Online banking can save consumers £276 a year

A consumer who refuses to embrace the digital world when it comes to handling their money pays an average of �276 extra a year, the consumer group found. Picture: Rob McDougall
A consumer who refuses to embrace the digital world when it comes to handling their money pays an average of �276 extra a year, the consumer group found. Picture: Rob McDougall
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People who do not want to pay bills online or insist on having paper-only bank statements can be paying hundreds of pounds a year extra, according to a Which? investigation.

A consumer who refuses to embrace the digital world when it comes to handling their money pays an average of £276 extra a year, the consumer group found.

Half of people surveyed by the group said they preferred to keep track of their finances through paper bills – as opposed to going paperless, which saves financial institutions money in printing and distribution costs.

“Deciding whether or not to go online isn’t just about deciding whether you need a physical bill or statement,” said the report, adding that extra costs can be accrued if a householder opts to pay for household utility bills or mobile phone tariffs without a direct debit.

“With some companies also charging up to £60 a year if you don’t want to pay for your broadband by direct debit, you could end up out of pocket here too,” the report said. “In our scenario, a reluctance to embrace the digital world and not using direct debits could potentially be costing you £276 a year.”

Eight in ten of those asked got online bills for their monthly mobile contract, while nearly nine in ten did so for broadband and landline, avoiding charges of up to £2.50 a month.

Utility firms often do not offer customers the option of a paper bill if they are on certain tariffs, many of which offer a better deal than their offline equivalents. However, the report found that if a “paperless” customer needs a copy of a bank statement for identification purposes, six of the 11 banks surveyed – Barclays, Co-operative Bank, Halifax, HSBC, Nationwide and Smile – charge £1 to £5. Royal Bank of Scotland allows customers to request two free paper statements in any 12-month period, while Santander offers free duplicates going back to 2008. Bank of Scotland, First Direct and Lloyds TSB do not charge at all.