What do I need to open a bank account?
Opening a high-street bank account is a simple process. You’ll need the following:
- Personal details (including full name, nationality, date of birth, contact details, national insurance number)
- Proof of identity (like your passport or driving licence)
- Proof of address (you can use a recent utility bill, bank statement or council tax bill)
Depending on the bank and the option you’re going for, what you need can differ. For instance, with challenger banks like Monzo all you need is a photo ID and a smartphone.
However, with other banks you may need to go into a branch to finalise the details before you can join. Generally with high street banks and building societies you need to provide the following:
What bank accounts can I get?
First things first, let’s take a look at the different types of accounts on offer. There are a whole host of options which are designed to suit different customers’ needs.
- Current accounts. From basic to specialised, these are best for managing your everyday finances.
- International bank accounts. This type is worth looking at if you’re moving abroad.
- Student accounts. Aimed at university students, these tend to come with perks and interest free overdrafts.
- Graduate accounts. Designed to ease graduates into the working world.
- Savings accounts. These let you set aside money and earn interest.
- Tax-free savings (ISAs). A savings account that lets you earn a certain amount of interest tax free.
- Joint accounts. Share an account with a partner, a relative or friends and manage your finances together.
How can I compare bank accounts?
In the above section we’ve given you a breakdown of the different accounts out there. However, these aren’t hard and fast rules. Some current accounts actually pay better interest rates than some savings accounts for example.
Below, we look at a few of the key features to look out for when choosing a bank account.
- Switch incentives. Some banks offer big cash incentives, or vouchers and deals in an attempt to win you over. If that’s what you’re after, this is a key thing to look out for.
- Easy to use app. There are a whole host of digital banks that make managing and sending money simple with stylish and practical apps.
- Interest. Shop around as some current accounts offer better interest rates than savings accounts.
- Overdrafts. If you’re liable to go into your overdraft make sure to keep costs down by finding an account that won’t give you a big fine.
- Fees abroad. Challenger banks like Monzo and Revolut typically offer accounts with better exchange fees than traditional institutions.
How to switch bank accounts
There can be some major benefits to switching bank accounts. Often you can get better interest rates by transferring to a different savings account provider.
For anyone looking to change their basic current accounts, the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) will essentially do all the leg work for you. Well, your new bank will at least.
If they’re part of the scheme then they have to close your old account, move your balance and switch your payments.
How to close a bank account
You should be able to close most banks accounts pretty easily and free of charge.
The exception to this rule is fixed-term savings accounts. With some of these you will be charged for early withdrawal, or you may not even be able to access your money at all until the fixed term is ended.
However, generally it’s simply a case of getting in touch with your bank or building society.
If you have an overdraft then you’ll have to settle this before closing the account.
Frequently asked questions
Ask an Expert