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Smile BankSmile Bank
First Direct BankFirst Direct Bank
First Direct BankingFirst Direct Banking
First Direct Internet BankingFirst Direct Internet Banking

First Direct Banking

As a subsidiary of HSBC, and created to be a fully fledged service, First Direct banking (as is also the case with Smile from the Co-operative) offers the full range of banking services, not just the groovy new products some other internet ventures offer. So, you get a full current account, with up to 2% interest (Smile offers 3%, but 2% is still up to 20 times more than a high street bank can offer) and a healthy £500 guaranteed overdraft. There are three further savings accounts which give you different rates of interest (all higher than average) in exchange for sacrificing different levels of access to your account.
There is a choice of three credit cards; well- you'll actually get allocated one according to status; but whilst the rates are middling (better than Barclaycard, not as good as Egg) nice touches include six months interest free on balance transfers and free balance updates by text message to your phone- not that you'd want a nice night out spoiled by knowing how poor you are!

Additional services include personal loans (average rates), motor, home, life and travel insurances, and some very competitive mortgages including an offset mortgage where the interest in your savings account can be used to offset interest payments on your home loan.

Where First Direct banking scores very highly against its online competitors is in developing investment tools. "Capital Investment" is an independent advice scheme, and "smartinvest" is First Direct's own expert-managed investment fund; you should however always seek advice before using investment vehicles.