Savvy England
Savvy England
Savvy England

Searching for a Current Account in September 2018? Read this helpful UK money guide today!

By Phillip Gray
Founder and Editor
british bank account credit cardAre you searching for a new current account in the UK? Banks and building societies offer these types of accounts for day-to-day activities. Such as paying bills, accepting your wage, receiving your pension, benefits, direct debits and so on.

You’ll find that this section has been created to help members of the British public, understand their banking in more detail. You’ll find helpful hints, informative guides, tips and tricks.

In addition, our money expert team are constantly updating this page with the latest ‘deals’ and ‘special offers’ from UK banks, you never know, you may just find yourself a great deal!

What is a Current Bank Account?


As previously stated, a UK Current Account is designed for daily use. You can apply for an account at a local high street branch, online or over the phone. Current accounts can ‘do’ a wide variety of things, such as:

  • Accept your wage, benefits payments or pension

  • You can check your balance either by using the telephone, internet banking, over the counter or at a cash machine

  • Pay for things with a debit card (both in person and online)

  • The ability to ‘set up’ direct debits and standing orders

  • Transfer money by online banking or telephone services

  • Withdraw money from an ATM machine or over the counter

  • Most providers will allow you to apply for an overdraft

  • Write and accept cheques

Who is Eligible for a Current Account?


ATM cash machine Generally, the eligibility will vary depending on which bank or building society you select. In most cases the following applies:

  • Over 16 Years Old – you need to be over 16 to open a current account in the United Kingdom, however you may find some banks have a minimum age of 18. If you’re under 18 you might be able to open a current account with your parents’ help. If you’re looking for a bank account for a teenager or child, please visit our Junior Bank Account section for further details.

  • General Use – Some providers may specify that a ‘minimum monthly payment’ must be deposited into the account, this can be your wages, pension or benefits. This doesn’t apply to all banks or building societies, some won’t have a minimum use at all, you’ll need to read the terms and conditions to see how this applies to you.

  • Credit History – As many current accounts have an overdraft facility, you’ll need to have a good credit score and ‘pass’ a credit check.

    If you have ‘poor credit’ or a bad financial past, you may not be eligible for a current account. Typically, if you have a CCJ (County Court Judgement), are or have been bankrupt or have been convicted of a money-related offence (such as money laundering or fraud) you may be rejected. If this happens to you, there is other options, please visit our Opening a UK Bank Account with a Poor Credit History page for further information.

  • Identity Verification – Most banks or building societies will ask for proof of your identity and address before you can open a bank account. This generally involves a ‘Name ID’ such as a birth certificate, UK driving licence or British passport. You’ll also need an ‘Address ID’, this can be a recent utility bill, council tax, mobile phone bill and so on.

How much do they cost?


If you have money in your account, you generally don’t have to pay for current account services, such as direct debits, receiving your wage, paying for things on your debt card and so on. However, you could be charged additional fees for:

  • Overdrafts – If you have a ‘authorised’ overdraft, i.e. one that has been pre-agreed for by your bank, you may have interest charges. Most providers will have an ‘interest-free’ period, however not all do.

    If you have an ‘unplanned’ overdraft, i.e. one that has not been agreed with your bank, you’ll generally be charged for not having enough money in your account. The amount varies on which bank or building society you use; however, it can be around £10-£30 for each transaction.

  • Cash Machines – Most ATM machines allow you to withdraw money for ‘free’, however there is some exceptions. Generally, cash points in small convenience stores will charge you, as will garage forecourts or nightclubs. The charge can vary, however sometimes it can be as high as £5 each time you withdraw money!

    In addition, using a credit card to withdraw cash comes with a charge, and you’ll pay interest from the date you withdraw the money. Also, some prepaid cards may also charge you a fee to withdraw money from cashpoint machines.

  • Refused – If you don’t have enough money in your account to ‘cover’ a direct debit or standing order, you’ll normally have to pay charges if they get refused. This varies depending on your bank, however it can be as high as £25 for each refused payment.

  • Monthly Maximum Charges – You’ll find that Current accounts now have a ‘Monthly Maximum Charge’ this is also known as MMC. This is designed to be a maximum amount you’d pay each month in fees, charges and interest on unarranged overdrafts.

    It typically doesn’t apply to authorised overdrafts, you’ll find the amount varies depending on the bank or building society you use.

Where can I get a UK Current Account?


You can apply for a current bank account at all major banks and building societies throughout the United Kingdom. Equally, you can also compare deals online, within a matter of seconds you can look at the best deals from banks including:

Barclays

Clydesdale

Co-Operative

Halifax

HSBC

Lloyds

Nationwide

Natwest

RBS

Santander

TSB

Ulster Bank

Virgin Money

Yorkshire Bank


Easy Steps to Manage the Account


It’s straightforward to manage your finances, most people will have access to mobile banking, internet banking and of course you can go into a local branch to. If you want to keep on top of your account, you should:

Use Mobile and Internet Banking
The digital revolution has had a huge effect on our banks, we can now view all of our transactions at a simple touch of a button. We can set up and cancel direct debits, check other financial products such as Savings accounts, ISAs and more! This allows people to be more watchful about their spending.
Set up Text Alerts
Most banks will offer ‘free text alerts’ which can be sent directly to your mobile phone. Equally some providers will also have ‘email alerts’ too. These alerts will let you know more about your account, such as when your balance is getting low or when money has been paid in or out.
Find out your Bank Charges
Don’t assume your bank may not charge for certain things, for example some will charge for cash withdrawals when abroad, they may even charge for foreign transactions too. Other charges can relate to missed or refused payments, being overdrawn and so on.
Speak to your Bank
If you need further assistance with your account or would like to learn more about certain features, contact your providers customer service team. Most banks and building societies want to help you use your account and the services they offer.
Read the Small Print
As with most things in life, it’s important you read the small print. Some providers may have additional charges, specific rules or time periods, which could affect you.
Switch Provider
If you’re unsure about your current bank and think you may be able to get a better deal elsewhere, why not switch! We all do it, switching is very common nowadays, think about car insurance, energy insurance and more! We switch lots of different things every year, so why would our banking be any different.

Equally, it’s easy to switch banks in the UK, there’s a free seven-day service, for more information please read our Switching bank account page.

What if something goes wrong?


Sometimes we can be unhappy with the service we’ve received, in most cases banks offer a great service, however things can go wrong.

If you’re unhappy, the first piece of advice is to speak to your bank or building society directly. Typically, they’ll attempt to ‘sort’ any issues out in a reasonable time-frame, nevertheless they must investigate your compliant and give a clear answer within eight weeks.

If you don’t receive a reply within the eight weeks or you’re still unhappy with their level of service, you may be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

As a consumer, you have a right to complain about your bank or a financial services company using the Consumer Rights Act (CRA).

Remember the Financial Ombudsman Service has been set up by Parliament to resolve individual complaints between financial businesses and their customers. They can look into problems involving most types of money matters, from payday loans to pensions, pet insurance to PPI. If they decide someone's been treated unfairly, they have legal powers to put things right. Please click on the link to visit the Financial Ombudsman’s official website .
Original Publication: 01 May 2017
Last Updated: 05 May 2018

Further details about using this website

This website has been designed to help UK consumers find the best money saving tips, tricks, guides and techniques. Of course, just like many organisations we cannot guarantee 100% perfection. With that in mind, by using this website you agree that all information should be used at ‘your own risk’ and we cannot be held responsible or liable under any circumstances.

  • Anything you see on this website does not constitute health, financial or any other form of advice, as everybody has different circumstances and situations, you should always do your own research to make sure it’s correct for your individual requirements.

  • We often use links to third-party websites, we cannot be held responsible for any of their content. For third-party links, you’ll see a box and arrow such as this next to a link or as part of a section. Sometimes we may get paid for a links such as these, this is called an affiliate and helps to finance this website.

  • While we always attempt to show up-to-date and accurate information at the time of publication, we cannot 100% guarantee product information, deals, savings or prices will be 100% correct. Everything should be used as a 'general guide only'. You should always do your own research and check a 'sale', 'saving' or 'deal' is not cheaper elsewhere.
  • You should bear in mind that we don’t examine the stability of companies mentioned, unfortunately businesses cease trading on a daily basis, even big national companies. In some cases you can protect yourself, please click here for further details.

  • All images, photos and graphical elements featured on this site, have either been created by our in-house team or purchased legally from stock photography agencies.

  • Of course, there’s more legal jargon which you should be aware of, this includes our disclaimer, terms and conditions, cookie policy and privacy policy. You can find all of these links at the bottom of every page.

  • If you have noticed an incorrect link or page which needs our assistance, please Click Here to contact us. A member of our team will correct the problem as soon as possible.