Banking in Britain


There are lots of banks in England and with the vast number, you’d think you have a “choice”.  However, it turns out that some banks are actually owned by others, so the number is less than it appears.  In addition, what each of these banks offer to make themselves attractive are all really similar, so it doesn’t seem to matter where you bank, you’re getting pretty much the same thing. 

Right now, Lloyds TSB is trying to buy up HBOS (Hallifax Bank of Scotland), which would make it the largest bank in England.  Although this step would make it appear that Lloyds is quite stable, there are no guarantees in the current economic climate.  Nevertheless, we did open an account there.  Which isn’t saying much since we opened it with a zero deposit.  (I don’t think I’ve ever been able to open an account in the US without putting some money into it initially.)  Of course, the account is just sitting there open and we are unable to do anything with it except use a debit card to withdraw money at the bank’s ATM (it cannot be used elsewhere).  They call this a Cash Only Account.  Any withdrawals are unlikely given the balance.

Because of the current recession, the government recently lowered the interest rate.  Although it sounds very good to consumers who are spenders, it is not so good for the savers.  I’m a saver by nature, so the lower interest rate doesn’t do much for me.  In fact, it means I’m getting less interest on my savings.  That’s not good news for me.  The lower interest rate is to encourage spending and get  money circulating; however, given the recent “bust” in the housing market, etc., I’m surprised anyone would want to go out and get a mortgage right now.

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