RCI Bank has become a firm part of the savings landscape since it launched into the UK just shy of seven years ago. So, as RCI Bank approaches its 7th anniversary in the UK, we thought we’d take another look at this popular provider and see how it is currently faring in the UK savings market.
Background Information – who is RCI Bank and where do your savings go when you open an account with them?
RCI Bank is the UK arm of RCI Banque and launched in June 2015. RCI Banque was formed in 1974 as the internal bank of Renault, the car manufacturer and is still privately owned by the Renault group today. The RCI Banque group online savings banks operate in France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Austria, the Netherlands and the UK.
RCI Bank was the first bank owned by a car company, to launch in the UK savings market and its UK offices are located in Hertfordshire.
Until March 2019, the key thing to be aware of with savings accounts from RCI Bank was that the provider was not part of the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS); savers were protected under the French guarantee scheme, the FGDR, up to the value of €100,000.
However, this has now changed as RCI Bank obtained its UK banking licence in March 2019, meaning that money saved with the provider is now covered by the UK FSCS - good news for both new and existing customers of the bank.
Unsurprisingly, as the UK RCI Bank was formed from the internal bank of Renault, when you deposit funds with them, your money will be used for vehicle financing – from commercial vans for UK businesses, to car fleets for rental car companies, to new or used cars for everyday people.
RCI Bank has recently added its RCI Bank E-Volve account*, a 14-day notice account currently paying 1.15% gross variable and all deposits will be used exclusively for financing RCI’s green transport ambition. This basically means the funds raised from this account will go only towards the lending of electric vehicles, financing the installation of electric vehicle chargers for homes and businesses, as well as any future green mobility solutions under development.
This was a natural move for RCI as it is operationally a net zero company and plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. The bank calculates its carbon footprint and compensates for the remaining operational emissions by contributing to and collaborating with a broad range of certified, international climate change projects.
Today’s Savings Market
When it launched in June 2015, RCI Bank offered a highly competitive easy access account, the Freedom Savings account*, which has featured regularly in our best buy table and has been a winner of our Best Easy Access Provider award on a number of occasions.
But RCI has also been a winner of our Simple Savings Award and Best for Existing Customers award several times, as the provider was a key player in reintroducing easy access accounts that pay have no short term bonuses, restricted withdrawals, or issues of the same account - which means they pay the same rate to both new and existing customers.
While accounts that offer several issues of the same account can be fine for those who regularly review their accounts and switch if the rate on the issue they hold doesn’t stay in line with the rest of the market, there are many people who don’t realise that the rate on offer in the ‘shop window’ may not be the rate that they are actually earning. So, it’s important to check and switch if the account you are earning drops to an uncompetitive rate.
Similarly, accounts that allow only a small number of withdrawals each year, or the rate plummets, will not be appropriate for those who need to use their easy access accounts regularly. And those accounts where the rate includes a short term bonus, means that you must be on the ball and move your cash as soon as the bonus ends, as the rate will normally drop to a very low level at that point.
At the time of writing the Freedom Savings account is paying 1.10% so whilst competitive and within the top 5% of best easy access rates, it doesn’t make it into our table at the moment. That said, if it were a table of simple accounts, it would comfortably be one of the top five.
Also available from the provider is a range of fixed rate bonds, which vary in competitiveness at different times, as is often the case with fixed rate accounts. At the moment the
And finally notice accounts. Its 95-day notice account was launched two years ago and while it didn’t quite make it onto the best buy table at the time, the fact that it pays the same rate to new and existing customers, means that compared to the other accounts that were paying the best rates at that time, it has held up and is currently offering the second best three month notice account paying 1.35% AER Gross as opposed to 0.50% and 0.30% which are the current rates of its rival accounts at the time it was launched. This is a good example of when simple savings accounts can really come into their own.
Application Process and Customer Service
All accounts from RCI Bank must all be applied for online, and customers can manage savings through their app, which may not suit those who prefer not to use the internet. However, the application process is straightforward, so there’s no reason not to consider taking the plunge.
Of course, as mentioned earlier, your thoughts and experiences about providers’ customer service are invaluable for us, so please get in touch to share any feedback you have.
A final word...
It is tempting to stick to the well-known and high street brands when it comes to savings accounts, but in doing so, you may be missing out on some of the best rates on the market. RCI bank has been around for almost seven years now and has shown its commitment to the UK market by gaining a UK banking licence and therefore ensuring your funds are protected under the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Providers like RCI Bank UK are aiming to drive competition in the savings market and offer some of the best rates available at the moment. The best strategy is to look at all options and take each provider on its own merits, considering alternative providers to get the best returns for your money. As long as you do your research (or ask us for more information!) and are comfortable with the provider, there is no reason not to consider them.
*This is a sponsored article. We are occasionally paid by some providers if you click through from our Best Buy Tables and open a savings or current account with them. We will never accept a payment that compromises in any way our independent, whole of market approach to providing information on savings products. For clarity we will indicate those companies who remunerate us with an asterisk (*).