First Direct is a retail bank based in the United Kingdom, headquartered in Leeds. It is a telephone and internet-based bank, with no physical branches, and has 1.35million customers in the UK.
First Direct was founded in 1989 by Midland Bank, then one of the UK’s ‘Big Four’ banks. First Direct became part of HSBC three years later after HSBC’s acquisition of Midland. The bank had reached 250,000 customers by March 1993 and 500,000 by April 1995.
First Direct has two major UK call centres, in Stourton, Leeds, and Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. The Leeds call centre serves as the bank’s head office. Initially offering telephone banking only, First Direct launched SMS banking in 1999 and launched its online banking service in August 2000. A first-generation mobile banking service, pre-dating mobile banking apps, followed in 2006.
In September 2016 First Direct introduced voice recognition technology for customers calling the bank, becoming the first UK bank to introduce this technology on a large scale. A new Apple and Android mobile app were launched in 2017.
First Direct Products and Services
Customers who set up a current account with First Direct can access 24/7, 365 days a year banking services by mobile, telephone or online. All customers have, subject to status, a £250 interest-free overdraft. Cheques and cash can be paid in at branches of HSBC.
Current accounts are free for six months, and £10/month after – customers can avoid the charge by either maintaining a monthly balance of at least £1000 or paying at least £1000 into the account each month.
First Direct also gives current account customers the option to set up a ‘sweep’, which transfers monies held in their current account into a savings account on a date of their choosing.
Savers also have a range of options; the Regular Saver account, which rewards customers with the bank’s best interest rate for committing to 12 months without withdrawal, at 5% AER. Customers who need more instant access to their savings can open a standard savings account, or the Bonus Saver account – which allows withdrawals but rewards customers who leave their money untouched.
First Direct has an online loans calculator where customers looking for personal loans between £1000 and £50,000 can see for themselves how much they could apply for. Customers can also take out credit cards – one for balance transfers and one for spending.
First Direct also offers offset and repayment mortgages, at fixed and tracker rates.
First Direct Awards
First Direct is well-known for excellent customer service and was awarded Most Trusted Financial Provider by Moneywise. The bank also won first place in the Which? Best Customer Service survey in 2015.
First Direct Security
First Direct requires customers to log on using a username, password and memorable answer. Mobile banking customers can also use Touch ID if they’d prefer. Extensive information on how customers can keep their information safe is available on the First Direct website.