If you need an overdraft
Choosing an account with the right overdraft is important if:
You need to use your bank account to borrow money in the short term
You spend more money than you have some months
If you go into the red on an account that has no overdraft or go over your limit, you have to pay several expensive overdraft fees.
Choosing an account with a big enough overdraft can make borrowing money cheaper or even free.
If you always have money in your account
If you usually have a positive balance and do not need an overdraft, you could get:
A high interest account that pays you interest on your balance, usually monthly or annually
A reward current account that gives you benefits in return for your spending, like cashback when you use your debit card
Some current accounts come with higher interest rates than savings accounts, but they usually limit the balance they pay interest on. Here is how to work out if a savings account or current account is right for you.
If you want extras with your account
Packaged bank accounts come with a monthly fee but also offer extra financial products bundled with them, including:
Mobile phone insurance
Home contents insurance
You could save money and time if you find one with extras you need, but they can sometimes work out more expensive than getting cover separately. Here is how to work out if a packaged account suits you.
If you share an account with someone else
Joint accounts can be opened with more than one person named on them.
They let you share money and pay bills from one account, so they can be useful for couples or housemates who pay bills between them.
Some banks only allow transactions if they are approved by everyone named on the account. However, most allow anyone to make withdrawals, set up bill payments or make changes to the account. This means you should only share a joint account with someone you trust.
If you have bad credit
Basic and prepaid bank accounts offer less features than other current accounts but could accept you even if you have bad credit.
Their providers do not run a credit check when you apply, but you need to be able to prove your identity and have a permanent address in the UK.
They do not offer overdrafts, so you can only spend money you have already paid into the account. However, you can:
Have your wages paid in
Withdraw cash and make payments using the prepaid card that comes with them
Set up direct debits and standing orders to pay bills
If you are under 18 or a student
If you are under 18
There are many bank accounts that children and teenagers can open, and they offer most of the same features as adult bank accounts, including:
Receiving payments like wages or bank transfers into your account
Paying for things or withdrawing cash using a card
Paying bills by direct debit or standing order
They do not offer overdrafts and come with different age limits, but you should be able to find an account if you are over 11.
If you are in full time education
Student current accounts offer a range of freebies like cheaper train tickets, gift vouchers, discount cards and cash rewards.
They usually come with an interest free overdraft that lets you borrow money for free while you are studying.
Picking the best overdraft could save you more money than the freebies you can get are worth.
Student overdrafts are usually interest free for several years, so you can pay them back after you finish your course.
If you run a business or charity
If you look after the finances of a business or a charity, you could open a current account to receive incoming funds and make payments out to cover things like bills.
Instead of opening an account in your own name, you can instead open a:
This helps you keep track of your business' or charity's money, and keeps it separate from your own income, spending and tax.
If you want to use your account online
Most bank accounts can be accessed and managed online, which allows you to:
Transfer money between your accounts
Check your balance or statement
Send money to other people
Pay bills to companies
Send secure messages to your bank
Online banking is available 24 hours a day and is useful if you are unable to get to your bank's branches during their opening hours.