Do you need a bank account?
Most likely - yes. You can use one for
- Paying your bills
- Receiving money - such as your salary or benefits
- Keeping track of where your money is going
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.
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.
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.
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tax credits can be paid in direct - cheques and cash can be paid in - bills can be paid by direct debit - cash can be withdrawn through cash machines, no debit card, no overdraft facility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.
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.
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.
Ways to improve your 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
- Register to vote
Running a bank account
To avoid costly bank charges, keep track by:
- Checking your bank statement
- Obtaining mini statements and balance at cash machines
- Asking for your balancein 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.