Why do you need a bank account?
You can use a bank account for:
- Paying your bills
- Receiving money - such as your salary or benefits
- Keeping track of where your money is going
- Saving money
Choosing a Bank Account
Getting the right sort of account is important - you need to think about how and where you will pay money in and get money out and whether you sshould consider an online account.
You may be offered a 'package account' for a monthly fee, check if the add-ons (like travel insurance) are useful to you.
Take a look at our guide to comparing accounts to tell you more about the different sorts of accounts and work out what might suit you best.
1. Individual or joint account?
You can open an account in your own name or with other people, e.g. someone you live with. Remember if you have an account jointly with someone else you are both "jointly and severally" responsible for any charges, interest, fees - this means you can end up being responsible for someone else not managing the account properly - so think carefully before deciding on a joint account.
2. Basic Bank Accounts
Most basic bank accounts have the following features:
- no minimum opening balance
- no fees to pay
- wages, salaries, benefits and tax credits can be paid in direct
- cheques and cash can be paid in
- bills can be paid by direct debit
- cash can be withdrawn through cash machines, no debit card, no overdraft facility
If you are refused a current account, you might be able to open a basic bank account even if you have a poor credit score. Always check with your bank that the account will be fee free so you don't get any unexpected charges.
3. Savings Accounts
There are a number of savings accounts out there and it can all become quite confusing. The main types of savings accounts are:
- Easy Access Savings Account
- Notice Savings Account
- Regular Savings Account
- Individuals Savings Accounts (ISAs)
- Fixed-rates Accounts
For in-depth information on each type of account visit Money Saving Expert
4. Online Bank Accounts
- Check your current balance, statements and transactions
- Set up direct debits and/or standing orders
- Making a one off payment to someone you know or to pay a bill
- Communications with your bank or building society using a secure messaging service
5. Credit Unions
A Credit Union is a non-profit community led organisations that offer access to financial services for everyone.
They offer savings and low cost loans. You can also get a payment card to make purchases online or in shops. This is very helpful if you have been unable to get an account at a high street bank. For more information on Credit Unions visit Money Saving Expert
Opening a bank account
You will need proof of your identity and address to open an account. If you cannot provide what is first asked for don't give up, talk to them about what you can provide and ask them to explain what is needed.
Required ID (proof of identity documents):
- Get up to date copies of documents (bills, rates, benefit letters) - usually need to be less than 3 months old.
Make sure all of your documents show your correct name and address. If you register to vote this will also help with proof of identity.
Running a bank account
To avoid costly bank charges, keep track by:
- Checking your bank statement online
- Checking your paper bank statement
- Obtaining mini statements and balance at cash machines
- Asking for your balance in branch, over the phone or by text
Changing your bank or building society
If you decide to change your bank or building society account, the Current Account Switch Service means that the process will have to be completed in seven working days. Which? have a step-by-step guide to switching your bank account and it is worth searching for the best deal as many banks now offer financial rewards for switching.
If you need advice or support regarding your finances, do not hesitate to contact us on:
0800 6300 443
You can use our live chat service if you would prefer to speak to someone online.