Advice for UK Consumers
first direct information
This page contains information on the online bank, firstdirect. We've included a review from one of our team, who's been a loyal firstdirect customer for many years
First Direct has been providing a 24 hour banking service since 1989. With no branches - banking's made simple with 24 telephone banking that never closes, a simple-to-use online Internet service, and a text message service.
First Direct offers current, savings, credit card loan and mortgage accounts, and is one of the UK's most commonly recommended banks.
Review of First Direct's Bank Account
According to their press ads, first direct gets recommended by existing customers every six seconds, and I'm one of those customers. I've been with First Direct more or less since their launch over twenty years ago. At that time, the idea of 'branchless' banking had an appeal - For me, the biggest selling point of First Direct, and the key reason I recommend them, is the fact that they provide easy access to your account, 24 hours a day.
Prior to moving to First Direct, dealing with my daily finances was a hassle - dealing with cheques, and fitting in with my branch's opening hours. The idea of fitting in with standard high-street banking hours fills me with dread, but the option to manage an account online, pick up the phone and get to a human (without the "press hash" nonsense), their text message statements, and the option to communicate with them electronically, happens to suit my lifestyle perfectly.
First Direct offers a full range of financial services as well as their current account, including savings, ISA, mortgage and loan accounts - rather than list all that they do here, it's easier to suggest that you look at www.firstdirect.com to see if they can suit your needs.
Their online Internet banking service does the job really well - the interface is clean and easy-to-use, and you can download your statements in a few different formats, for importing into Excel, or Microsoft Money. Their system also lets you set up electronic payments online... something you previously had to do over the phone, so if you owe anyone money, logon, type in the bank details and pay online.
Text Message Banking
One of the many innovations from First Direct has been their SMS text message service - sending statements and updates to your mobile. You can set up a range of criteria (via their website), and when the event's triggered, it messages your phone. Mine's set to SMS me a free mini-statement every Friday, alert me when I'm paid, when my account falls below an amount, and when a debit over £200 leaves my account.
According to independent research, at the time of writing, first direct has been the most recommended bank in the UK for the past 12 years, and has had the most satisfied customers of any UK bank for the past 12 years.
First Direct on a Mobile Phone
As noted on this page, First Direct has been offering a text message banking service for a while - offering a daily statement and alerts when a preset limit is about to be reached.
In January 2011, First Direct released a free application for the iPhone and iPad. This application allows customers to check their balances, make bill payments, transfer funds and get a list of recent transactions.
The First Direct iPhone and iPad application is a free download available to First Direct customers: iTunes App Store Link
Other services and special offers
firstdirect's range of products and services also includes SmartMortgage (combine savings and loans into one scheme to bring the cost of your mortgage down), loans and savings accounts (with rates higher than that of the High Street banks), a credit card (with SMS updates and no annual fee), ISA accounts and a variety of loans.
For more details of First Direct, or to sign up, go to www.firstdirect.com
International electronic payment details:
The IBAN and BIC codes used for electronic transfers can be found on the top of First Direct bank statements (paper and online). For reference, here is the information taken from our statements.
These details may be subject to change, and you should check your statement or consult First Direct to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information.
Banking and Credit card page