first direct
first direct card
5.0
5/5

first direct review

First Direct is internet and telephone-based retail bank with its headquarters in Leeds, United Kingdom. First Direct has a long history of innovation in the financial services beginning in 1989, launching the first online banking service in 2000. In 2006, First Direct also launched a mobile phone banking service, before the invention of the modern first direct app. Today, First Direct banking is famous for its comprehensive and well-established take on online and digital. First Direct is an HSBC Bank plc division and therefore falls under HSBC’s FSCS guarantee, allowing eligible depositors to claim up to the FSCS’s limit where necessary. 

How to open an account with First Direct

To use the First Direct app, it is necessary to register as a First Direct customer. This is made relatively easy and fast with an easy in-app signup process. Download the first direct app, and you will be prompted with a series of on-screen instructions, involving entering a few personal details and verifying your identity. The entire process can take anywhere from minutes to a day, depending on how long First Direct takes to verify your identity. However, the easiest way to open new bank accounts with First Direct is via a web browser. Go to their website and select the option to apply for a new account or a first direct joint account. They also make it easy to switch over your existing bank account to a First Direct one.

The monthly plans first direct offer

It used to be the case that a First Direct account would cost you £10 per month after getting your first six months for free. However, this charge only applied to customers paying under £1,000 into their account each month or not utilizing their first direct savings, credit, loan, mortgage, or home insurance services. In 2019, First Direct decided to get rid of their monthly fee, making all of their services far more accessible and competitive with newer challenger bank accounts

How to add funds to first direct account

There are many options for adding funds to your First Direct account. You can use mobile banking or online banking to set up a direct deposit or a quick transfer into your First Direct account. First Direct also offers an award-winning phone banking service that allows you to speak to real people on the phone in the UK to help you move your money around and manage your finances. First Direct’s relationship with HSBC means that unlike other digital banks, First Direct accepts cash deposits that can be paid in at physical bank branches. It is also possible to withdraw over the counter at an HSBC branch. They also offer a cash deposit service at the Post Office, although this will cost a £1 fee per deposit.

first direct app

Once you have downloaded and logged into the app, you can choose to link it up with any First Direct account, be it a current account, savings account, credit, etc. The app will show you your balance and transactions, allowing you to look at each of your payments. The app then offers a list of other features that can be used for general everyday banking, which is helpful when you can access such a comprehensive range of actions on a mobile app. 

The First Direct app makes payments easy to understand and simple to set up. You can view and delete all of your direct debits in the app and set up new payments and transfers. You can also amend your existing standing orders, set up new ones, and easily move money around your First Direct accounts. The app also utilizes Paym, a service that allows customers to make easy and fast payments to a mobile number. Recent and pending transactions are updated quickly in the app, which is excellent for staying on top of personal finances. In addition to these services, you can also apply for further First Direct accounts in the app, so you don’t need to switch to a web browser to make your application.

first direct savings account

First Direct offers a no-limits, no-restrictions savings account that has no minimum deposit. The account provides an interest rate of 0.15% AER, which is decent for a non-fixed savings account. The first direct savings account will mainly appeal to customers looking for somewhere to put away part of their money securely. The account allows you to make instant transfers to another First Direct account, and it can also be managed over the phone and the app. It also offers first direct joint savings accounts with the same features. Customers also have the option to make automatic transfers from your primary account into your savings.

Unlike most digital banking apps, First Direct does not offer budgeting tools to help its customers manage their finances. However, the bank has announced plans to launch a separate budgeting app called “Artha” that will bring all of a customer’s bank accounts into one place, provide overviews, insights into spending patterns, etc.

first direct loans

First Direct offers both personal loans and credit cards. There are personal loans available between £1,000 and £50,000. Their website provides a loan calculator that allows users to work out repayments on a potential loan. Loan application takes place in the app, over the phone, or on their website and will depend on your credit score. First Direct offers their standard credit card for those looking to make balance transfers; however, they also offer a “Gold Card” for customers who will be using their first direct credit card to make purchases. Both of these credit cards are subject to credit status and can be applied for online, over the phone, or in the app. 

How is safe first direct?

Upon signing up for First Direct online banking, customers are asked to provide a selection of documents that verify their identity. This is to protect customers as much as possible against fraud and financial crime. It is also possible that First Direct will request their customers to provide these documents again at some point in the service to make sure everything they have on you is up to date. It is worth saying that First Direct makes it as convenient as possible to submit these documents using an online document tool. 

First Direct has full FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) protection, meaning that every customer deposit is compensated up to £85,000. This is a standard amongst UK banks, designed to safeguard customer finances should the bank be unable to meet its payment responsibilities. 

First Direct uses many methods to ensure customer safety when using their service. They will occasionally text customers with a message to confirm if they actually made a transaction. These texts are simple to reply to, usually asking for a Y or N reply. Your response will dictate if First Direct places a block on your card instantly. The app also uses the timeout method to ensure the security of your sessions. Once you stop interacting with the app they will sign you out automatically.

Traveling with first direct card

All foreign transactions carried out through First Direct will come with a fee of 2.75% of the transaction value. These fees will be taken from your account within a day of the transaction. Cash withdrawals abroad will also come with a 2% fee, along with the non-Sterling transaction fee. This means that First Direct does not offer much of a competitive service when it comes to traveling and offers a largely comparable service to the traditional banks.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • First Direct provides fully-functioning current and savings accounts
  • Money can be paid into your account quickly by your employer. You can make direct debit payments, bank transfers, and cash deposits into your account
  • The option for cash deposits and withdrawals at HSBC branches
  • Secure login with unique user ID, fingerprint, or facial recognition
  • The first direct app makes it easy to set up and manage all payments
  • The option to make payments to a mobile number with Paym
  • iPhone users can make payments using Siri
  • Help from the extensive existing network of HSBC branches when needed.

 

Cons:

  • This is not a ‘no-fee’ service; however, they are working to scrap as many fees as possible 
  • Currently lacking the innovative extra features and tools offered by newer digital banks (check Revolut review or Bunq review)
  • No budgeting tools such as categorized spending, and their upcoming budgeting service will be based on a separate app.
 

First Direct has a great reputation as one of the first true innovators in financial services, which will undoubtedly provide many customers with peace of mind in their well-established internet banking and phone banking services. The app makes all your everyday banking needs straightforward and fast; however, there is little else to do beyond the traditional banking functions. The upcoming budgeting app will undoubtedly add more depth to their service. We are excited to see which features and tools this will incorporate to help their customers manage their finances. First Direct offers a comprehensive online banking service, with options for first direct current accounts, savings account, credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc. It is handy to have all of these accounts in one place on the app. First Direct is worth looking into if you consider making your first foray into digital banking or require more than just the current account offered by many other digital banks.