What Is A Current Account?
A current account is a place to receive money and make payments – an account for managing your day-to-day financial transactions. They are traditionally offered by banks and building societies, but are also available now from digital ‘bank alternatives’.
What Can I Use A Current Account For?
- Receive payments – like your salary or wages, benefits payments or pension
- Pay bills – set up Direct Debits, standing orders or pay by bank transfer
- Withdraw cash – from ATMs or over the counter
- A debit card – use this to make withdrawals or pay for goods and services online, over the phone or in person
- A cheque book – some current accounts come with a cheque book for making payments by cheque
- An authorised overdraft – this is an agreed limit with your current account provider that you can borrow from the bank, if you have no available funds in your account. It is usually costly to go overdrawn, so this should only really be used in emergencies.
- Online or printed statements – view your transaction history
Different Types Of Current Account
There are several different types of current account:
Standard – these are the main type of current account. They are usually free and come with a debit card, cheque book and an overdraft facility.
Basic – basic current accounts are a pared-down version of the standard current account. They are often for customers with poor credit ratings, so come without an overdraft or cheque book.
Student – student current accounts often come with an interest-free overdraft facility, which means you’ll pay 0% interest on your overdraft while you’re a student. Some also come with other perks such as rail and coach cards, vouchers, entertainment subscriptions and cashback.
Reward – these current accounts offer incentives like cashback at selected retailers, cashback on bills, or free breakdown cover. Reward current accounts usually come with a monthly fee, but this may be waived if you’re paying a minimum amount into your account each month.
Packaged – these are current accounts with a monthly fee which include packages of insurances like breakdown cover, travel or mobile phone insurance or cashback on bills.
Premium – if you’re lucky enough to be a high-earner (usually bringing in £75,000 + a year), premium current accounts offer a whole range of perks. They’re usually free and you could get special rates on savings, mortgages and loans, free or discounted travel insurance, concierge service, or an interest-free overdraft.
How To Choose A Current Account
Here are a few tips for choosing a current account:
- Think about how you want to manage your account – do you need to be able to nip into a branch? Or would you rather manage everything on your mobile?
- Look at the fees – often you’ll earn back or save more than you spend with a reward account, but it’s important to compare fees and consider that some current accounts are free and other come with a monthly charge
- Don’t be seduced by the perks – don’t choose your current account just because of the perks… if the perks are going to save you £££s then great, but make sure the account suits your day-to-day needs
- Interest rates – current accounts usually offer low or no interest, but you can still shop around for the best deal – this is especially useful if your account it usually in credit or you have a high balance.
- Overdraft fees – if you’re likely to need an overdraft, you can save yourself money by selecting a current account with lower overdraft fees
Almost anyone can get a current account of some form. There may be some restrictions if you are under 18, have bad credit history or criminal convictions for fraud or financial crime.
How To Apply
Applying for a current account is very simple – you’ll have to provide your details and proof of address and identity. You can usually open a current account with a nominal amount of money, such as £1.
Opening some types of current account requires a credit check.
Switching Your Current Account
You might be offered a cash incentive or more favourable rates for switching your current account provider. This is moving from your existing current account provider to a new one, and closing your old account.
It is easy to switch using CASS – the Current Account Switch Service. You choose your new provider and they’ll do all the hard work for you. With CASS all your Direct Debits and standing orders will be moved over for you, and your employer will be told to pay your salary into your new account.
It’s a guaranteed service, so, if anything goes wrong, you won’t have to pay.
- Almost anyone can get one
- Choice of accounts to meet your needs
- Manage your daily finances
- Make and receive payments
- Debit or cash card
- Access an overdraft
- Low or no interest
- Can have costly overdraft fees
- Some current accounts require a credit check
Can I open a current account with a partner?
Yes, you can open a joint current account.
Should I put my savings in a current account?
Not usually. Current accounts are different to savings accounts and usually have lower interest rates making them less suitable for savings.
Will I be able to manage my current account online?
Most current account providers now offer online banking so you can view your statements and carry out your banking online.