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How to get a bank account with bad credit

If you have a bad credit score you may be worried about finding a bank account happy to accept you. Basic bank accounts and guaranteed bank accounts are specifically designed to help those that may struggle to get a traditional bank account. Find out more and compare the best basic and guaranteed bank accounts in the tables below.  

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The best guaranteed and basic bank accounts

Michelle Monck

Michelle Monck

Consumer Finance Expert

Can you open a bank account with bad credit?

Opening a bank account usually requires a credit check and each bank will have its own requirements as to the types of customers and credit profiles that they will accept. If you have serious defaults, CCJs or have been bankrupt, then you may find it harder to be accepted for a standard bank account. Basic bank accounts are available from 15 UK banks and usually only require a credit check in order to identify you.

Another alternative is guaranteed bank accounts, which are card-based accounts that offer banking services. They too are more lenient on accepting those with lower credit scores compared to a standard bank account. Guaranteed bank accounts are available from fintech companies and not banks. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and have to operate to UK regulations, but if they fail, they are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and this might place your money at risk or delay you being able to access it.


If you don’t want to go to a bank or be left alone online or with an app with a guaranteed bank account, then some credit unions offer guaranteed bank accounts with branch or telephone support.

What is the best bank account for someone with bad credit?

If you have a poor credit score and need to open a bank account or switch your bank account, then your main options are either a basic bank account or a guaranteed bank account. Choosing which one will depend on how you want to use your bank account, for example those needing to bank with a local branch can do this with a basic bank account from a high street bank but not with a guaranteed bank account. A big factor is if you want to pay any fees for your banking services, as basic bank accounts come with little or no fees while guaranteed bank accounts can charge for certain transactions and have a monthly fee.

Compare guaranteed bank accounts

There are approximately 1.3 million adults in the UK that do not have a bank account, according to the Financial Conduct Authority.. Many of these are worried about being accepted for a bank account due to their credit score. Guaranteed and basic bank accounts have been designed to help those with poor credit scores and provide them with a range of banking services. 

 

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Provider Account fee Interest rate (AER) Features Learn more

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£4.97 per month

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Activeplus

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Premium Plus Current Account

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Current Account

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 thinkmoney Managed Current Account

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The list of bank account providers on this page is a selection of services available and gives you an idea of the kind of options available. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting any of the providers listed. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts.co.uk will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts.co.uk recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

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What is a basic bank account?

A basic bank account is designed specifically to help those that find it hard to open a standard bank account, for example if they have had previous credit problems or a low credit rating. Basic bank accounts do not require a credit check, other than for proving your identity. They are available from 15 UK banks and are a cheap way to get banking services.


A basic bank account is very simple and allows you to have money paid in from your benefits and/or wages, pay bills with direct debits and standing orders and the use of a contactless debit card. However, it is not possible to get an arranged overdraft with a basic bank account. Most importantly, they have no fees to open or operate the account and many also do not charge fees for refused payments.

Six basic bank account facts

1. Basic bank accounts do not need a credit check

A basic bank account only requires a soft credit check in order to help the bank check your identity.

2. Basic bank accounts have little or no fees

A basic bank account does not charge you to operate your account or for services such as direct debits or standing orders. Many also do not charge for failed payments, but you do need to still manage your account carefully as it is possible the bank could close it if they believed it was being misused. 

3. You do need ID to open a basic bank account

You will need to have ID to prove your identity and current address to open a basic bank account. If this can’t be done electronically, usually this will include a valid passport, drivers’ licence, utility letters, benefit letters, council tax bill or HMRC tax notifications. Banks must satisfactorily identify all those opening a bank account in order to meet money laundering laws. These laws help to prevent fraudsters using the UK banking system for their own gains. If you cannot be identified to the required level, then the bank will not be able to open your account. This is not the bank being difficult but protecting itself from the risk of fines and even prosecution under the money laundering laws. Banks are, however, required to be as flexible as they can to identify prospective customers, so people are not excluded from the financial system unnecessarily.
There are two exceptions, with HSBC and Halifax now offering very specific bank accounts for those with no fixed address or being released from prison. Find out more about the HSBC scheme in conjunction with Shelter and other UK and local charities for those with no fixed address and the Halifax scheme for those being released from prison in conjunction with Unlock. 

4. You don’t usually earn interest on a basic bank account

Because the bank is not charging you fees to operate this account, they also don’t offer any interest on your balances. However, if you are starting to save money for an emergency fund or a rainy day, you can open a savings account instead and earn interest on your money.

5. Basic bank accounts are designed to stop you from getting into debt

Basic bank accounts do not offer arranged overdrafts as their aim is to help you sort your finances rather than adding to any debts. If you find you have got your budgeting wrong one month and a set payment from your account will make you overdrawn, some basic bank accounts will allow this to happen and include a fee-free grace period for you to return your account back into credit. Our charts shows which banks offer grace periods on unarranged overdrafts.

6. Basic bank accounts are not only for those with bad credit

A basic bank account can also help young people that may not yet have a credit history and need the services offered by a bank account. Basic bank accounts are available to those over the age of 18 irrespective of whether they have a good or bad credit score. 

Basic bank accounts without a credit check

The largest nine bank account providers are obliged under The Payment Accounts Regulations 2015 to offer basic bank accounts that are free for day-to-day operations. Currently, there are 15 banks offering basic bank accounts.

Bank or building society

Name of account

Bank of Ireland UK

Basic Cash Account

Bank of Scotland

Basic Account

Barclays Bank

Basic Current Account

Halifax

Basic Account

HSBC

Basic Bank Account

Lloyds Bank

Basic Account

Metro Bank

Cash Account

Nationwide BS

FlexBasic

NatWest

Foundation

Royal Bank of Scotland

Foundation

Santander

Basic Current Account

The Co-operative Bank

Cashminder

TSB

Cash Account

Ulster Bank

Foundation Account

Virgin Money

M Account

See full details here.

Basic bank account FAQs

Can I be refused a basic bank account?

A bank may refuse to open a basic bank account for you if they cannot identify you correctly. This is because they must by law be satisfied that anyone opening a bank account is doing so for legitimate and legal purposes. You should not be refused a basic bank account due to your credit score.

How do I apply for a basic bank account?

Applying for a basic bank account is the same as a standard bank account. You will need to complete a form either online, by phone or in branch depending on the requirements of the bank and provide ID. Read our guide and find out the ID required to open a bank account.

Are there any risks with basic bank accounts?

Basic bank accounts are designed to be very low risk, with limitations on being able to go overdrawn and usually no fees for failed payments.

Moneyfacts tip

Moneyfacts tip Michelle Monck

If you want to use your basic bank account to send money abroad or to make purchases when overseas, you should check the costs of these first. You may find a foreign exchange broker or a prepaid travel card might offer a better exchange rate and lower fees.

What is a guaranteed bank account?

A guaranteed bank account does not require a credit check and if you can prove your identity, opening an account is guaranteed. All guaranteed bank accounts include a debit card and nearly all offer direct debits and standing orders. They usually come with an app to help you manage your account and day-to-day spending. Most guaranteed bank accounts do not offer an arranged overdraft and will not allow you to accidentally go overdrawn.

What is the difference between a guaranteed bank account and a basic bank account?

Guaranteed bank accounts and basic bank accounts both operate to similar principles of accepting those with poor credit scores and providing a range of day-to-day banking services. 
  • Guaranteed bank accounts have different fees

Guaranteed bank accounts generally charge management and transaction fees, while basic bank accounts do not.

  • Your money is protected differently using a guaranteed bank account
Guaranteed bank accounts are provided by fintech firms and operate under eMoney and Payment Services regulations. This means they are authorised by the FCA and must operate to the standards set out in regulation. However, unlike a basic bank account offered by a bank, guaranteed bank accounts are not authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). This means that any money in a guaranteed bank account is not protected by the FSCS and if the firm failed, your money could be at risk or access to these funds delayed. Guaranteed bank account providers must keep the money of their account-holders in ring-fenced accounts to keep these separate to the funds of the guaranteed bank account provider. 

 

Bad credit bank account FAQs

Can I get a debit card without a bank account?

Yes, there are debit cards available that can be opened and used without having a separate bank account – these cards are called guaranteed bank accounts. Traditional debit cards pull funds from a separate bank account, however cards issued under a guaranteed bank account have funds loaded directly to them but usually also offer the flexibility of direct debits if required. 

Can you get an overdraft with bad credit?

Every bank has its own view on the customers they are happy to give an overdraft to. If you have a bad credit score, you may find it harder to get a standard bank account with an overdraft. In this case, you may find more success by opening one of the basic bank accounts with an arranged overdraft. These accounts are aimed at those with a poor credit score and therefore the bank may be more tolerant of your past issues with credit.

How can I improve my credit rating to get a better bank account?

You can start to improve your credit score by consistently paying back any existing debt on time. Read our guide to get the step by step instructions to improving your credit score. You should also monitor your credit score to see how this changes over time.  

 

Find out how to send money abroad easily, securely and quickly using an international money transfer specialist. Our guide explains how it works and the costs involved.

 

Moneyfacts tip

Moneyfacts tip Michelle Monck

The self-employed or those with a small business that have a poor credit history can also open a business guaranteed bank account.

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