Opening a bank account
Choose a bank account
First things first. Make sure you know what bank account you’d like to open.
How to open a bank account
Now that you know what bank account you want it’s time to speak to the bank.
You can do this in branch, over the phone or online.
The bank will run a credit check to discover your credit history.
This will tell them, for example, whether you’ve had problems with credit repayments in the past.
You’ll also be asked to provide a:
- Proof of identity (for example, a passport or driving licence)
- Proof of address (for example, a recent utility or phone bill)
If you don’t have any of the above, speak to the bank about alternative documents you might be able to use.
Fee free basic bank accounts
If banks turn you down for a standard account, you can always apply for a fee free basic bank account.
Launched in January 2016, these accounts don’t charge fees, don’t provide overdrafts and won’t charge you if a Direct Debit fails.
How to switch bank accounts
Most banks and building societies offer a free seven-day Current Account Switch Service.
It’s backed by a guarantee that means you’ll be refunded any interest and charges on your old and new accounts if anything goes wrong.
How to choose a current account
Comparison websites are a good starting point for anyone trying to find a current account tailored to their needs.
We recommend the following websites for comparing current accounts:
- Go Compare – This also allows you to use the government-backed Midata tool to securely upload your past transactions and get customised current account recommendations.
- Money Saving Expert
In Northern Ireland, you can also try the Consumer Council Comparison Tool.
How to close a bank account
You can close most bank accounts whenever you like without being charged a fee or penalty.
It’s usually just a case of getting in touch with your bank.
However, if you’re overdrawn you’ll have to pay off what you owe.
If you’re not using the Current Account Switch Service to shut your account, make sure any Direct Debits or payments are transferred to your new account.
If your bank decides to close your account
If your bank decides to close your current or instant access savings account, you’ll generally be given two months’ notice.
For other accounts, it must give you ‘reasonable notice’, so that you can make alternative arrangements.
The bank can delay the closure if you have made payments that have not yet been taken from your account, for example a cheque or card payment.
If things go wrong
If you are unhappy about something your bank has done, the first thing to do is to talk to someone at the bank about it.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.