The One account
Initially, the company was known as the 'Virgin One account' and promoted to Virgin Direct's 200,000 strong UK customer base. The launch was very successful and was extended to the entire British public in May 1998.
The One account is operated directly by phone, internet and post, with the customer service originally being provided on a 24/365 basis, but now reduced to a weekday and Saturday peak hour service.
Current Account Mortgages
The type of offset products offered by The One account are called Current Account Mortgages (CAM). As the name suggests, customers consolidate the balances of their mortgage, traditional current accounts, personal loans and, if desired, their saving accounts into one account.
A low, mortgage-style interest rate is charged on the net balance of the account on a daily basis. Since customers pay their salary into the account this money has the effect of reducing the average balance and, therefore the interest paid when compared with a traditional mortgage. The interest rate used to vary with the Bank of England base rate, however in recent months the One Account interest rate has not decreased along with the bank rate. In June 2008, customers were informed that their mortgage rates would increase by 0.25% to reflect 'current market conditions' although the Bank of England rate had not increased. The One account vaunts the flexibility afforded by current account mortgages - customers may over or underpay for periods without prior agreement. The offset mortgage provides many the opportunity to save tens of thousands of pounds in interest charges and pay off their mortgage years early.
In 1999, research from NOP Financial validated by David Goldreich of London Business School proved that eight out of every ten people in the UK with borrowings of more than £50,000 would be better off with a One account.
Existing mortgage customers of the NatWest One Account are not allowed to switch to RBS mortgage dealers for existing customers as they are apparently not regarded as 'existing customers' since the NatWest One mortgage account is no longer open for no business. RBS is unable to explain why the fact that the NatWest One account is no longer open to new customers, this somehow makes their customers deemed to be no longer 'existing customers'. NatWest One customers are not regarded as either customers of Nat West or RBS and reside in a limbo between the two.
In June 2002, The Virgin One account scooped both Best Mortgage provider and Best Current Account provider at the Guardian/Observer Consumer Finance awards.
In the following year, The One account was awarded ‘Best Mortgage Provider’ for the 3rd year running at The Guardian/Observer Consumer Finance Awards, ‘Best Current Account and Offset Mortgage Provider’ at the Moneyfacts Awards, ‘Best Current Account Mortgage’ at the Your Mortgage Awards and ‘Lifestyle Lender of the Year’ at the Mortgage Strategy Awards.
More recent awards include 'Best Current Account Mortgage' from Mortgage Magazine in 2005 and 2006, 'Best Current Account Mortgage' from Your Mortgage Magazine in 2005, and in 2006 The One account was voted the 'Best Current Account and Offset Mortgage Provider' by Moneyfacts.
On 23 February 2012, the One Account wrote to its mortgage holders telling them that their interest rates would be going up by a quarter of a percentage point as "...the interest rates at which we borrow have risen...". It came the same day that RBS announced a doubling of attributable losses to £2bn in 2011 over the previous year, and the handing out of bonuses worth £785m to staff.