When it comes to switching banks accounts reward and the ease of making the transfer should be your two biggest considerations for choosing between banks and their offerings.
Many banks when you switch bank accounts reward you with a cash 'welcome bonus' running into hundreds of pounds; and even better, the biggest banks are all bringing in dedicated switching services to do the hard work for you.
However, switching banks only makes sense if you'll be offered a service that's at least comparable to your existing account. You have to use your new bank for your main account, which means transferring your salary.
What's more, it's no use switching current accounts to chase the rewards offered only to find that you'll be paying expensive overdraft fees and other charges. We show you how to find a bank account worth switching to:
How to switch current account
First of all, decide what you like about your existing bank, and remember the features you'd like to keep when you change bank account. These should be the first things you look for in a new account.
Next, check what rewards are offered (e.g. £100 cash after 3 months) and prioritise them according to which will give you the most value.
Of course, you must also make sure you'd be eligible and exclude any account where you might miss out. To do this, consider the minimum monthly credit, and make sure you can afford it. Some banks demand that the minimum monthly credit is in the form of salary, while others are less strict so you can get around it by withdrawing and re-depositing any shortfall.
You'll also need to compare the overdraft facility attached to each account, and the longer you tend to stay in your overdraft the more important a cheap service is likely to be.
Check each overdraft's interest rate, standard and/or daily charges and any interest free facility available. Remember to compare this against your existing bank account and look at how it will fit with your monthly finances.
Consider if your account balance would be eligible to earn interest (and if so, at what rate?). If your account has a positive balance for most if not all of each month, this sort of incentive can prove every bit as profitable over a longer period as a high interest savings account.
Next, consider how you'd be able to manage the account - whether that's by telephone, in branch, online or a combination of all three. Choosing the option that's right for you can make it significantly easier to resolve any problems that arise and manage your account on an ongoing basis.
Once you've prioritised what you need from your new account on a day to day basis, you can narrow your search to those specific banks who can offer an account to suit. Then, compare the rewards offered when you switch bank account and apply direct to get the ball rolling.
Your 7 day account switch
All banks should now abide by new Payments Council rules in handling your bank account switch, although their actual switching services will still be run in-house.
This means your transfer to a new bank account should be even faster and easier, with 7 day switching available.
Once you've identified the account you want, simply choose its start date (there's a minimum 7 day switch period) and complete two forms - one to close your old account, the other to open the new one.
Your new bank or building society will let you know when the account transfer begins and completes, plus they'll move across all your incoming and outgoing payments for you.
7 day current account switching will reimburse you for any lost interest or penalties incurred if the switch misses a direct debit or standing order, and you can run your old account as normal throughout the transfer (even while the 7 day switching service works).
Finally, any payments made in error to your old account will be redirected to your new account for a period of 36 months from your switch's completion date.