There’s no such thing as a free £200 from a bank, says RACHEL RICKARD STRAUS: Take the money, but keep an eye on what they are getting in return

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If a restaurant offered to pay you to sit and eat deliciously, would you do it? Or if an airline said they would give you cash so you could board one of their flights, would you agree?

Whether you like it or not, I’m sure you would ask: what’s the catch? You would suspect why they forked out to get you as a client instead of sending you a bill.

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However, this is exactly what we are currently seeing in large banks. Some of them offer huge cash incentives to anyone who switches their checking account to them. For example, RBS, NatWest and TSB are giving away £200, while First Direct is giving away £175.

But, just ask yourself: what’s in it for them? Banks don’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts. These are profitable companies whose shareholders must be satisfied.

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Cash: You can bet your two hundred pounds that they only offer you wads of cash up front because they think they’ll give it back to you in the future.

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And you can bet your two hundred pounds that they only offer you wads of cash up front, because they think they’ll give it back to you, and then some more later.

It may be that once you become a checking account customer, they will try to sell you other products such as personal loans or credit cards that will bring them profit.

Or they may be hoping that you leave a lump sum in your account where they will pay you low interest.

Or maybe they’re selling you a paid account with nice perks like phone insurance or free entry to airport lounges that you don’t really need.

Best bank accounts for interest, privileges and cashback: Our top choice for those looking for a better deal

Don’t think for a minute that they are doing this to help cash-strapped clients. Over the past two weeks, the big banks have made it clear who they are loyal to, and that’s with shareholders and executive compensation packages, not savers.

According to their financial results, the top six companies increased profits by £7bn last year by raising interest rates for borrowers and not passing on much of the recent rate hike to savers.

If you can find a new bank that better suits your needs than your old one, go for it. And take the money. But just watch what they get in return

Last month, bank bosses appeared before Treasury Select Committee deputies to explain why they failed so miserably to pass the rate hike on to savers.

They apologized sweetly, and then left and continued the same tricks as before. RBS and NatWest pay 0.65%, TSB 0.7%, and First Direct 1.2% on easy access accounts.

I am not for a moment saying that you should not accept their free money offers.

Switching banks keeps them on their toes. As Mark Mullen, chief executive of Atom Bank, told me last week, “Loyalty to your bank is bad for your financial health.”

In a cost-of-living crisis, these cash payments are, of course, very welcome. If you can find a new bank that better suits your needs than your old one, go for it. And take the money. But just watch what they get in return.

No response from Ofcom regarding broadband price increase

Regulator Ofcom has not yet released the results of its investigation into the rise in mid-contract broadband prices.

We believe inflation-inducing price increases in the middle of a contract are highly unfair and should be limited by the regulator.

However, Ofcom has been very busy lately with other urgent matters. Last week, the company held an Antique Phone Show competition on social media.

Twitter followers were asked to share photos of their old mobile phones and tell Ofcom about their “own golden old phones”. The regulator then took the time to compliment them on the dusty old phones found in the back of the drawers.

Broadband and telecommunications providers must be shivering in their boots.

The Email Dilemma

I still remember the exciting day when my family got internet for the first time at home. Setting up an email address was part of the process. Like many families, we didn’t know we could use other email account providers instead.

So I really sympathize with those who have done the same, in good faith, and are now stuck with an email address that ties them to their broadband provider indefinitely.

Yes, I know you can change your email whenever you want. But it’s hard to give up on an archive of social interactions that spans years without worrying that you’ll delete something of value.

Sky allows former customers to store their email addresses for free – why can’t other providers?

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