's interest rates. Overall a very good site for obtaining this information.
Another really difficult site to get easy information on their interest rates. They had a quick finder box, but only with pre-written options so I couldn't freetext my request in there. I could access their interest rates was to go individually into the tabs for savings, mortgages, loans etc, and then selecting again another option showing their rates. Alternatively if you look scroll down a long way on the quick finder you can EVENTUALLY find a page that links to all of the account interest rates.
For mortgages I had to navigate through 3 or 4 several pages before I could see any indication of rates! Another site I would easily give up on because it was not easy to use.
Alliance and Leicester Bank
Yet another site where I had initially had to select each individual tab to find out the interest rates. The Loans, Mortgages, Savings and Credit Card tabs all took me directly to a page showing their interest rates, so the process wasn't as long winded as some of the other sites.
View Savings Rates
View Current Account Rates
RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)
Very easy site to use. After selecting their "search" field and freetexting interest rates a page came up showing 300 matching queries! However the titles of each were easy enough to find the required information, including past interest rates. On their home page under Personal Finances a 7.9% typical APR for loans was in bold which stood out to me (although not a great rate!). Overall a decent enough site with not too much clutter on their homepage and easy enough to find the information I was looking for.
Smile Online Bank
A slow sight to get into, but otherwise a good website with an option to choose "rates" straight away from the homepage. A dropdown bar then appears which will take you separately into the different products i.e. savings, mortgages etc, from which their rates are shown. View Rates
Cahoot Online Bank
A very easy to use site. Using the quicksearch took me straight into the pages where all of their rates and fees are listed for their products. Their home page is easy to read and also features their rates for savings and loans. Overall, a good site.
View Rates .
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