Royal Bank of Scotland, or RBS as it is commonly referred to, is a UK bank that forms part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. It has amassed over 18 million customers and provides a range of current accounts, savings accounts and lending products for personal banking and business banking.

About RBS

RBS was established in 1727 as The Royal Bank of Scotland, an alternative to the “Old Bank”, the Bank of Scotland

It is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS Group) along with NatWest and Ulster Bank. In 2016, as part of a structural change, a new holding company, NatWest Holdings, was formed to ring-fence The Royal Bank of Scotland’s domestic operations from its wholesale and investment banking activities. As a result, RBS is now part of NatWest Holdings, which is owned by the RBS Group.

Is the Royal Bank of Scotland the same as the Bank of Scotland?No, they are two separate banks. Bank of Scotland belongs to Lloyds Banking Group, whose subsidiaries also include Lloyds Bank and Halifax.

The history of The Royal Bank of Scotland

A happy woman lay on top of a pile of money
  • 1727 - The British government approves the establishment of The Royal Bank of Scotland, leading to fierce competition with the Bank of Scotland which was established just 32 years earlier.
  • 1728 - The bank invents the overdraft, an innovation in banking.
  • 1751 - After years of ‘banking wars’ between the two banks, centred on refusing to accept each others’ banknotes, both The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Bank of Scotland call a truce.
  • 1783 - The bank opens its first branch outside of Edinburgh.
  • 1821 - The bank moves its head office to St. Andrew Square in the New Town of Edinburgh.
  • 1910 - The Royal Bank of Scotland reaches 158 branches and 900 staff after spending most of the nineteenth-century merging with other Scottish banks.
  • 1946 - The bank began operating Mobile Branches, which were converted vans to serve rural areas. Mobile branches are still in operation today.
  • 1969 - The bank merges with the National Commercial Bank of Scotland, making it the largest clearing bank in Scotland resulting in a new holding company, National and Commercial Banking Group Ltd.
  • 1979 - National and Commercial Banking Group Ltd changes its name to the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
  • 1979 - Lloyds Bank fails in a takeover of the RBS Group.
  • 1997 - Royal Bank of Scotland forms a joint venture with Tesco to create Tesco Bank.
  • 1999 - The Bank of Scotland attempts to takeover Natwest. The Royal Bank of Scotland tables a counter-offer which sets off one of the largest hostile takeover battles in UK history. RBS is subsequently named the winner, making the RBS Group the second-largest banking group in the UK after HSBC Holdings.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS, Royal Bank of Scotland.Although it started life as The Royal Bank of Scotland, in 2003, the bank started using the initials RBS, instead. In 2016, it announced that the bank would use its full name for business in Scotland with the omission of “The” - Bank of Scotland.

RBS in the news

It is not uncommon for banks to hit the headlines, with the bad press often out-weighing the good. RBS and its parent company, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group has had its fair share of news stories that have put it in the spotlight.

  • 2010 - RBS staff receive nearly £1b in bonuses just two years after the bank had received a government-funded bank rescue package, and the bank had reported losses of £1.1b. Former RBS CEO was subsequently stripped of his knighthood.
  • 2010 - RBS promises not to close any further bank branches where they were the last in town.
  • 2011 - Royal Bank of Scotland is fined £28.58m for anti-competitive practices with the pricing of its loans for professional services firms.
  • 2011 - The bank prevents its Basic Account holders from using the ATMs of rival banks.
  • 2014 - The bank breaks its earlier promise and closes 44 branches which were the last in town.
  • 2016 - Under a restructure, RBS branches in the UK were closed or rebranded as NatWest, with Natwest becoming the primary customer-facing brand in England and Wales, Royal Bank of Scotland in Scotland, and Ulster Bank in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • 2017 - The Guardian newspaper reports that RBS and other banks had helped launder KGB-related funds. RBS had handled $113.1m in cash.

Share prices

You can’t buy shares directly with RBS, but you can for its parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.

The UK government owned 82% of RBS Group shares as part of its bailout of the bank following the 2009 financial crisis. However, this has decreased to 62.4% as the British government slowly sells shares back.

The share price for RBS Group has seen turbulent times throughout recent years. Historically, RBS Group stock went from a high of over 6,900 pence per share in early 2007 to around 120 pence in 2009.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

RBS customer service

It is not uncommon for a bank to receive low customer service scores and it is more likely for a customer to review a product or service if they have had a bad experience than if they had a good one.

A man holding a sign with a thumbs up icon on it

However, even with this in mind, RBS reviews are very negative. In fact, its customers rate it just 1.4/5 on Trustpilot, with most of the negative comments being about its customer service. 92% of reviews rate RBS as poor or bad, and just 8% rate it as excellent or good, making it one of the lowest scored banks on Trustpilot.

The Competition and Markets Authority published a review of retail banking, in which RBS ranked joint bottom with Clydesdale bank. As part of the review, it asked customers how likely they were to recommend their bank to others based on several measures, such as customer service.

Customers rate digital banks such as N26, Revolut and Monese much higher, with an average of 4.3/5.

If you need to get hold of RBS customer service, you can reach a customer service agent via:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Post
  • Visiting a branch

Find the best contact information for RBS for new and existing customers (coming soon).

RBS branches

There are around 700 Royal Bank of Scotland branches located mainly in Scotland. However, there are a few RBS branches available in large towns and cities throughout the UK. RBS customers outside of Scotland can visit any NatWest branch to receive counter services for their account.

RBS has closed over 600 branches since 2015. It has blamed this partly on the decision to re-brand RBS branches in the UK as NatWest, which resulted in having two branches operating near each other in some locations. It has also cited the rise in the use of its digital banking services as another cause for branch closures.

Branch locator

You can find your nearest RBS branch using the RBS branch locator. You can also check your balance, withdraw and pay in cash, at Post Office branches and Natwest Banks.

If it isn’t possible for you to visit a branch, you can request an appointment with an RBS Community Banker, who will come to you at your home, work, or another convenient meeting point and can provide you with information and advice about your account.

In more rural areas such as those in Cornwall, Wales, and the Isle of Wight, you can visit an RBS Mobile Branch when they next visit your area. Mobile branches operate five days a week all year round and customers can use them to:

  • Make a cash or cheque deposit.
  • Pay bills.
  • Discuss general account and product enquiries.
  • Opening times

Most RBS branches are open every day except Sundays and public holidays. Opening times vary from branch to branch, but branches often stay open until 5pm in the week and 3pm on a Saturday.

Other RBS services, such as online, telephone, and mobile banking, are available 24/7.

RBS accounts and features

There is a good selection of current accounts, savings accounts, and lending products available with RBS. It also has services available to business customers and a Premier banking service for high-earning customers.

Select Account

A hand holding a selection of bank notes

A Select account is RBS’s basic current account. It comes with a range of standard features with no monthly fee, including:

  • Contactless Visa Debit card.
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • Internet, telephone, and mobile banking.
  • Optional overdraft for eligible customers.

Reward Account

A Reward Account is a current account that gives its customers rewards for spending at certain retailers or paying household bills by direct debit. Plus additional benefits such as travel insurance, mobile phone insurance, car breakdown cover and more, in return for a monthly fee and meeting eligibility criteria.

There are three Reward Accounts available, all of which require you to pay in a minimum of £1,500 a month to be eligible to apply.

Reward - £2 / month Reward Silver - £10 / month Reward Platinum - £20 / month
 Earn 2% in Rewards on 7 types of household bills paid by Direct Debit  Earn 2% in Rewards on 7 types of household bills paid by Direct Debit  Earn 2% in Rewards on 7 types of household bills paid by Direct Debit
 Spend at RBS partner retailers and get 1% back in Rewards  Spend at RBS partner retailers and get 1% back in Rewards  Spend at RBS partner retailers and get 1% back in Rewards
 Insurance for your mobile phone  Insurance for your mobile phone  Comprehensive mobile phone insurance
 Travel insurance  Travel insurance for European trips  Travel insurance for Worldwide trips
 No foreign purchase fee when you use your card abroad  No foreign purchase fee when you use your card abroad  No foreign purchase fee when you use your card abroad
 Up to 40% off the price of cinema tickets  Up to 40% off the price of cinema tickets  Up to 40% off the price of cinema tickets
 Save money on dining out with Tastecard  Save money on dining out with Tastecard  Save money on dining out with Tastecard
 UK car breakdown cover  UK car breakdown cover  UK car breakdown cover
 Discounts on breaks, holidays, car hire and overseas travel  Discounts on breaks, holidays, car hire and overseas travel  Discounts on breaks, holidays, car hire and overseas travel

Compare the best bank accountsStill unsure if RBS is the right bank for you? Then why not compare the best bank accounts to see what other options are available.

How do I exchange RBS Rewards?

Once your RBS Rewards balance reaches at least £5, RBS will give you a choice of what you can do with them. You can bank them, trade them or donate them to one of its chosen charities.

  • Bank it - Convert your Rewards into money by transferring it into your RBS bank account.
  • Trade up - Exchange your Rewards for gift cards.
  • Donate - Convert your Rewards into money and donate it to one of RBS’s chosen charities.

Premier banking

Premier Banking is a high-end service for RBS customers; it has exclusive products for bank accounts, savings, mortgages and investments.

Features include:

  • 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

To qualify for Premier Banking, you need to be a permanent UK resident and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Pay £100k sole or £120k joint income into your RBS account.
  • Have an RBS mortgage of at least £500k.
  • Have at least £100k savings or investments with RBS.

Joint account

Joint accounts are available on RBS Select and Reward accounts. They are available to new and existing customers. If you already have an individual RBS account, you can change it to a joint account in a branch or via online banking.

Savings account

As you would expect with most banks, RBS has a selection of savings products to help you reach your goals.

Instant access savings accounts are available, along with long-term savings products, ISAs, and children’s savings accounts.

Student & Graduate account

An RBS student account is available to people over the age of seventeen who are full-time undergraduate students on at least two-year courses or completing full-time postgraduate or nursing courses lasting a year or more.

Besides getting the same benefits as an RBS Select Account, student account holders can select one of three offers:

  • Tastecard - Get 50% off food or 2 for 1 on meals.
  • Amazon Prime membership.
  • National Express Coachcard - ⅓ off National Express and Scottish CityLink coach fares.

If you are over eighteen, you can also apply for an interest-free overdraft up to £2,000.

Business banking

RBS offers solutions to businesses of all sizes, including start-ups. It has a selection of bank accounts, savings options, and international banking.

RBS business customers get access to FreeAgent, a business accounting software which helps you manage your business finances. The bank arranges Business Growth events throughout the year to help you grow your business, and financial health checks are available for free to discuss your business goals or plan the next steps for your business.

Loans and overdrafts

Two guys holding money

Personal loans are available along with a car, debt consolidation, home improvement, holiday, and wedding loan.

Existing customers can apply for a loan of £1,000-£50,000. You can use the RBS loan calculator to work out the best loan for you, see how likely RBS is to accept you, and if you apply you will normally receive a decision online in minutes.

Joint loans are available along with the option to top up an existing RBS loan.

How to open an account with RBS

To get up and running with an RBS account, you will need to complete an application. You can do this online or by visiting your nearest RBS branch.

Who can open an account?

To open most RBS accounts, you will need to be:

  • Over 18 years old; and
  • A UK resident

If you are under eighteen, then you can apply for an RBS children’s account, which is available to 11-18-year-olds.

RBS may require you to pass a credit check to open an account, especially if you are also wanting to apply for an overdraft or RBS credit card.

If you are ineligible for any RBS bank accounts, then it may offer you a Foundation Account; A basic account to help you manage your money.

What do I need to open an account?

Before applying for an account, check the eligibility criteria for the account you want to apply for.

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.

RBS can usually give you an instant decision on your application. Sometimes, it may need some further information from you, such as proof of ID. RBS will let you know what additional information it may need from you and how to provide it.

Can I open an account online?

Yes. You can open most RBS accounts online by completing an online application. You can also apply for joint accounts online if both account holders are available to enter their details.

Switch to RBS

If you have an account with another bank or Building Society, then you can switch to RBS using the Current Account Switch Guarantee.

What is the Current Account Switch Guarantee?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.

To take advantage of the Current Account Switch Guarantee, you will need to let RBS know that you want to use the service during or after your application. RBS will look after getting everything switched over from your previous bank account and even close your old account for you.

A woan stood next to a piggy bank

RBS 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

RBS often has special offers if you switch to them and sometimes give you a cash bonus for switching your account over to them.

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 RBS account

Once you have opened your RBS account, it is very easy to access your personal banking, monitor your spending, and send and receive payments.

You will receive an RBS contactless Visa debit card with your account, meaning you can use it anywhere in the world that accepts Visa cards to make payments and withdraw cash at ATMs. You can also add your card to Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Online banking

RBS online banking is available 24/7 and gives you the ability to carry out the vast majority of your banking activity without the need to visit a branch or pick up the phone.

RBS online banking is available to individual and business customers 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.

The reviews for RBS online banking aren’t the best. Review Centre users ranked RBS online banking as only 2.7/5.

Telephone banking

If Online Banking isn’t your thing or if you don’t have access to a computer, then RBS also has Telephone Banking available.

Telephone Banking is available 24/7 and is also available to customers with hearing and speech impairments who can contact RBS using Minicom.

It is free to use and 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.
  • The option to speak to an advisor for further help.

Mobile banking

A smartphone lay on its back with the screen facing upwards

Another option for managing your RBS account is the RBS mobile app. Mobile Banking has become hugely popular over recent years thanks to the popularity of smartphones.

The RBS app gives you all the same features and benefits of using online banking, except you can access it wherever you are. It is available to use 24/7 and you can download the app for free from the App Store and Google Play Store where its customers have rated it 4.3 / 5 and 4.4 / 5 respectively.

Checking your balance

If you need to check your balance, then you can do so via any RBS service such as online and telephone banking, and through the RBS app which you can access 24/7 anywhere in the world.

You can also check your balance at ATMs or by visiting your nearest RBS or Natwest branch.

Using your account abroad

All RBS accounts come with a Visa debit or credit card, which means you can use it anywhere in the world that accepts Visa cards.

When using your card abroad or in a currency other than pounds sterling, RBS applies some fees and you will 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

RBS 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 RBS 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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