Why is a mobile phone number a deal breaker for a savings account?

Author: Anna Bowes
12th October 2018

Following the launch of Marcus by Goldman Sachs, with an account which shot straight to the top of the easy access best buy table, there has been a huge amount of interest (excuse the pun) and savers have opened the account in their droves. Including, as I am sure you won’t be surprised to hear, a number of us here at Savings Champion.

Old fashioned telephone

As a whole, we have found it pretty quick and easy to both open and fund. However, we all have mobile phones!

We have had a lot of feedback from those of you who are quite understandably irritated that if you don’t have a mobile phone, you can’t have the account.

It is an unusual requirement - although not unique - and perhaps following feedback from ourselves and the press coverage that this annoying feature has generated, Marcus may amend its requirements – but it may not.

So, for those who are happy to open an account online and want a competitive rate - but don’t want to waste time applying only to fall foul of the requirements halfway through, we have undertaken some research on your behalf and opened a handful of accounts, to check whether they need a mobile number.

And the results are?

As mentioned earlier, the good news is that Marcus is unusual with its requirement for a mobile phone number – the rest of the accounts on our best buy table do not need it.

What they do all need however, is an email address, which is understandable given that much of the future contact will be electronic and most ask for an alternative phone number, in case they need to contact you and are unable to, for some reason, by email.

Some of the accounts require your National Insurance number and some password set-up and memorable information was asked for in the application processes – again, as you would expect. Most of this is pretty standard but Shawbrook Bank asks some unusual questions including;

Surname of your favourite teacher at school and first name of your favourite historical character!

Clearly, they won’t be checking up on this information – it’s not a test - but you will need to remember it if you need to speak to someone in the future.

Now, although I will admit to being a serial savings account opener, so have a lot of experience now, each account took less than 10 mins from start to finish, although I did need to wait for ‘unique identification numbers’ and pin codes etc from some of the providers, which will be coming in the post, before I can log in to look at the account.

What about those who don’t want to open an account online?

Don’t fret, we haven’t forgotten about the more traditional amongst you – so we’ve also reviewed some of the telephone and paper applications.

Firstly, we took a look at accounts that can supposedly be opened on the telephone.

I tried to open the AA Easy Saver, but the chap on the telephone helpdesk made this so difficult and time consuming, that I didn’t persevere.  While AA (which is actually Bank of Ireland UK) does state that you can open and manage this account over the telephone, I would avoid trying to do so, unless you have plenty of time to spare – I was told it would take 45mins to an hour!

Sainsbury’s Bank and Virgin Money on the other hand each offered a friendly, simple and quick process.

The Sainsbury’s Defined Access account was opened within 20 minutes, although I can’t fund it until I receive some more information in the post. Once opened, while it is primarily an online account, you can also call up and request withdrawals.

The Virgin Easy Access Saver was open and ready to be funded within 15 minutes. This is a postal or store account, so any withdrawals need to be in writing or in person.

When it came to postal accounts, the application forms that we reviewed seem straightforward, although sometimes some unnecessary questions are asked. Virgin Money’s postal application wants details of your employer – as I wasn’t asked this over the telephone, I can only assume it is not really required.

So, further to this little bit of research, it would appear that there is something for everyone, although the online-only accounts are currently offering the very best rates. Each application form is slightly different, but most don’t require a mobile number. Have to hand your National Insurance Number, the date you moved into your property and your bank account details and you shouldn’t have too much trouble opening most accounts.

Of course, your experiences are always valuable too – so either submit a review, or email us to tell who is good or bad. It would be great to help the providers improve their customer service as well as their rates.


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