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How to switch current accounts

How to switch current accounts

Category: Banking

Updated: 31/05/2016
First Published: 18/09/2013

Thanks to the new Current Account Switch Service there's never been a better time to consider changing your bank account.

In the past you might have thought that switching would be too much of a hassle, but this completely free service has changed all that - banks involved in the scheme have pledged to complete the switching process in seven days or fewer, and as an added guarantee they'll even refund you any charges or lost interest incurred should things go wrong.

This all means that there's no reason to stick with a bank you're unhappy with. If you're looking for an account that offers extra services, cash incentives or simply a better interest rate, then now's the time to get searching, and we want to help make the process as stress-free as possible. So, here's a quick guide on how to switch so you can reap the rewards that a new current account could bring.

Shop around for the most suitable account

First of all, you need to take time to research the market before committing to a new account as there are plenty of options to choose from. This means performing comparisons is key.

You'll want to look at the features, charges, overdraft facilities and interest rates to decide if the account will suit your financial needs and lifestyle, and see what incentives can be offered, too (some accounts offer the likes of mobile phone and travel insurance as part of a paid-for accounts package, while others will offer up to £125 cashback just for switching).

OK, I've made a decision. How do I switch?

Once you've found a suitable account and have checked that the bank is part of the scheme (those participating will display the Current Account Switch Guarantee Trustmark), you can get things underway.

All you need to do is let the new bank know your intention to switch, provide them with proof of your identify (such as a utility bill, bank statement, passport, driving licence etc.), agree a specific switch date and fill in a couple of forms - a Current Account Switch Agreement form and a Current Account Closure Instruction form - and they'll take it from there.

How long does the switching process take?

Under the new rules, a new current account must be fully operational within seven working days.

Your existing provider is obliged to supply the new bank or building society with any direct debit and standing order details, and once the switch has taken place, any payments coming into or going out of your old account will be automatically redirected for 36 months. Any money remaining in your old account on the switch date will be automatically transferred to the new account, too..

Will I have to pay any charges if errors are made?

No. The Current Account Switch Guarantee is a core part of the scheme and guarantees that, should mistakes be made and penalties incurred (such as charges levied should direct debits be taken from your old account), you'll be completely refunded.

The same applies if you suffer from loss of interest or have any other problems during the switching process.

Plan when you'll switch accounts

Although the Current Account Switch Guarantee will cover you if mistakes occur, it'll make things a lot simpler if you plan your switch date according to when regular payments tend to be made.

If, for example, your standing orders and direct debits leave your account on a certain date each month, it's a good idea to arrange for the switch to take place shortly after. Your agreed switch date will need to be at least seven working days after your new account officially opens.

FAQs

  • Can I switch accounts if I'm overdrawn? Yes, and your new bank may offer ways to help pay off your overdraft (subject to usual lending criteria).
  • Can I change my mind? Yes, but only up to seven working days before the agreed switch date. After that only certain elements can be cancelled.
  • Will I have to pay? No, it's an entirely free service that's been designed by Payments UK (formerly the Payments Council) to make switching quick and simple. Why not take advantage of it?

What next?

Bank Account Search - Find the best bank account for you
Seven security rules to keep online banking safe
Bank Accounts – Key Factors to Consider

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

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