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, and use it to make payments via direct debit or standing order. You can also withdraw cash when you need it. Some bank accounts also allow you to borrow money using an overdraft.
What are the different types of bank account?
The main types of current account you can compare with MoneySuperMarket are:
- Standard/personal bank accounts: Usually free, these accounts come with a debit card and a cheque book
- Basic bank accounts: Basic bank accounts are designed for people with bad or no credit history, who might be denied a bank account otherwise
- Packaged bank accounts: These offer various advantages, such as an interest-free overdraft or discounts on other banking products, usually in return for a monthly fee
- Student/graduate bank accounts: Current accounts aimed at students and recent graduates, these accounts usually offer larger interest-free overdrafts
- Joint bank accounts: Designed for two or more people, joint accounts are often used to cover household expenses
- Children’s bank accounts: Kids’ bank accounts are simple accounts designed to introduce children to banking and saving
- Business bank accounts: Business bank accounts are designed for companies, and offer extra features designed with your company’s needs in mind
- Online bank accounts: So-called digital-only accounts offer all their services online or via mobile apps
How to compare current accounts with MoneySuperMarket
Our bank account comparison table lets you search for a new bank account by:
- Switch incentive – if the bank pays an incentive to switch bank account
- Customer service score – as judged by MoneySavingExpert.com users
- Digital bank rating – our evaluation of the account’s digital services
- Overdraft – availability, 0% offers and fees
Other bank account benefits to look out for when making your choice include:
- Cashback and rewards
- High in-credit interest rates
- Fee-free overseas spending
- Special offers on other banking products
What do I need to switch bank accounts?
It’s easy to open a bank account online. Just find the account that best suits your needs, click on ‘Go to site’ and follow the instructions. In most cases, applying takes minutes, and your new account provider manages the process from there – including redirecting payments such as your salary and household bills.
Thanks to the Current Account Switch Guarantee, your switch will then take place on the date of your choosing, and should take no more than seven days.
Current Accounts Guides
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?
To open a bank account, you’ll have to apply for it online, over the phone, in a branch or by post. If it’s your first current account, you’ll have to prove your identity and your address, for example with a passport or driving licence and a recent bill. However, this is often not necessary if you’re switching from one UK bank account to another.
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.
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