What are basic bank accounts?

What is a fee ­free, basic bank account?

Fee ­free basic bank accounts are designed for people who can’t get a standard current account or can’t use their current bank account due to financial difficulties. You don’t get an overdraft facility, so you can’t get into debt, but you can pay bills by Direct Debit or Standing Order and get a debit card you can use to pay in shops. You can have your money paid in and take it out over the counter or via a cashpoint. Withdrawing money from a cash machine at a bank or Post Office in the UK is usually free, but you may be charged if using private cash machines.

Who can get a free basic bank account?

You must be at least 16 (18 at some banks) and must provide proof of your identity and address to open a basic account. You don’t need to pass a credit check.

How do I open a free basic bank account?

You can usually apply for a basic account in person, by post, by phone or online. You will have to provide official proof of identity before you can open a fee­free basic bank account and proof of your address. Official proof of identity would be a passport or a driver’s license. You may have other documents proving your identity. The bank or building society may accept other documents as proof of identity or address such as an original letter from DWP, HMRC, Job Centre Plus or your local council confirming your right to benefits, including Universal Credit. Otherwise, they may accept a letter confirming who you are from your employer, your college or someone in authority, such as a minister of religion or your doctor. Most banks have a guarantee, called a Current Account Switch Guarantee, which will let you switch accounts within 7 days. They guarantee that your essential direct debits and standing orders are switched over in time so no payments are missed. 

For more information about basic bank accounts download our leaflet here