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Bank accounts

Having a bank account is useful to:

  • pay bills by direct debit which can save you money
  • pay cheques in as cheque cashing agencies can charge as much as 9% of a cheque’s value and an additional fee
  • receive your wages as many employers will only pay wages directly into a bank account

Bank accounts may not be suitable for everyone. Charges can be applied if payments are missed or there is not enough money in an account to cover a payment.

This is for information purposes only to help you make an informed choice. We are not recommending the products or banks included on this page. Please look at your options to see what kind of bank account works best for you.


Types of bank accounts available

Basic bank accounts

Current accounts

‘Jam Jar’ accounts

Pre-paid credit cards

 

Basic bank accounts

Most high street banks offer a basic bank account. It is the simplest type of account available for people who don’t want an overdraft facility or cannot access mainstream current accounts. This may be because you have:

  • little or no credit history
  • going through bankruptcy
  • a low credit score

A basic bank account allows you to:

  • have your wages, salary, benefits, pensions or tax credits paid directly into your account
  • pay bills by standing order or direct debit
  • check bank statements online or by phone
  • use a debit card
  • They usually don’t provide overdraft facilities or cheque books.

Basic bank accounts available on the high street

Basic bank accounts How to access Facilities
Bank of Scotland

Basic Account

Who is it for: people who don’t meet the conditions for their other current accounts.

How to apply: apply online, in person in a branch, or by telephone for a current account. Then they will decide which account is suitable for you.

Visa debit card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Internet and telephone banking

Mobile alerts

Barclays Bank

Basic Account

Who is it for: people who don’t qualify for Barclays’ other current accounts or if you don’t have a current UK bank account.

How to apply: in person at a local branch with 2 forms of identification

Cash card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Mobile banking

Text alerts

The Cooperative Bank

Cashminder Account

Who is it for: people who are in financial difficulty and who do not hold a Cooperative Bank or Smile current account.

How to apply: download application pack online or call them

Available as a joint account

Direct debits

Standing orders

Regular statements

Online and telephone banking

Option to pay through Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay.

Halifax

Basic Account

Who is it for: people who don’t meet the conditions for their other current accounts

How to apply: apply online, in person in a branch, or by telephone for a current account. Then they will decide which account is suitable for you.

Visa electron debit card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Online banking

Telephone and mobile banking

Mobile alerts

HSBC Bank

Basic Bank Account

Who is it for: people who don’t qualify for their other current accounts.

How to apply: download and application pack and return in the post

Visa debit card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Internet and telephone banking

Mobile banking

Lloyds TSB Bank

Basic Account

Who is it for: people who don’t qualify for their other current accounts.

How to apply: in person at a local branch, online or by phone

Visa debit card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Internet and telephone banking

Mobile banking

Nationwide Bank

FlexBasic Account

Who is it for: people who’ve been made bankrupt or who aren’t eligible for other current accounts

How to apply: online

Direct debits

Standing orders

Branch banking

Internet and telephone banking

Mobile banking

NatWest Bank

Foundation Account

Who is it for: people who do not meet the criteria for their other current accounts

How to apply: online. Apply for a Select Bank Account then they will decide which account is suitable for you

Visa debit card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Monthly statements

Santander Bank

Basic Current Account

Who is it for: for people to help manage their money, similar to a ‘jam jar’ account.

How to apply: download an application form online

Cash card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Online and telephone banking

Mobile banking

Yorkshire Bank

Ready Cash Account

 

Who is it for: people over 16,who do not meet the criteria for their other current accounts or are in financial difficulty

How to apply: by phone or in person in a branch

Debit card

Direct debits

Standing orders

Telephone and online banking

 

Current accounts

Current bank accounts offer more facilities than basic bank accounts such as cheque books or overdrafts. Some banks may charge customers for these facilities. You may be able to access benefits such as cash back on purchases, mobile phone or travel insurance with some current accounts. There is usually a cost for these bank accounts

All banks offer current accounts.

Jam Jar accounts

The Jam Jar approach can be a useful way to manage your money. You can do this yourself by physically putting your money into different containers or bank accounts. Money Advice Service has more information on how to use the Jam Jar approach.

‘Jam jar’ accounts are a fairly new product. Your money can be divided into a number of different ‘jars’. For example 1 ‘jar’ could be used for paying bills, another could be used to pay for groceries and so on. This can help you to manage your money, putting it aside to pay bills so it can’t be spent accidentally. There is a monthly charge which can be expensive, costing as much as £15 per month.

Think Money is the only online bank that currently offer this service. Facilities include:

  • contactless debit card
  • text alerts
  • pay in cash and cheques at the Post Office
  • no credit checks to open a current account online
  • no minimum monthly pay in

Post Office accounts

Are no longer available.

Pre-paid credit cards

Pre-paid credit cards can be an alternative to a traditional bank account and are a new way to manage money. Some pre-paid credit cards allow you to pay wages in.

Money Advice Service has more more information about pre-paid cards.

Affordable credit is another option. Read more on InformationNOW


Identification needed to open a bank account

To open a bank account you need to show show documentsto verify your identity and current UK address. The type of identification accepted includes:

Documents to verify your identity Documents to verify your address
Current passport Utility bills (mobile phone bills are excluded)
Current driving licence (provisional licences are not accepted) Current TV Licence
Armed forces identification card Current household insurance policy
Current student university identification card Current tenancy agreement or rent book from a social landlord
Current Child Tax Credit letter, or other official letter from HM Revenues and Customs Current benefit entitlement letter – this must differ from documents used to verify you identity
Notice of coding An official letter from a sheltered housing provider confirming residency
Current benefit entitlement letter, for example Housing Benefit A letter from a local authority to confirm that you’re on the electoral role

Money worries

Support is available to help you to budget and manage your money. Read more on:

  • Managing your money
  • Dealing with debt
  • Affordable credit
  • Savings and Investments
  • Check you’re receiving all the benefits you’re entitled to

Last updated: October 11, 2019

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