In 1984 one UK bank was concerned about losing customers and made a decision that fundamentally changed how Britain’s banking landscape operated. 

Midland Bank, then one of the UK’s big four banking groups (now HSBC), got rid of fees for cheques, statements and standing orders. In other words, it made banking free of charge – although it might be better to describe the move as ‘free in credit banking’.

“You don’t have to pay a penny,” chirped the animated griffin – Midland’s mascot – in the television commercial.

“So if you’re not getting all these [services] free from your bank, you know what to do. Go to the Midland.”

As a result, within months, every other major UK retail bank had introduced free accounts.

Since 1984 the majority of us have benefited from ‘free in credit banking’, accepted the charges levied for one off services or decided to subscribe to a fee paying ‘packaged account’ that offers services like travel insurance and car breakdown cover.

Last week saw Monzo and Starling introduce new fees – read more: paying a fair price for our banking.

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