What do I need to do to open a bank account? | moneyfacts.co.uk

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Michelle Monck

Michelle Monck

Consumer Finance Expert
Published: 22/07/2021

At a glance

  • To open a bank account in the UK you’ll need to provide your personal details and proof of address/identity, and will normally be subject to a credit check.
  • If you want to switch bank accounts – perhaps to take advantage of lucrative switching deals – you should use the Current Account Switch Service for ease.
  • Yet it all starts with finding the best bank account in the first place, which is why comparing the options is key.

How do I open a bank account?

If you’re considering opening a new current account, your first step should always be comparing the best bank accounts to find the one that suits your needs. Then, once you’ve compared the options and decided on your new account, your next step is opening it, which will require you to contact the bank and apply directly. Many banks allow you to apply online, though you can often apply by phone or in person too, and sometimes by post as well (and even if you apply by phone or online, some banks will require you to send copies of documents via post or by taking them into a branch if you can’t send them digitally).

 

During the application process you’ll normally have to provide personal information that includes your name, contact details, date of birth, nationality, occupation, income and national insurance number, together with proof of address (such as a utility bill) and proof of identity (normally a driving licence or passport). You’ll probably be subject to a credit check, too, which may only be for identity purposes but could also be to check your financial status if you’re applying for an overdraft. If this is the case, you may want to check your credit score in advance, and see if you can improve your score if it isn’t quite up to scratch.

How can I switch current accounts?

If you’re specifically looking to switch current accounts, rather than open a new account independently – perhaps to take advantage of better in-credit interest rates, lower overdraft fees or lucrative switching incentives – you should aim to go through the Current Account Switch Service. Doing so can streamline the process and guarantees that the switch will take place in seven working days or less, and crucially, should anything go wrong and you’re facing additional charges or interest, you’ll be refunded. Find out more about how to switch current accounts.

Can I open a bank account online?

Typically speaking, yes, you’ll be able to open a bank account online. The vast majority of banks offer the convenience of online applications, though some will still insist that you bring your ID into a branch for them to make copies. However there are some digital-only banks – such as Starling and Monzo – that operate entirely online and/or via mobile app, so if online capability is important to you, they could be well worth considering. Find out more about the best digital-only banks.

How to find the best banks accounts in the UK

The best way to find the bank account that’s going to meet your needs is to compare the options. You’ll need to consider which kind of account you’re looking for – for example, do you want an account that comes with an overdraft, a packaged account, one with high rates of in-credit interest, or perhaps a basic bank account if your credit history is lacking? – and from there you’ll need to consider the options available. Our charts can be one of the best ways to compare current accounts, so should always be the first port of call.

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.

At a glance

  • To open a bank account in the UK you’ll need to provide your personal details and proof of address/identity, and will normally be subject to a credit check.
  • If you want to switch bank accounts – perhaps to take advantage of lucrative switching deals – you should use the Current Account Switch Service for ease.
  • Yet it all starts with finding the best bank account in the first place, which is why comparing the options is key.

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