Current Accounts Guides
What is a current account?
A current account is a bank or building society account that lets you manage your day-to-day spending.
You can have your salary paid into it, set up direct debits and standing orders and negotiate an overdraft. Some accounts also pay interest on balances and offer cashback on spending.
Types of current account
If you just want to manage your money you might only need a standard current account, however if you have other requirements you may be able to find a type of current account that’s suitable. For example, providers can offer basic bank accounts for people with a poor credit history, joint bank accounts for more than one account holder, or children’s accounts that come without overdrafts.
Current account benefits
Some current accounts come with extra benefits for the account holder, like a cash bonus for signing up, better interest rates, and even car insurance or breakdown cover. The accounts might only be available to certain customers, like those with high credit ratings.
Current account charges
Current accounts can also include fees for using them in a certain way – some banks might charge you for resending a printed account statement or for accessing your account abroad. You may even be charged a fee for going into your overdraft without telling your bank beforehand.
The traditional idea of banking is being changed by digital or challenger banks, who provide most of their services through the internet or a mobile app rather than in branch or over the phone. Many are designed to be more open and transparent with customers and less focused on banking products.
Compare current accounts
It’s more attractive than ever to compare current accounts: healthy competition means there are a number of incentives available for those willing to switch. But if you don’t compare current accounts, you could be missing out on a great deal – and some free cash!
Switching current accounts is simple because most of the legwork is done for you and, at the end of it, you can benefit from an account that’s much better for your pocket and lifestyle.
Find the best current accounts
If you’re looking for the best current account, you’ll benefit from a wide range of products to choose from. Many of the best current accounts offer:
- High interest rates
- Cashback and rewards on spending
- Competitive overdraft rates
The best current account is different for each person, as it depends on your spending habits and level of savings. Our guide to our best current accounts will help you discover which type account will suit you – and we’ll even help you to open it.
Great for switching cashback
Switching current accounts has never been simpler, and many providers are offering lucrative incentives for moving your account to them.
When you switch your current account to a new bank or building society, you could get £100 or more in cashback as a reward for switching. Just make sure that you’re applying for an account that suits your needs, not just the one with the highest cashback.
If you tend to stay in credit and never go overdrawn, you could get rewarded regularly by your bank or building society. By switching to a rewards current account, you could get a monthly reward payment and earn cashback on your spending. Some providers will also offer a cash incentive for switching your current account to them.
Many rewards accounts have requirements such as paying in a minimum amount each month, or having a minimum number of direct debits, so make sure you can meet the criteria to get the rewards.
Top for customer service
If you’re fed up with getting poor customer service from your bank, switch your current account to a provider that’s known for looking after its customers.
As well as making your life easier, some of these accounts offer extra benefits such as competitive overdrafts or cashback for switching.
Many current account providers require you to pay in a minimum amount every month, so make sure you can manage this.
It’s a good idea to check your account statements regularly, because this could stop you going into your overdraft without knowing. It can also be a good way to double check whether there are any transactions you don’t recognise.
It’s also worth looking for a provider with good customer service, because you never know when you’ll need to call them up or go into a branch to fix an issue.
Remember to be careful with your PIN and account details – you should keep this information safe and protected. Remember, your bank will never ask you to reveal details like your PIN, either on the phone, in person, or through an email.
You may want to check whether your bank has an app that lets you manage your account online – for quick and easy money management.
You’ll need to use a card reader when transferring any sum of money with some banks, while some might say you’ll only need a card reader for transactions over a set amount. Other banks may not need you to use a card reader for any transactions - so if money transfers are something you might be doing a lot of, it’s worth checking the policy details to see how easy it is to make payments on the go.
If you’re opening a current account that comes with benefits, such as car insurance or air miles, you might want to check whether they are really necessary. For example, if you already have car insurance that provides better coverage, you’re unlikely to make use of an extra car insurance policy, but if you’re a frequent flyer then an air miles bonus might be worth the extra cost.
How do I open a current account?
You’ll be able to open a bank account through the internet, over the phone, by post, or face to face in-branch – although check what the bank’s policy is on this. Most banks will need you to show ID and an official document that has your address on to open an account - this might be a recent utility bill, account statement, or council tax bill.
Who can open a bank account?
Most providers will only need you to be over 18 to open a bank account, but some banks might have additional requirements for certain types of accounts. This could be a minimum credit rating if the account comes with perks or benefits.
How do I close a current account?
If you want to close your account, you’ll normally be able to do this by contacting your bank either by phone, post, or meeting face to face and letting them know.
Why should I switch current accounts?
Switching current accounts is a great way to save money, as you might be able to find a provider that offers better interest rates or more useful incentives as part of the account. The process also only takes a maximum of seven working days, thanks to the Current Account Switch Service, so you’ll be ready to bank in no time.
Do I need to tell my bank when I switch current accounts?
You don’t need to tell your bank when you switch current accounts. This is because when you’ve completed the Current Account Switch Agreement form, the bank you are switching to will take care of the rest.
What happens to my direct debits when I switch current accounts?
Any payments in and out of your old account will automatically be switched thanks to the Current Account Switch Service, and your new bank will contact the person sending the payment or the person due to receive the payment to let them know your new account details. They’ll also contact you if there are any problems.
If you created any regular payments using your old account’s debit card then you might need to manually change them.
Can I add someone to my current account?
Many banks will let you add another name to your current account – you’ll normally both have to go into a branch and show ID to do this, as well as fill out some forms.
However, some accounts might only be limited to one account holder, and others could say the additional person needs to be a certain age. They may even need to make a payment into the account to be added – read more with our guide to joint bank accounts.
How do I change my personal details?
If you want to change the personal details on your account you’ll normally be able to do this by filling out a form or going into a branch. You’ll generally need to bring in some sort of proof of your new personal details, for example a marriage certificate if you’re changing your name for marriage, an amended birth certificate, or another form of identification – you can ask your bank or check online to see what they need you to do.
What if my bank goes out of business?
If your bank goes out of business your money will generally be safe due to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which gives you government protection when you bank and includes digital and challenger banks, building societies and credit unions.
What do AER and APR mean?
AER stands for Annual Equivalent Rate, and it shows you how much interest you’re earning on the balance of your savings account. APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate, which refers to the interest rate you’ll pay on any loan or credit card repayments.
What is simple and compound interest?
Simple interest is when each monthly interest payment is based on the original amount of money. Compound interest means the interest payment is based on the original balance plus any interest already added.
Can I have more than one current account?
It might depend on your personal situation, but most people can have more than one current account – in fact, many often do. This could be to organise your money better, or to take advantage of interest rates and rewards.
Why use MoneySuperMarket to switch your current account?
Switching current accounts is easy with MoneySuperMarket, and it could mean you get to take advantage of better interest rates and cashback rewards, vouchers and other incentives.
The process of switching will take a maximum of seven working days with the Current Account Switch Service – all your direct debits should be switched over automatically, and everything should be taken care of by your new account provider.
You can compare current accounts on MoneySuperMarket – all you need to do is give a few details like your name, address, and date of birth, as well as supplying some documentation to confirm your identity and address, and you’ll be ready to compare.
You’ll be able to look at a number of important factors, like the interest rates they’ll pay, the overdraft rates they’ll charge, any rewards they provide, and any costs involved in holding an account.
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