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How to open a bank account

Opening an online bank account: Our step-by-step guide

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Written by  Ella Jukwey
5 min read
Updated: 10 Mar 2023

It’s quick and easy to open a new bank account. Here’s the information you need to get started

Do I need a bank account?

A bank account is handy to have for a range of reasons:

Store your money: Bank accounts are where you can keep your money. Your current account is where your employer will pay your salary into. Depending on the type of bank account you have, you could also earn interest on where you choose to keep your money.

Keep money safe: Having a bank account can also protect your cash. If your bank is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), your money will be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Under the FSCS, up to £85,000 in your bank account or £170,000 in a joint account is protected if the bank or building society goes bust.

Proof of payment: Having a bank account can serve as proof of payment as your transactions will be recorded digitally.


What to consider before opening a bank account

There are a range of current accounts available in the UK. Different current accounts will cater to different needs and financial habits. Here are some of the first things to consider:

What information will I need to open a bank account?

To open a new bank account, you’ll need to provide some basic personal information. Here’s what your bank will want to know about you:

  • Your name 

  • Your date of birth 

  • Your nationality 

  • Your address, and any previous addresses 

  • Your marital status 

  • Your contact details

What do I need for proof of ID and address?

When opening a new bank account, this is what you’ll need as proof of ID and address:

  •  A recent utility bill with your name (last 3 months) 

  • A recent council tax bill 

  • A rental or mortgage contract 

  • A bank statement 

  • A benefits or state pension letter

How do I open a bank account online?

Opening a bank account online is a quick and easy process – here’s how you do it:

When you compare with MoneySuperMarket, it’s easy to find the right account for you – and you can sort your results by switch incentives, overdraft limit, or customer satisfaction.

Once you’ve found the right account for you, click on the link to go to the bank’s website and start your application.

Your new bank will need to know a few things about you, including your personal information and your income.

You can use your webcam, phone camera or tablet to take a photo of your proof of ID and proof of address.

You’ll then be asked to confirm who you are – some banks might even ask you to take a selfie or record a short video, so the bank knows it’s really you applying for the account.

If you’d like to apply for an overdraft, set up a joint account, or switch from your existing account, just let your bank know what extra services you need.

How do I open a joint account

If you want to share a bank account with someone else, you can open a joint account. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You can open the account online, in-branch or on the phone 

  • One or both of you may need to hold an account with the bank to open the joint account. Check with the bank directly 

  • You’ll need to provide documentation for proof of ID and address

How do I open an online-only bank account?

Online-only banks, also known as challenger banks, have risen in popularity recently. Banks like Monzo are online-only as they don’t have any physical branches. You can usually open an online-only bank on your smartphone with the bank’s app or online through their website. You will need to provide proof of identity and address so they can verify your details. Some digital banks may require you to record a video of yourself as well as supplying documents so they’re sure it’s really you.

Can I open a bank account in person?

You can still open a bank account in person in a branch. To avoid waiting in a long queue it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your local branch, and to bring all the paperwork you’ll need with you – that’s your ID and your proof of address. The bank staff will then be able take you through the process of opening a new account.

How do I switch from an existing bank account?

It’s easy to switch from an existing bank account to a new one – all the details will be handled by your new bank. When you apply, simply tell your new bank that you’d like to move over your current account. 

Switching is a great way to make sure you’re getting a bank account that does the most for your money. Even if you’re happy with the bank account you have right now, it always pays to see what else is on offer – and there’s no better way than by comparing online.

Other useful guides

What is a current account?

Digital banking explained 

How to choose the best current accounts 

How to pay off your overdraft fast

Compare bank accounts with MoneySuperMarket

MoneySuperMarket makes finding a new current account quick and simple. We work with some of the UK’s leading banks to show you the best options from across the market. You can sort bank accounts by overdraft limit, introductory offers, or even customer satisfaction – so you can be sure you’re choosing the right account for you.

Frequently asked questions

Can I open a bank account for someone else?

In general, you can’t open a bank account for another person – unless you’re a parent or guardian and you’re opening a bank account for a child, or you have power of attorney. However, you can easily open a joint account with another person.

How do I close a bank account?

If you want to close your account for any reason, simply get in touch with your bank. If you’re overdrawn, though, you’ll have to pay off what you owe before you can shut down the account. 

Can I open a bank account if I am unemployed or on benefits?

Yes, you can still open a bank account, whatever your financial situation. If you’re on benefits, you’ll need a bank account to deposit the money. Just keep in mind that you might not be eligible for some types of accounts without a certain level of income.

Is there a minimum amount I have to open my bank account with?

No, many banks will let you open an account without any initial deposit.

Will opening a bank account affect my credit score?

Like any change to your financial status, opening a new bank account could lead to a small dip in your credit score. Your credit should recover pretty quickly though – it’s only a problem if you keep opening new accounts before your credit score has time to bounce back.

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