Santander UK has today announced that it is to make changes to its overdraft and credit card systems, as a temporary measure amid the coronavirus crisis. The move comes in the days after a number of other banks announced it would be making temporary changes in order to help people cope during the financial fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the package of support measures announced today, Santander will provide support for personal customers with agreed overdrafts, credit cards, savings and mortgages.
Meanwhile, support for business customers through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) have been announced, as well as the introduction of a new “tailored business support process”.
So, what do the changes mean for Santander customers?
Among the changes is the introductoin of a £350 interest free agreed overdraft buffer for three months, which will come into effect from April 6, 2020.
It means that interest on up to £350 on any agreed overdraft limit will automatically be waived.
Santander says that this option gives support to cusotmer who use their overdraft regularly, but also those who don’t currently use an overdraft but may need to rely on it in the coming weeks.
Additionally, the bank will remove fees on credit cards for late payments and cash advances form March 30.
Meanwhile, homeowners who have a mortgage with Santander can use an online process to apply for a three-month payment holiday, with this confirmed to have no impact to a customer’s credit file.
The bank said that to date, they have received more than 90,000 applications.
Another measure which is being put in place is providing immediate access to fixed terms savings accounts without penalties – with this including fixed rate bonds and fixed rates ISAs.
Susan Allen, CEO Retail and Business Banking, Santander UK, said: “This is an incredibly worrying time for our customers and we know that concerns about money are top of mind for many.
“We hope that the changes we are introducing will provide some much needed and immediate help, but we would also like to reassure customers that we will continue to update the support we provide and make sure we are helping those in financial difficulty.
“At this time it is really important that we are available to those who most need us. Many of these measures will be applied automatically and detail can be found on our website.
“We urge customers to only contact us by phone if they need urgent support or they have no other means to get in touch – for other customers our online chat service is available to help answer questions.”
The announcement has come in the days after banks such as Nationwide, NatWest, The Lloyds Group, and HSBC revealed its emergency measures to help its customers who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last night, Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis highlighted the different measures which banks have been announcing earlier this week, during a coronavirus special of his ITV show The Martin Lewis Money Show.
He explained that the APRs for many overdrafts had been hiked, ahead of new rules by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) coming into effect next month. Mr Lewis explained that overdrafts were becoming “the new danger debt”.
“Thankfully, some the banks are starting to see that the timing is bad on that,” he said, before highlighting some forms of help announced.
“Barclays has said you will automatically get zero percent on all approved overdrafts, and that’s from March 27 until April 30.
“HSBC will increase your buffer zone – the amount that you can go into your overdraft with it being interest free – to £300 for everyone automatically, and that will last for three months starting from today.
“Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland: Very similar – £300 [buffer] except it starts on the 6th of April. That’s automatic.
“RBS and Natwest aren’t going to the new 40 percent. They’re sticking at 19.9 percent and they’re going to get rid of their £6 a day fee. That one starts on Monday.
“Nationwide: Not automatic – it’s the only one. You ned to apply but you can apply from tomorrow for a zero percent overdraft that will last around two and a half months.”