How to choose a bank account

Banks and building societies are battling to attract new current account customers. High interest rates, free overdrafts and cash incentives may sound great but there are other things you also need to take into consideration when choosing a current account. We give our top tips.

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Statistics show that we are more likely to get divorced than switch our bank accounts. As a result banks and building societies are having to work really hard to attract our custom and we’re seeing that battle in full swing at the moment. From high rates of interest, free overdrafts and even cash incentives, there are all sorts of offers available. But it’s really important not to be sucked in purely by the headline offer. Here are some tips to help you find the best account for your needs.

Think how you use your current account

Contrary to common belief, not all current accounts are the same. Some pay really attractive rates of interest on balances in credit which is great if you rarely go overdrawn. But, if you do dip into the red then you would be better going for an account offering cheaper overdrafts.     So, before you sign up for a new deal, think carefully about how you actually run your current account on a day to day basis.

Do you want branch access?

While we’re doing more and more online, some people still want to have the option of being able to visit the local branch of their bank or building society. If branch access is important to you, don’t just sign up for a pure internet account.

Check the minimum monthly deposit

Many current accounts require you to pay in a minimum amount each month, often £1,000 and sometimes even higher. However, there are some accounts that have lower deposit requirements, others that have no minimum at all, so make sure you check before you sign up.

What customer support is there?

Customer service is really important but people vary in their needs and expectations. Some banks offer 24-hour telephone support, others only man their call centres during certain hours. Some call centres are UK-based, others are overseas. If this factor is that is important to you, make sure you check what’s on offer.

Are there any additional benefits?

The UK remains one of the few countries where individuals don’t have to pay to have a current account. However, there are an increasing number of accounts available which do charge a monthly fee in return for additional benefits such as free insurances and preferential rates. This fee can be worth paying If you’ll make use that of benefits so don’t rule them out but look before hand to check what you’re going to get for your money.

Be aware you may not qualify

If you have been declared bankrupt, have a very low income or haven’t lived in the UK for long, you may not qualify for a standard current account. However, there is an account called a basic bank account which you should be eligible for. This type of account has doesn’t have an overdraft facility, but it does give you somewhere to have your salary paid into, and it will give you a debit card and also the ability to set up direct debits to pay your monthly bills.

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