Overview: What is RBS?
If you live, work or travel in the UK, you may have come across buildings and ATMs adorned with the acronym “RBS” and asked, “What is RBS?” The purpose of this guide is to answer that specific question (and more!) about RBS.
RBS is the abbreviation for The Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS is a retail bank that has been in operation since 1727 and is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. The bank is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland and operates over 700 physical branches throughout Scotland, England, and Wales.
If you are considering using the financial services at RBS, searching for RBS reviews is an excellent place to begin. However, when you read individual RBS complaints, it is crucial that you keep in mind that each RBS review is written by a person with an individual experience and personal bias. The best way to learn about RBS and get a full picture of its services is to read a comprehensive RBS review.
With this article, we aim to inform you about the services the bank offers, summarize recent RBS complaints and reviews, and report on the RBS latest news. That way, when you consider investing your money with RBS, you will be able to make an intelligent financial decision.
Image Source: BigStock
Personal Banking Services at RBS
Now that you have the answer to the question, “What is RBS?” we will continue to give an overview of its services. RBS offers a plethora of services that can be catered to the needs of each customer. In addition to personal banking, the bank also offers business and commercial options. However, since most of our readers at AdvisoryHQ are interested in personal financial services, we will focus our review on that topic.
Image Source: The Royal Bank of Scotland Group
When you engage with the RBS membership services, there are a number of different types of accounts from which you can choose. Whether you are looking for checking or savings accounts, mortgage or insurance, RBS asserts that it has a solution for you.
When it comes to checking (or as the bank calls it, day-to-day banking), RBS has two primary options – current accounts and credit cards.
Current accounts are debit accounts, and, depending on whether you live in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK, you will have slightly different options.
There are currently five primary options for Scotland residents:
- Reward Silver
- Reward Platinum
- Reward Black
And four options for residents of England and Wales:
- Select Silver
- Select Platinum
In addition to these, RBS offers Student, Graduate, Minor (under 18), and Foundation/Basic accounts for both populations. In an article by The Telegraph, the Student Account was reviewed as having a reasonable overdraft offer but with some tricky fine print. It was not considered the best or the worst of the options reviewed.
Clearly, the current accounts have similar names. However, this does not mean that they have the same exact services. The most notable difference between the two is that the Scottish Reward accounts include the My Rewards program.
The program allows you to earn 3% back on selected household bills if paid with Direct Debit and 1% at partner retailers. The Reward accounts also cost £2–3 more per month than their respective Select accounts. While other current account options require similar fees, some banks have a preferable option where they waive the fee if a certain amount of transactions or payments are made each month.
All of the accounts allow you to use the RBS online banking app to check your balance and make payments. The app is optimized for Apple Pay and fingerprint identification.
Image Source: RBS Credit Cards
Regardless of where you are located, RBS offers four types of cards with the following annual percentage rates (APRs) and annual fees:
*Credit limit and APR can vary based on the bank’s assessment of you as a client.
The Reward, Clear Rate Platinum, and Student cards have all been given five-star ratings from Defaqto, a credit card rating service. The Platinum Card also has a 3-star Fairbanking rating, based off of its features that help customers manage their finances.
In comparison with the average UK credit card interest rate of 2015 (21.6% APR), the Reward, Platinum and Student cards have reasonable rates. The Black card is much higher, which is likely due to the additional benefits it includes. By making timely payments, ideally, you could avoid the high interest charges and enjoy the card benefits.
There have been some Royal Bank of Scotland complaints about the cards. The Credit Karma reviews of the RBS Platinum Card are abysmal. There are only five reviews, and all give one star. Customers cite shoddy customer service, abrupt cancellations, and problems with credit scores.
Another site, ReviewCentre.com, is slightly kinder towards the card, assigning it a rating of 1.7/5. Individuals share RBS complaints about extensive fees and more customer service issues.
Of course, it is also worth mentioning that people tend to remember a negative experience more than a positive or neutral one, so they are more likely to write negative reviews online. It is important to keep both of these considerations in mind when you are thinking about applying for a card at RBS.
Savings & Investments
The Royal Bank of Scotland also offers a number of ways for you to save with its Savings Accounts and investment options.
There are five Savings Account options:
- Instant Saver
- Instant Access ISA
- Fixed Rate ISA
- Fixed Term Savings
- First Saver
The Instant Saver, Instant Access, and First Saver all have a minimum deposit of £1 and allow you to access your money when you want it. Depending on how much is in the account, you can enjoy an APR between 0.50–1.00%.
The Fixed Rate and Fixed Term have minimum deposits of £1,000 and £5,000, respectively. These are accounts with specific terms, during which you cannot access your money. However, you will usually enjoy a higher APR, between 0.80–1.10%.
Savings account interest rates in the UK having been dropping rapidly over the past few years, and RBS’s rates are slightly lower than the national average of 1.41% for individual savings accounts.
The bank also offers RBS online services along with its accounts, such as its 5-Star Savings Goal Tool to help you plan your savings.
In regards to investments, there are also a few options available. To help you invest for your children, RBS has a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA. Children can begin managing the account once they turn 16 but cannot withdraw money until they turn 18.
The bank also recommends the tool The Money Advice Service, and for Private customers, it can set you up with a Specialist Financial Advice Manager to individually advise you on your investment options.
Additional Personal Services at RBS
Since there has been a lot of Royal Bank of Scotland news recently, we will just briefly mention the additional services the bank offers and then continue to the news.
RBS offers multiple different kinds of loans, including personal, car, debt consolidation, home improvement, and holiday loans. The loans have extremely positive RBS reviews at Readies.co.uk, with a rating of 4.4/5.
Most people praise the ease of getting their loans and the reasonable repayment plans. Only a few reviews have RBS complaints, which mentioned the requirement for some customers to have to go into a bank branch to apply for a loan.
You can also take out a mortgage with RBS, and there are many RBS online services to help you do so. The bank has tools to help you, including its Mortgage Calculator and Rate Finder and the Overpayment Calculator.
Recent News About RBS
Image Source: The Royal Bank of Scotland Group
In the economic turmoil of the past few years, there has been constant Royal Bank of Scotland news. The most recent news for the bank has regarded the consequences of the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 and its aftermath.
As reported by The Telegraph, immediately prior to the crisis in 2007, the bank had one of the best years of any bank, with an operating profit of £10.3 billion. However, the following year, it announced losses of £28 billion, the largest in British history. The bank was forced to take a government bailout, labelled as a ‘state aid’ package, which gave the UK government an 81% stake in the bank.
In 2015, the government sold £2.1 billion in shares at a loss, and more recently, there have been reports of another planned attempt to sell more shares. Due to the bank’s losses, however, the estimate dropped from selling £29 billion to £21.5 billion over the next five years.
In spite of all the commotion, many people are still choosing to bank with RBS. As someone who may be wondering, “What is RBS?” and who wants to learn more about RBS and its services, you might be contemplating how this affects customers.
The most tangible way that some RBS clients are feeling the results of the bailout is the bank’s divestment. As part of the bailout, RBS was forced to sell a portion of its business. As reported in 2013 by RBS, the 314 branches will be rebranded under the moniker Williams & Glyn, a bank previously acquired by RBS. The change, which was first announced in 2009, has been delayed to 2017.
According to the primary RBS site, essentially all RBS England and Wales customers will transition to Williams & Glyn in 2017. By using the name of a previously established bank, RBS hopes to appeal to a sense of heritage and tradition as well as distance the bank from the hegemony of RBS. The BBC reports that the change will affect 1200 medium-sized businesses, 250,000 small businesses, and 1.8 million personal finance customers.
Some financial analysts have negative predictions for Williams & Glyn, but only time will tell how smooth the transition will be and what the experience will be like for RBS and W&G clients.
However, the RBS latest news is positive: analysts at UBS (a Swedish financial services company) assert that the bank’s fortune is about to reverse. It is predicted that it will be able to settle its debts by 2020, and its stock (which has been terribly low for years) will rise during this process.
What does this mean for you as a customer? It is still possible to access all of the services at RBS, but if you are a resident of England or Wales, you might want to wait until the transition process is complete to open a new account. Otherwise, you might end up switching banks after just a few months of service.
Royal Bank of Scotland Complaints, Reviews, and Customer Feedback
While we have included some RBS reviews as we’ve discussed the services above, we’d like to mention just a few more to round out our article.
At ReviewCentre.com, the bank has an overall rating of 1.4/5 stars, from 141 reviews. One of the primary RBS complaints is the difficulty of speaking to a representative over the phone. This is probably due to the fact that many people choose to use RBS online services or the RBS online banking app. Since many customers still prefer calling, not having this option is detrimental.
The bank has a slightly better rating at TrustPilot.com: 3.1/5. The complaints there criticize customer service at specific branches and issues with overdraft fees. However, some reviewers praise their experiences with the Platinum accounts and mobile insurance.
Banking at RBS: Is It Right for Me?
RBS is a full-service bank for UK customers and, despite its troubles and notoriety in recent news, the bank is still up and running. It has a wide variety of options for personal banking and savings and even more that we did not fully explore for mortgages and insurance.
Comparatively, RBS does not have the best or worst rates when it comes to both savings and credit. Scottish residents seem to get additional benefits (the My Rewards program) when using RBS’s credit card services.
Depending on the particular kind of account you are interested in, it may be worth your time to get in contact with an RBS representative and learn more about the options available for your specific financial needs.
We hope that this guide has answered your question of “What is RBS?” and has given you insight into the types of services available at RBS as well as the most current news about what is happening with the bank. With this information, you will be able to approach any financial decision you make regarding RBS with confidence.
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