NatWest, or to give it its full name, National Westminster Bank, is a UK high-street bank that established itself in the sixteenth century following the merger of National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank. Today, it has over 7.5 million personal banking customers and 960 branches throughout the UK.
NatWest is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS Group) along with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Ulster Bank. In 2016, as part of a structural change, it formed a new holding company, NatWest Holdings, to ring-fence The RBS Group’s domestic operations from its wholesale and investment banking activities. As a result, NatWest is now a subsidiary of NatWest Holdings, which The RBS Group owns.
What is ring-fencing?Ring-fencing is a way for a company to keep money separate from its main finances and assets. In the case of NatWest, it means its wholesale and investment banking division can’t touch any money held in its domestic operations, essentially adding an extra layer of protection to your money.
History of NatWest
- 1970 - NatWest begins trading following the merger of National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank in 1968.
- 1972 - As part of the Joint Credit Card Company, founded by NatWest, Lloyds Bank, Midland Bank, and Williams & Glyn’s Bank, it launches the Access Credit Card, which is today known as MasterCard.
- 1980 - NatWest builds the National Westminster Tower in London to serve as its headquarters. It was the tallest building in the UK until the development of Canary Wharf ten years later.
- 1983 - The bank launches its famous Piggy Account for children.
- 1988 - The same banks that launched the Access Credit Card, except for Lloyds Bank, introduce the Switch Debit Card, later rebranded as Maestro.
- 1993 - A Provisional IRA bomb devastates NatWest Tower. The bank vacates the building and later sells it. NatWest headquarters are now located in East London.
- 1997 - The bank reveals that it has discovered a £90.5m loss.
- 1999 - The bank merges with Legal & General. The first merger between a bank and an insurance company in UK history.
- 1999 - The Bank of Scotland attempts a takeover of NatWest. However, RBS attempts its own takeover, setting off one of the largest hostile takeover battles in UK history. RBS is named the winner with a £21bn bid, the biggest takeover in UK history, making The RBS Group the second-largest bank in the UK and Europe.
NatWest in the news
NatWest has been involved in a few headlines over the years; some good and some not-so-good. From launching award-winning services to being at the forefront of a few scandals, let’s look at some historical moments in NatWest news.
- 2006 - The bank takes part in the first trial of contactless debit and credit cards in Europe.
- 2009 - NatWest announces a large reduction in its overdraft fees.
- 2012 - The RBS Group experiences a major computer malfunction which results in its customer’s account balances not updating correctly. This causes delays in some new home purchases, failed direct debits, and even causes some of its customers’ to be left stranded abroad.
- 2016 - NatWest announces plans to close 32 branches and axe 1800 jobs.
- 2017 - The Guardian newspaper reports that NatWest and 17 other banks had helped launder KGB-related funds. NatWest had processed $1.1m in cash.
- 2017 - NatWest is awarded Best Banking App at the British Bank Awards, and again in 2018. It later loses out on the award in 2019 when it is awarded to Monzo.
PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) was sold by banks and other companies when a customer took out a lending product such as a credit card or loan.
NatWest PPI was sold to customers to protect them from falling behind on their monthly payments, in return for a monthly fee. The PPI would kick in and make a full or partial monthly payment towards a customer’s financial product if they could no longer keep up with repayments because of unemployment due to illness or redundancy.
The Financial Ombudsman Service and companies who sold PPI products began to receive complaints from customers claiming that PPI policies had been mis-sold to them. Customers complained about:
- Not being properly informed about having a PPI policy.
- Not wanting PPI.
- Feeling pressured or swayed into taking out PPI.
- Being advised to take out an unsuitable policy.
- Being sold Halifax PPI when they were self-employed.
- Not being fully informed of the policy details.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) stepped in and ruled that customers should be entitled to compensation if their PPI policy wasn’t made clear at the point of sale or if it was sold unfairly.
Over £36bn in PPI refunds have been paid out since claims were opened.
How to contact NatWest about a PPI claim?If you took out NatWest PPI and think you may be entitled to a refund, then take a look at our PPI guide for some further information (coming soon).
With over 960 branches available throughout the UK, it is easy to find a branch to discuss an existing account or open a new one.
NatWest near me
If you need to visit a branch, you can use the NatWest branch locator to find your nearest one. You can filter your search depending on the service you are looking for and also use it to find your nearest NatWest ATM.
If you don’t live near a NatWest branch, then you can use your nearest Post Office to check your balance, pay in cash or cheques, or withdraw money from your account.
If you live in a rural area of the country that does not have a local NatWest branch, then there may be a Mobile Branch available.
What is a Mobile Branch?A mobile branch services rural areas of the country. They visit up to six times a week throughout the year and can be used to withdraw and pay in cash, deposit cheques, and discuss your account.
Community bankers are also available to meet you at your home or somewhere convenient for you. They can assist you with general banking advice and discuss products and services with you.
With the rise in digital services, such as internet banking, mobile banking, and telephone banking, many high-street branches have been forced to close over the years.
NatWest has closed more high-street branches than any other UK bank. As of 2018, it had closed 638 branches, with Scotland being the worst affected, followed by South East and North West England.
Although many services can still be accessed using digital banking or ATMs, branch closures have alienated those who are not tech-savvy. NatWest attempted to address this issue by making some of its services available in Post Office branches and providing mobile branches. However, many customers have complained that these alternatives do not offer the same range of services or convenience as a physical branch.
NatWest opening hours vary from branch to branch. Those in city centres tend to be open 9am-5pm Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. However, you should use the NatWest branch locator to check the opening hours for your nearest branch.
If you need to access your account outside of normal branch opening hours, then access to NatWest’s digital banking services is available 24/7.
Find the best contact number for NatWest customer service (Coming soon)
NatWest accounts and features
With 7.5 million personal customers and 850,000 small business customers, it’s no surprise that NatWest has a wide variety of accounts.
NatWest Personal Banking
NatWest has a good selection of personal banking products available to UK residents. It also offers credit cards, loans, mortgages, and savings accounts, and has additional products available to students and graduates.
A Select account is a basic current account. It has a range of features with no monthly fee. Features of a Select account include:
- Contactless Visa Debit card.
- Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Internet, telephone, and mobile banking.
- Optional overdraft for eligible customers.
A NatWest Reward Account is a current account that rewards its customers when they spend at certain retailers or pay for their household bills by direct debit. Additional benefits, such as travel insurance, mobile phone insurance, car breakdown cover are also included. Customers pay a monthly fee and need to meet the required eligibility criteria.
There are three Reward Accounts to choose from, all of which require you to pay in a minimum of £1,500 a month to be eligible to apply.
|Rewards and Perks||Reward - £2 monthly fee||Reward Silver - £10 monthly fee||Reward Platinum - £20 monthly fee|
|2% back in Rewards on household bills|
|1% back in Rewards at partner retailers|
|Mobile phone insurance|
|European travel insurance|
|Cinema discount and Tastecard|
|Fee-free card purchases abroad|
|UK car breakdown cover|
|Worldwide travel insurance|
Compare the best bank accountsStill unsure if NatWest is the right bank for you? Then why not compare the best bank accounts to see what other options are available.
If you need a UK bank account but are ineligible for a current account, then NatWest may offer you the option to open a Foundation account.
A Foundation account has many of the same features as the NatWest Select account, including a Visa debit card and access to online banking. However, you will be unable to apply for an overdraft.
If you are looking for a high-end bank account, then the NatWest Premier account is available to customers who meet the following criteria:
- Pay £100k sole or £120k joint income into your NatWest account.
- Have a NatWest mortgage of at least £500k.
- Have at least £100k savings or investments with NatWest.
You will need to be an existing NatWest customer to upgrade to premium banking. In return you will receive:
- Worldwide family travel insurance.
- International airport lounge access.
- 24/7 Concierge service.
- UK and Europe car breakdown cover.
- 2% back in Rewards.
- A banking manager.
- Financial planning services.
- Financial health checks.
All NatWest customers have the option of opening a joint account. You can do this during the initial application process, or you can change your existing NatWest current account into a joint account via online banking, telephone banking, or by visiting your nearest branch.
NatWest Business Account
Accounts are available to businesses of all sizes, including start-ups. NatWest has a range of bank accounts, as well as tools and benefits exclusive to business customers.
Learn more about NatWest business banking.(Coming soon)
Switch to Natwest
To open an account with NatWest, you will need to complete an application form. You can apply online or by visiting your nearest branch.
Who can open an account?
Every NatWest account has a set of eligibility criteria that you will need to meet to be successful with your application. For most accounts you will need to be:
- Over 18 years old; and
- A UK resident
If you are under the age of eighteen, then the NatWest children’s account is available for 11-18-year-olds.
It’s worth noting that NatWest may carry out a credit check as part of your application, especially if you are applying for an overdraft or credit card. It may offer you its Foundation account as an alternative to the account you are applying for. You can’t apply for this account directly, and it will only offer it to you if you are ineligible for any of its other accounts.
How to open an account
You can open an account online or at a NatWest branch.
Before applying for an account, make sure you check the eligibility criteria.
If you believe you are eligible for an account and want to apply, you will need to provide:
- Your personal details.
- Your home address over the last three years.
- Details of any current overdrafts you have
NatWest usually lets you know straight away if your application has been successful or not, or it may ask you for some further information, such as proof of ID. NatWest will let you know what additional information it needs and how to provide it.
Open a NatWest bank account todayApply now
Current Account Switch Service
If you want to move your existing account from another bank or building society over to NatWest, then you can use the Current Account Switch Service.
What is the Current Account Switch Service?The Current Account Switch Service is a free service that enables you to switch your current account from one bank to another. The service takes seven days, and it moves all of your incoming and outgoing payments and current balance over to your new account for you.
You will need to let NatWest know that you want to use the Current Account Switch Guarantee service during or after your application. It will take care of getting everything switched over for you and even close your old account for you.
NatWest will transfer the following from your old account to your new account:
- Your existing balance.
- Your incoming payments, such as your salary.
- Your outgoing payments, such as your direct debits and standing orders.
NatWest often has special offers if you switch to them and sometimes give you a cash bonus just for switching.
If you don’t want your old account closed down then you can request a partial switch. The Current Account Switch Guarantee does not cover a partial switch, and it takes a little longer than seven days to complete. You will also need to move your incoming and outgoing payments to your new account yourself.
Using your NatWest account
As soon as you are up and running with your account, you will be able to access your personal banking, monitor your spending, and send and receive payments.
Every NatWest account comes with a contactless Visa debit card which you can use anywhere in the world that accepts Visa cards to make payments and withdraw cash at ATMs.
NatWest debit and credit cards are compatible with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
NatWest online banking is available to all of its customers and can be used to carry out most of your banking to save you a visit to your branch.
Online banking is available 24/7 and can be used to:
- View your account balance and transactions.
- Send payments in the UK and abroad.
- Set up regular payments.
- View, edit or cancel direct debits and standing orders.
As an alternative to online banking, NatWest also provides telephone banking. Similar to online banking, it is available 24/7 and provides similar services.
Customers with hearing and speech impairments can access telephone banking via Minicom.
Telephone Banking gives you the ability to:
- Hear your balance and recent transactions.
- Set up regular or one-off payments.
- Manage direct debits and standing orders.
- Move money between your accounts.
- Speak to an advisor for further help.
If online banking and telephone banking wasn’t enough, you also have access to the award-winning NatWest app.
Mobile banking has become hugely popular over recent years, and it functions in the same way as internet banking, except you access it via an app on your smartphone.
The NatWest app is available for free on the App Store and Google Play Store and users have rated it 4.5/5.
Checking your balance
You can check your total and available balance 24/7 anywhere in the world. To check your balance visit:
- Online Banking
- Telephone Banking
- The NatWest App
- An ATM
- A NatWest branch
What is the difference between total balance and available balance?Sometimes, when you make a payment, a transaction can be pending while it is being processed, but the amount is unavailable to you to spend. Your total balance is the money in your account plus any pending transactions, your available balance is your total balance minus any pending transactions.
You can use your NatWest account anywhere in the world, thanks to the Visa debit or credit card it issues with its accounts.
When using your card abroad or in a currency other than pound sterling, NatWest applies some fees and you will also need to factor in the exchange rate.
|Fee||Debit cards||Credit Cards|
|Non-Sterling Transaction Fee||2.75%||2.75%|
|Non-Sterling Cash Fee||2% + Non-Sterling Transaction Fee||3% + Non-Sterling Transaction Fee|
NatWest Reward account holders avoid the Non-Sterling Transaction Fee when using their cards abroad. However, the Non-Sterling Cash Fee for withdrawing cash at an ATM still applies.
If you travel abroad frequently, there are other options available which avoid the fees that NatWest and other high street banks charge. Most digital banks have zero fees for using your card abroad, and some even give you the ability to have multiple accounts with them in different currencies for no extra cost.
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