This move could save a customer around £2.00 for every call they make to the bank from a mobile, based on average call length. Customers can use 0345 numbers as part of their mobile package minutes, meaning their calls are more likely to be free and if they need to make a complaint their call will always be free.
A full list of numbers will be shared when they begin to go live from end of November 2013.
Doing the right thing
Les Matheson, Interim CEO for UK Retail at RBS and NatWest, said: “We want to be the best bank in the UK for customer service and we’ll only achieve that by making it easy to deal with us and doing the right thing for our customers”.
In a phased approach, the bank will introduce basic rate numbers for mortgage, lost and stolen cards and charges enquiry lines by the end of the year and freephone numbers for fraud and financial difficulty by the end of March 2014.
NatWest and RBS welcome the Which? costly calls campaign and the consumer groups' efforts to make the costs to consumers of calling their bank cheaper and more transparent.
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:"It's great news that NatWest and RBS are doing the right thing for their customers by dropping costly calls. The new leaders at RBS have promised to renew the banks' efforts to improve customer service, and this is a very welcome start.
"With two of the biggest banking groups now leading the way by offering freephone or geographic numbers, we hope this is a tipping point for the banking sector - there's really no excuse for other providers not to follow suit."
NatWest and RBS currently takes around 2.5 million calls per month across all lines. Almost 2 million of these are customers calling with general banking enquiries, for which alternative lines will be provided by the end of November.
Customers will be alerted to new numbers initially through social media, with updates to customer websites and the RBS and NatWest Mobile Banking apps soon after. Statements and customer plastic cards will be updated over time as they are renewed.