Changing bank accounts

I am one of Ulster Bank’s 1.1 million customers. My wife and I have our household account with them, so we have to move our account at some point. I was going to leave it until the last minute but Brendan Burgess of told me that there will be chaos with people trying to open accounts at the end, so I decided to be proactive. This is my experience in changing bank accounts.

Choosing a new bank

My personal bank is with Bank of Ireland. My wife banks with AIB. Neither of us have loyalty to either bank. We also don’t go hunting for the lowest fees. I haven’t carried cash since Covid 19 outbreak started, I use Apple Pay and the phone app all the time. I am quiet happy to pay a few quid every month to keep them up and running so I don’t need to use an ATM or go to a branch.

The decider was my 13 year old son. While he has a junior account on my Revolut card, I want him to have his own bank account. Bank of Ireland don’t give bank cards to 13 year old’s but AIB do. It was as simple as that.

Setting up a new account

If I was setting up an account in my own name, I could do it online with AIB online. But they said that because my wife is an account holder, I had to go into a branch to open the account. Trying to get times when both my wife and son were available was proving difficult (working for myself, I can always bunk off for a bit!) so they suggested going to the AIB hub in Dundrum Town Centre which is open on Saturday. When in Dundrum one day, I popped in to make the appointment and got one for a month later. I wasn’t in a hurry, so it’s no big deal.

A month later, we all trudge into the hub and started the process. He explained it would all be done on an iPad and got working on opening the account. After a few minutes, he said that he was unable to open the joint account on the iPad and we would have to fill out an application form and go to a proper branch. He was able to open my son’s account though.

Keen to avoid having to go to a branch and my son’s account now open, I logged onto Bank of Ireland’s website. 5 minutes, it was done. My wife got an email to upload her anti-money laundering documents and that was it. A few days later, I got a text with my IBAN and the following day I got another text saying my card and PIN will follow. I got a third text with instructions on how to register the account on the Bank of Ireland app. This took another 5 minutes. For some reason it took my wife longer and she had to get redirected to a customer representative, so there was a period of waiting on hold.

Moving Direct Debits

This is our household account. All the bills get paid from this account. There is 17 different payments in total. Banks offer to switch over direct debits but past experience has shown me that they won’t capture them all and it can take a while for them to get them all done. Working in personal finance, I am well used to forms and I am quite happy to do this myself.

The first thing that struck me is how uncontactable large organisations are. Where a direct debit mandate had to be completed, there is no email address on companies websites to send the mandate to. Our mortgage is with Bank of Ireland and after being on hold for 20 minutes to get an email address, they told me that they don’t accept emailed mandates. I had to send it by post. When I questioned what company doesn’t accept email in 2021, he told me he could take the details over the phone. So that one is done.

If companies don’t want you talking to a real person, why don’t they make it easy to change bank details on their website? For instance, Spotify, Netflix and Energia are all easy to change once I have my new card. Sky and GoMo? Can’t find how to change bank details anywhere.  It looks like more phone calls, choosing a myriad of options and waiting on hold awaits me before this process is over.

No wonder people don’t change bank accounts. It’s too much hassle.


Steven Barrett

15 November 2021