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
There are lots of types of current account to suit all sorts of personal situations. These include:
- Standard: For managing ordinary income and expenditure, usually with a debit card, a cheque book and an overdraft
- Basic: No-frills accounts which come with fewer features, designed for people with bad or no credit history
- Packaged: These come with various bonuses, including things like interest-free overdraft, insurance add-ons and discounts for other banking products. They usually have monthly fees and eligibility requirements
- Student/graduate: Current accounts designed to cover the particular financial pressures faced by students and recent graduates, normally including larger interest-free overdrafts
- Joint: Accounts designed for two or more people, to cover household expenses or couples’ expenditure
- Children’s: These have few features and are designed to introduce children to banking and saving
What benefits can current accounts offer?
Some current accounts come with extra benefits for the account holder, like a cash bonus for signing up, better interest rates or even breakdown cover. The accounts might only be available to certain customers, like those with high credit ratings.
Current account charges
Some current accounts include fees if you use 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.
Why 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.
How to 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.
How to switch current accounts
Switching current accounts has never been simpler, and many providers offer lucrative incentives for moving your account to them.
The Current Account Switch Guarantee makes switching current accounts very easy indeed, and your bank will do most of the legwork for you, including transferring money, direct debits and standing orders, and informing your employer.
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.
Current account rewards
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 eachmonth, or having a minimum number of direct debits, so make sure you can meet the criteria to get the rewards.
Best current account 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.
Check your bank statements
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.
Look 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.
How to keep your PIN safe
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.
Mobile banking apps
Your bank will almost certainly have an app that lets you manage your account online, and some may even be based on their app. This is excellent for quick and easy money management.
How to transfer money
Each bank has different ways of transferring money. Some require you to use a card reader when transferring any sum of money, while others only use it for transactions over a set amount.
Other banks do not use card readers at all, 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.
Do you really need paid benefits?
If your current account comes with benefits such as air miles, you might want to check whether you really need them. For example, if you’re not a frequent flyer, is an air miles bonus worth the extra cost?
How do I open a current account?
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 mean a minimum credit score, especially 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 or post, or by 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. There are also numerous financial incentives on offer for switching accounts.
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. 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 are automatically 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 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 is safe up to a threshold of £85,000 due to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which gives you government protection when you bank. It 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?
There are two types of interest: simple and compound interest. Simple interest is paid in regular increments as a percentage of the original sum.
Compound interest works the same way, but each new payment is calculated including the previous interest payment, so your savings grow at a faster rate than with simple interest.
Most banks use compound interest to calculate their payments.
Can I have more than one current account?
You absolutely can, but whether you should depends on your personal circumstances. Most people can have more than one current account – and many often do. This could be to organise your money better, or to take advantage of interest rates and rewards.
If you’re bad at managing money, it may not be a good idea to have more than one current account – or you may even not be approved for more.
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 with MoneySuperMarket, and when you're ready to make the swtich, all you need to do is give your chosen new bank a few details such as your name, address and date of birth. You will also have to supply some documentation to confirm your identity and address.
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.
How we work
MoneySuperMarket gives you lots of clever ways to save a lot, by doing very little.
- Take control of your credit score by checking and improving it for free with Credit Monitor
- Never overpay again with Energy Monitor, our energy monitoring service
- Over 50 ways to Get Money Calm
So how do we make our money? In a nutshell, when you use us to buy a product, we get a reward from the company you’re buying from.
We currently provide access to six partner companies, covering 30% of the market, though you may have other questions. For instance, do we have commercial relationships or ownership ties that might make us feature one company above another?
We commit to providing you with clear and informative answers on all points such as this, so we have gathered the relevant information on this page.