What is a basic bank account?
Basic bank accounts, as suggested by their name, are accounts which come only with the essential features you need for everyday banking – like somewhere to store your income, set up payments and take cash out.
What can I do with a basic bank account?
When you have a basic bank account, you’ll be able to use it for the following:
- Collecting your wage or salary, benefits and any other income
- Paying money in, including cheques, but only in pound sterling
- Withdrawing money from an ATM
- Setting up direct debits and standing orders to pay bills
- Paying for goods and services using a debit card
What’s the difference between a basic bank account and a current account?
There are several differences, but the main ones are that basic bank accounts don’t offer overdraft facilities, nor do they pay interest on your balance.
Who are basic bank accounts for?
Basic bank accounts are designed for people who don’t qualify for standard current accounts due to bad credit – for example, if you have any county court judgements, bankruptcies or major defaults, or if you’re young and haven’t built a credit history.
You can check your score before making an application with our credit monitor.
However, basic bank accounts are open to everyone. They can also be a good option for people who have never had a current account before, or for people who have recently moved to the UK.
Can I open a basic bank account?
To open a basic bank account, you will have to:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Provide proof of identity and address
Can I open a joint basic bank account?
So long as both of you qualify, you’ll be able to open a joint basic bank account.
Can I open a basic bank account if I have criminal convictions?
You should be able to open a basic bank account if you have criminal convictions on your record, however banks can refuse applications if you’ve been involved in fraud or any related activities.
What if my application is refused?
While basic bank accounts are designed to be available to people who might struggle to get a standard current account, you still aren’t guaranteed to be accepted. The bank or building society might refuse your application because:
- You haven’t provided the proper proof of ID or address
- You refuse to let your bank run a credit check
- You have a record of fraud
You’re entitled to ask why your application was refused if so, and they’ll usually give you the reason unless you’re suspected of fraudulent activity. You’ll also be able to appeal the decision to your bank if you disagree with the reason they give.
How much does a basic bank account cost?
Generally speaking basic bank accounts are free to open and won’t charge you for use like some current accounts will – but they also don’t offer the benefits that you’d get for a paid account. This isn’t always the case, so it’s best to check either way before applying.
You should however keep an eye out for the usual charges that apply to bank accounts, such as fees for using your debit card overseas or buying things in a foreign currency. There shouldn’t be any cash withdrawal fees either, unless you’re using a private cash machine – though these will ask if you agree to the fee first – or an ATM abroad.
How do I apply?
You’ll be able to apply for most basic accounts online, over the phone, by post or in person at your local branch. You’ll need to provide proof of ID, such as a driving licence or passport, as well as proof of address, like a utility bill or bank statement from the last three months.
What to keep in mind when choosing a basic bank account?
When you compare basic bank accounts, consider the following:
- Does the bank or building society have a local branch you can visit?
- Do they offer online or mobile banking facilities?
- Is there a buffer zone that lets you access a small amount of money when your account balance is low?
Compare basic bank accounts
Finding the right bank account for your circumstances is a big part of arranging your finances, so comparing different providers is always useful. With MoneySuperMarket you can compare current accounts by the facilities and services they offer, any usage fees they might charge and the feedback they receive from customers.
Just give us a few details about yourself, including your name, address and date of birth, and we’ll show you a list of accounts to choose from.