How to open, switch or close your bank account

With so many different bank accounts available these days, it’s worth checking to see if you can find a better one. Whether you’re looking to set up, switch or close your bank account, this guide has all the information you need.

Opening a bank account

Choose a bank account

First things first. Make sure you know what bank account you’d like to open.

Read our guide How to choose the right bank account for all the information you need to make a decision.

If you have a partner, you might want to read about Joint accounts.

How to open a bank account

Read a transcript of this video (DOC 27KB)

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.

Want to find out more about fee-free basic bank accounts? We’ve pulled together a collection of guides, tips and handy links to make sure you get the best deal.

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.

Find everything you need to know about switching bank account on the Current Account Switch Service website.

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:

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.

For other options when making a complaint read Sort out a money problem or make a complaint.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Money Advice Service

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