In many ways this is, for once, an improvement for the customers of the former Halifax but it comes with downsides too.
The range of products on offer is significantly improved with the addition of both a proper Visa card in addition to the existing Visa Electron (which remains the default card issued) and a multi-currency sterling account and a lot more branches in Spain. It’s as clear as mud but the need to keep a balance of 600€ for free banking seems to have disappeared albeit with the downside that there’s now a charge of 9€ per year for the Electron card regardless of balance (replacing the previous 18€ for balances under 600€); it’s 15€ a year for the full Visa debit card.
Probably the biggest downside is that the free transfers from Halifax UK to Halifax Hispania have disappeared so it’s probably a good time to get yourself one of the free FairFX cards and thereby get back your free currency conversions. For free cash withdrawals you can get the CaxtonFX card though their exchange rates aren’t so good therefore it’s probably best to get both cards if you’re living in Spain.
One big difference is in the list of charges. Replacing the Halifax’s previously very clear and short list is a massive 60 page document from Lloyds that throws clarity out the window. It’s certainly complete but I question whether they couldn’t have produced a much simpler and shorter document for normal customers instead of the monster which seems to cover all possibilities from normal people through to major corporate banking.
Overall, I suspect that, for a change, this amalgamation of the Halifax and Lloyds TSB in Spain is probably a good thing for their customers. You can get the freebie currency transfers elsewhere and it frees up the 600€ that was tied up previously to get the free banking, albeit with the downside that you need to fork out 9€ a year.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.
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