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How to switch banks in Ireland
You might save money by switching banks and the process is easier than you think.
If you’re unhappy with your current bank account, don’t put up with it. You may think it will be a huge headache switching banks. However, it’s easy to make a bank account switch and we’ll explain how.
Is it easy to switch banks in Ireland?
In Ireland, banks and financial institutions all need to comply with The Central Bank of Ireland’s switching code and cooperate with one another in order to help customers switch bank accounts in a quick and easy manner. If you decide to switch bank accounts, you should find the process simple and straightforward.
How do I change bank accounts?
Although each bank will have its own procedures for switching bank accounts, the process is largely the same and should involve the following steps.
Step 1. Shop around for a new bank account and choose a new financial institution, whether it be a traditional bank, digital bank or credit union. When you’ve chosen a good deal, apply for a new account in-branch or online.
Step 2. Complete a bank switching form from your current bank. This will include information about accounts being offered to new customers as well as details of what you need to do.
Step 3. Your new bank will go ahead and send your completed switching bank accounts form to your old bank.
Step 4. Your old bank will contact all the institutions you currently have direct debits and standing orders with to update them about your new bank account details. Your old bank will also share a list of these institutions with your new bank.
Step 5. Your new bank account should now be up and running. All direct debits and standing orders to institutions will now be transferred out of your new bank account. And because of the switching code, your bank account switch should be completed within 10 days.
Step 6. Once your new bank account is live and ready to use, just remember to update any contacts or companies that regularly pay you, such as your employer, with your new bank details to ensure you’re correctly paid. You’ll also need to update online shopping sites or apps that have your old bank account details saved as the default.
Do I need to close my old bank account?
Once you’ve opened your new account, don’t forget to close your old one. Although the old bank account may have no money in it, the bank could still charge you fees to maintain the account if it is left open. Close your old account once:
- All your direct debits and standing orders have been successfully moved over.
- All institutions are aware of your new card and account numbers.
- You’ve collated your list of personal payees from your old account.
Closing your old account is a relatively hassle-free process. However, you may need to visit a branch to close the account. Contact the bank to check what the process is.
What should I be aware of before switching bank accounts?
Before you decide to switch bank accounts, you need to be sure about what you’re signing up for. Consider the following:
- Strict terms and conditions
Many banks impose a range of complex terms and conditions to new bank accounts. Read these carefully to ensure you’ll benefit from any introductory offers or cashback rewards.
You need to be wary of any maintenance or transaction fees attached to the new account you open. For example, you may be charged a monthly account fee, or a fee for making a withdrawal. Get to know what fees you’ll face for day-to-day transactions to ensure you’re happy to pay them and you won’t have any nasty surprises down the line.
- Minimum balance requirements
Are there any bank account balance restrictions? For example, you may be required to keep a certain amount in your account at all times, or perhaps you’re required to make a minimum deposit each month.
- Deposit and withdrawal requirements
Some accounts include conditions that you must satisfy in order to qualify for the account benefits. For example, you may have to deposit a minimum amount each month or have a minimum number of direct debits set up.
The terms, conditions and fees that often apply to bank accounts mean that it’s not really possible to switch on a whim. Instead, you’ll need to put in some hard work to research the restrictions and fees that apply to each account, as getting an unexpected charge or not qualifying for a particular cashback reward could hurt your bank balance.
- New customers only (that is, you’ve never held the account before)
A common restriction with introductory bank accounts offers is that benefits might only be available to new customers. This will stop you from switching to a bank with which you already have an account. A limit of one account per customer might also apply.
- Non-monetary considerations with your new bank.
Besides the interest rates and fees, there are many other aspects you may wish to consider. How many ATMs does it have? Does the bank offer mobile banking through an app? How can you contact the bank if there’s a problem? Compile a set of questions and then double-check that your preferred new bank can meet your financial needs.
What key features do the best bank account in Ireland have?
Depending on your own financial needs and lifestyle, there are plenty of bank accounts to choose from in Ireland. But a bank account that might be perfect for others might not be so perfect for you. Take a look at some of the key features below that we think are important:
- Zero or low fees. You don’t want to be stung with high maintenance or transaction fees so search for an account that has low fees, or even better, no fees.
- Discounts and rewards. Some bank accounts offer a range of cashback rewards or discounts on purchases, mortgage payments or bills. These are becoming more widespread across bank accounts in Ireland so see which ones appeal to you most.
- Overdraft. An overdraft can be extremely useful to help keep you ticking over until your next salary or wages arrive, especially if there’s an unexpected bill to pay. An overdraft limit may be set by the bank but remember that there will normally be a fee associated with an overdraft facility. If there is a charge, find out what it is.
- Better rates or deals. You may be able to access better interest rates for a personal loan or a mortgage if you already hold a bank account with the institution. This might be worthwhile if you’re thinking about borrowing in the future.
- Mobile payments. Some banks will give you access to setting up mobile payments with your current account with the likes of Apple Pay, Google Pay or Fitbit Pay.
- No foreign transaction fees. Paying for items in anything but euros will usually lead to extra fees. However, some bank accounts won’t charge you for these transactions.
Switching banks doesn’t have to leave your head in a spin. While it’s simple to make the switch, (your new bank will take care of this for you) you’ll want to do some research and compare what’s on offer to find the right bank account to meet your financial needs.
Your new bank will handle all your direct debits and standing orders but you’ll need to update your employer and anyone else that pays you directly. You’ll also need to update any shopping sites or apps that have your old bank details saved as a default.
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