Compare online current accounts
Find the best online current accounts including those offering fee-free withdrawals while you’re abroad, and more.
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Online current accounts offer a number of benefits, including convenience, ease of signup and account management and potentially lower fees. You can also access digital features including virtual cards.
This guide will take you through how online current accounts work, what exactly you should look for and the costs to be aware of.
What's in this guide?
- Compare a range of online current accounts
- What is an online current account?
- Why should I use an online current account?
- Are there any disadvantages?
- What else should I look out for in an online current account?
- How do I open an online current account in Ireland?
- What online current accounts are available in Ireland?
What is an online current account?
Online current accounts are bank accounts that exist entirely online. You apply for the account online and manage it online. Online bank accounts may be offered by online-only or digital banks or they might be offered by traditional banks, like the Bank of Ireland.
Digital banks offer online accounts that are usually managed through an app, although some offer Internet banking as well. These online accounts usually give you a few account options, including a free account and paid accounts that let you access more features.
With online accounts, you can take advantage of benefits such as virtual cards, lower fees and foreign currency transfers, depending on who you open an account with.
Why should I use an online current account?
There are several advantages to online current accounts:
- Low or zero fees. Online accounts can come with lower fees because there is less overhead for the bank to offer them. Digital banks usually offer a free account as a base option with premium paid accounts available as well. Traditional banks may scrap certain fees for their online-only account offering by restricting your branch access.
- Access to your funds 24/7. Online current accounts let you deposit and withdraw funds at any time. Having such flexible control of your money can be very useful if you need to make payments outside the hours of a traditional bank, for example, to make international transfers.
- Greater security. Some online banks offer current accounts with enhanced security features. These can include card controls such as the ability to block your card if it’s lost or stolen or security for your banking app.
- Contactless payments. You will receive a card that is capable of making contactless payments. You’re also able to add this card to Apple Pay or Google Pay, so you can tap and pay with your phone.
- Instant spending notifications. See when and where you’ve spent your money so you can budget better.
- Spending and saving features. Many online accounts offer tools that help you to budget. Some accounts let you top up your savings each time you spend, by rounding up transactions and some let you open more than one savings account. This can make it easier to set savings goals, such as for a deposit on a house or car. You’ll also get more visibility into your payments with your transactions being automatically categorised.
- Rewards. Look out for current accounts that offer incentives for switching to them. Many online banks partner with retailers and have regular money-saving offers. Also, shop around for cashback schemes that reward you as you spend.
Are there any disadvantages?
If you’re planning to open an online current account, it’s important to be aware that there may be certain features which aren’t available to you. Many digital banks don’t offer mortgages or business accounts. By not being able to bundle together such financial products with your current account, you could miss out on lower rates of interest in the future. Be sure to check if there are any account restrictions, such as how many ATM withdrawals you can make a month. Cheque facilities are not usually offered with these types of accounts.
When comparing online current accounts, be aware that your money might not have the same protection as it would with traditional banks. That’s because not every digital bank is licenced in the same way. A good starting point could be to check if a bank has been granted a European banking licence. If you’re unsure, look for information on the bank’s website or ask the bank directly about how your money will be protected.
What else should I look out for in an online current account?
- Interest rate. These tend to vary a lot from one bank to another. Compare plenty of accounts to see where you can find the best interest rates. Some accounts pay bonus interest when you meet specific terms and conditions, such as depositing a minimum amount each month.
- Fees. Many online current accounts don’t have monthly or quarterly maintenance fees. But, read the fine print to make sure you’re aware of any charges that may apply. For example, if you bank with N26 and use your card for ATM transactions more than five times per calendar month, you’ll have to pay €2 each time you make a further withdrawal from an ATM.
- Minimum balance and deposits. Check if there is a minimum deposit required to open an online current account. You should also be aware of any ongoing deposit requirements that may apply, or the need to maintain your balance above a certain level without fees or charges being applied to your account.
How do I open an online current account in Ireland?
A number of banks now let you open an account quickly and easily online. Typically, to start your application you’ll need to:
- Download your chosen bank’s app onto your smartphone
- Add your personal details, including a form of identification and your email address
- You’ll often need to deposit funds into your account to make it active
- You may also need to show proof of address and/or a Tax Reference Number (or PPSN)
- You’ll need to be at least 18 years of age (although AIB does offer basic accounts for those aged 16 and above)
Keep in mind that the process for opening an online account will vary from bank to bank. If you’re switching to open an online current account, it’s likely you’ll need to follow these steps:
- Contact your new bank to tell them you want to switch your current account to them. Your new bank will supply you with all the details you’ll need to make a switch
- Clear your existing overdraft. Do this (if you have one) before you make the switch.
- Decide on a date to switch Try to pick a date when there’s the least amount of regular activity on your account, to reduce the risk that you miss any direct debits
- Complete an account transfer form. This will be sent to you by your new bank. They’ll use this to give your former bank details of any money, direct debits or other regular payments which need to be transferred to your new account
- Your new bank should have opened your account within 10 working days
Don’t forget to confirm with your existing bank whether or not you want to close your account.
What online current accounts are available in Ireland?
There are many online current accounts available in Ireland. These include:
- Revolut. Revolut is a global banking app that offers international currency exchange, budgeting tools, cryptocurrency facilities, virtual cards and more.
- N26. This Germany-based digital bank account lets you save and budget, get cashback and transfer money to other N26 users.
- bunq. A bank account designed for global citizens, bunq lets you create multiple bank accounts with unique IBANs. You can also benefit from savings and budgeting tools, money transfers through TransferWise and no foreign exchange fees.
- EBS. The AIB Bank subsidiary has a MoneyManager account which offers no admin or transaction fees. This account could meet your needs if you’re looking for a more traditional bank.
With the major banks in Ireland now often having some kind of transaction or admin charges on current accounts, it’s a good idea to spend time comparing current accounts online. Our current account comparison service makes it easy to explore a range of different account features and compare them in a matter of minutes.
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