Banks and building societies have hundreds of different types of accounts available. Some offer Basic Bank Accounts that can help you manage your money.

What are Basic Bank Accounts? 

A fee-free Basic Bank Account allows you to receive money and pay bills. It can be a first step towards opening a regular current account later on.

With most Basic Bank Accounts you can:

  • Have your wages, benefits or tax credits paid directly into your account
  • Pay in cheques for free (but you will have to wait a few days before the money is available for you to spend)
  • Withdraw money at cash machines with a cash card (this is usually free, but some convenience cash machines make a charge)
  • Make cash withdrawals at Post Offices

To help decide which would be the best account for you, you’ll need to compare the different features and decide which ones are important to you. None of them ask for a minimum amount to open an account.

Why choose a Basic Bank Account?

Basic Bank Accounts are designed for people who may have difficulty in getting other bank accounts because of age, low income or credit problems. Those not wishing to get into debt often prefer these accounts as you cannot become overdrawn.

Basic Bank Accounts do not normally provide an overdraft facility and do not offer a cheque book or multi-function cheque guarantee cards.

Almost all Basic Bank Accounts offer the facility for Direct Debits and Standing Orders. Almost all banks will make a charge for Direct Debits and Standing Orders which aren’t paid because you don’t have enough money in your account to pay them. Banks may cancel Direct Debits and Standing Orders - and may even close accounts - if you don’t have enough money in your account to pay them on more than one occasion.

How do I open a Basic Bank Account?

When you have decided which type of account to open, you will need to obtain an application form from the bank or building society.

Most banks and building societies will help you to complete the form, or you can go to your nearest Connexions Centre where a Personal Adviser can help. When you have completed the form, you will need to return it with your proof of identity and proof of address.

You must have two separate proofs, eg, a driving licence can be used as proof of either identity or address, but cannot be used for both. Many of the banks have different approaches to their identification requirements for younger people. Don’t be persuaded to open an account you don’t think you’d be able to manage.

Some groups (including but not limited to benefit claimants, refugees, asylum seekers, people on probation and Travellers) may need to produce specific types of identification.

Those with a record of fraud, who are undischarged bankrupt or, in some cases, have a record of bad debts, may have their application declined.

Always check with the bank or building society of your choice to find out their exact requirements for proof of identity and/or address.

For more information

For more help and information, visit the Money Advice Service website.