How to check your balance
Keeping track of your account balance can help you avoid fees for going into your overdraft, plan for the rest of the month and look out for fraudulent transactions.
You can do this by:
Signing in to internet or mobile banking
Setting up text alerts to keep you informed of your balance
Checking your statement, which you can get by post or online
Asking in a branch
Phoning your bank
Checking it at a cash machine
How to use internet and mobile banking
Most banks let you run your account using their website or mobile app. This lets you:
Make a one off payment to a person or company
Check your balance
Move money between your own accounts
Set up, change or cancel direct debits and standing orders[
Report a missing card
Send a secure message to your bank
How to make payments and spend money
You can spend, transfer or withdraw the money in your account in the following ways:
Set up direct debits and standing orders
These go out regularly; for example on the first day of every month or every three months. Here is how to set them up and how they work.
You can use them to make payments to:
Another current or savings account in your name
Another person's account
Make sure there is enough money in your account to pay your standing orders and direct debits because you may be charged a fee if not.
Send a bank transfer to someone else
You can pay another person or a company by making a one off bank transfer.
Funds are usually sent as a faster payment, which is a type of bank transfer that usually takes less than two hours to arrive.
The easiest way to do this is usually by using internet or mobile banking, but you could also set it up:
By writing to your bank
In a branch
You need to provide your bank with:
The amount you want to send
The name of the company or person you want to pay
Their six digit sort code
Their account number, which is usually eight digits
The reference that goes with your payment
If you pay a company, they usually tell you what to use as the reference. If you pay a person, use your own name as the reference, or something else that lets them know what the payment is for.
You could also use a service called Paym to send money from your mobile phone to another person's bank account. Here is how to do this.
Transfer money between your accounts
If you want to send money to a current or savings account you hold with another bank or building society, the process is the same as transferring money to someone else.
However, if you have a savings account with the same bank, you may be able instantly move funds between your accounts. You could use internet or mobile banking, phone your bank or visit a branch.
Use your card
Most banks offer a debit card you can use to make purchases in the following ways:
In person in a shop, restaurant or other business
When shopping online
Using mail order
If you shop online, by phone or by mail order, you need to provide the 16 digit number and the expiry date on the front of your card.
You may also need the issue date and issue number from the front of the card, and the CCV, which is a three digit number on the signature strip on the back of the card.
If you pay in person, you can put your debit card into the card reader and then enter your PIN to confirm the transaction.
Many banks now also offer contactless and mobile phone payments to make smaller transactions quicker.
Here is how to use your debit card safely to keep your money and bank account secure.
Some accounts come with a prepaid card instead of a debit card. Here is how prepaid bank accounts work.
You can use the debit card, prepaid card or cash card that comes with your account to take out cash from an ATM.
Insert your card into the cash machine
Enter your PIN
Check your balance if required
Choose how much cash you need
Remove your card and the cash from the machine
Most banks send your PIN by post when they issue your card. If you do not know your PIN, ask them to send you a new one. You can change it at any time at a cash machine or through internet banking.
Write a cheque
If you have a cheque book, you can still pay bills by cheque, although many shops do not accept them any more.
How to use your overdraft
If your bank account has an overdraft, you can borrow money when your account has nothing left in it.
Overdrafts let you borrow for free if you have one with no interest and fees and you stay in its limit. However, they can be very expensive if you are charged for using them.
How to pay money into your account
Pay in cash
You can pay in cash by taking it into your nearest branch to use their counter, self service machine or an ATM that accepts cash deposits.
Your bank may need you to fill your details and the amount you are paying in on a form called a remittance slip before you hand over your cash. You need to put it in one of their envelopes if you pay it in using a machine.
The amount should then be added to your account immediately. Some banks also let you pay in cash at a Post Office if you do not have a branch near you.
Pay in a cheque
You can pay in a cheque by:
Taking it into your local branch
Posting it to your bank
Using special cash machines that offer self service banking
Receive payments by bank transfer
A company or another person can send money to your bank account. You just need to let them know:
The name on your account
Your six digit sort code
Your account number
These details should all be on your statements and when you sign in to online banking.
You can also receive money into your account by just giving the other person your mobile number if they use a service called Paym. Here is how Paym works.
How to update your details
You need to let your bank know if your personal details change, including your:
Phone number or email
Some banks let you update these through internet banking or by phone. Some need you to complete forms or provide identification or a marriage certificate, which can be easiest to sort in a branch or by post.
Ask your bank what they need from you to update their records.
How to close your account
You can close your bank account at any time, but you need to pay off your overdraft first if you owe money on it. You can ask your bank to close your account:
In a branch
Online through internet banking
By writing to them
If you already have another bank account, you can have your wages paid into it and move your direct debits and standing orders over.
Switch to a new account
If you want to close your bank account and get one with a new bank or building society, you can quickly switch in seven days.
Your account balance or overdraft will be moved to the new account along with future salary payments and any direct debits or standing orders.