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A current account is the most fundamental component of personal finance.

It's the account that lets you carry out your regular banking transactions. From having your salary deposited, and withdrawing cash, to setting up direct debits and standing orders, all are carried out through your current account.

Why switch your current account?

If you're not happy with your existing current account, or if a bank is offering a cash or reward incentive, it might be worth switching your current account.
By checking out the current account switch offers, you'll be able to see whether a current account with a different bank could be better for you. Another bank might have lower overdraft fees or higher interest rates. And you might get rewarded for switching banks, with something like cinema tickets or offers in your favourite shops.

To find the best current account for your needs, you need to know what you need from your current account.

You'll then need to think about the different types of current account providers out there, and the different benefits they offer.

You can open current accounts from traditional high street banks or building societies. Or you could choose to do online banking with a current account from an online-only or app-based bank. These are still relatively new to the market and changing quickly.

Here are some of the features different kinds of banks offer. Before you start looking at current account switch offers and finding the best current accounts, UK wide, that suit your needs, it'll be helpful to look at these.

Digital-only banks

Digital banks, or app-based banks are a relatively new innovation that have sprung up in that few years. Many of these banks have no physical branch and exist as smartphone apps and offer a slew of digital features such as:

Mobile app banking: App-based banks make it easy to access your UK current account, because they have a digital-first approach. With internet banking, you don't usually get a face-to-face service, but you do often get 24-hour customer support.

Zero monthly account fees: Most of the time, online current accounts will be fee-free. This means you won't have to pay any fees for using the current account, as long as you don't go into a negative balance.

Instant account setup: Everything's done online with an online current account. That means you can set it up whenever you want and wherever you are.

No minimum monthly pay-in: If you already have a UK current account you could open an app-only account too. You could use both at the same time to try out some of the benefits of app-based banking.

Traditional banks and building societies: Most traditional banks offer online banking. This means you can manage your UK current account online as an online account. But there's also a high street bank locally where you can talk to someone in person.

Minimum monthly payment: Traditional current accounts need you to pay a set amount each month. This is usually from your salary, or your pension.

Interest on balance: Some current accounts may offer interest on any positive balance you maintain in your current account.

Account rewards: The very best current accounts might charge an extra fee for more benefits, such as insurance or breakdown cover.

The comparison table above lets you compare current accounts. It's a great place to look if you think you might want to switch current accounts. Once you know what you're looking for, you can use the comparison table to compare current accounts that have the features you want. Then you can find the current account switch offers that suit you best.

How to apply for a current account

When you've found the best current account for you, you'll need to apply for it online, in a branch, by telephone or by post. You can also switch current accounts, closing your old account and opening a new current account in one go. Some deals even give you a cash reward for doing this.

Open your current account online

If you've already got a current account but want to take advantage of one of the bank switch offers you've found, you can do it all online.

Take advantage of the Current Account Switch Service

Most banks subscribe to something called the Current Account Switch Service. This service makes it easy and free for anyone with a UK current account to switch. It means they take care of the whole process of switching banks for you. This includes:

  • opening a new current account

  • moving your balance

  • switching direct debits and standing orders

  • closing your old current account

The Current Account Switch Guarantee means that if anything goes wrong, you'll be refunded any interest and charges on both accounts.

Switching current accounts couldn't be easier. Here's a list of banks and building societies on the Current Account Switch Service.

What do I need to do to switch current accounts?

If you want to switch current accounts, you'll need to:

  • Find the best current accounts for your needs by looking at current account switch offers

  • When you find one, follow their 'apply for current account' instructions

  • Choose a good day for switching banks and carry on using your current account until then

  • Ask your new bank or building society to move your old account using the Current Account Switch Service

  • Agree to the Current Account Switch Agreement and a Current Account Closure Instruction. Your new bank or building society will give you this.

  • Start using your new current account.

How long does switching banks take?

When you switch accounts, the Current Account Switch Guarantee means your switch will take no more than seven days. The free Current Account Switch Guarantee gives you:

  • a simple way to switch from one bank or building society to another

  • a choice of switch date

  • a complete switch of all payments coming in and going out, such as your salary and direct debits

  • transfer of money from your old current account into your new account

  • redirection of any payments accidentally made to your old account

  • a refund of any interest and charges made on either your old or new current account if anything goes wrong with the switch.

Your new current account provider will contact you before the switch date if there are any issues.

What features might different current accounts have?

Overdrafts: These let you borrow money using your current account. When you spend more money than you have in your current account, you use your overdraft. Your balance is then negative until you pay it back. Compare current accounts that offer overdrafts.

Interest: The best current accounts pay you monthly or yearly interest on your balance. But you'll only earn interest when you have money in your account. Compare current accounts that pay interest.

Rewards: Some current accounts give you rewards, like cashback, when you use your debit card or pay your bills from your current account. Compare current accounts that pay rewards.

Budgeting tools: Many banking apps now have digital tools that can help you budget your spending by letting you set spending goals for different types of expenses and sending you instant spending notifications to your phone every time you use your debit card.

Packaged current accounts: Sometimes, a UK current account will include extra features. This could include insurance or breakdown cover. These kinds of current accounts charge a monthly or annual fee. Compare packaged current accounts.

Find the best current accounts for your needs

Sometimes, the best current accounts for you might be specifically designed for your situation. Here are some of the types of current accounts that you might like to consider:

Current accounts and bad credit

If you've got bad credit, banks might not want to accept you. Your credit record could be poor if you've missed repayments on money you've borrowed. It could also be affected if you've gone over your overdraft or limit on a credit card, or had debt problems like bankruptcy.

But banks usually offer basic current accounts without running a credit check, as long as you're over 16 and can prove your identity. A basic UK current account won't have an overdraft, but it'll let you do things like pay money in, pay bills and make payments by card. You can compare basic accounts here.

The best current accounts for students

Student current accounts usually have an interest-free overdraft. It lets you borrow money over several years. They'll also give you extra benefits like Railcards and discount cards. And example of this is the Santander 123 Student Account or the Nationwide FlexStudent account.

If you're a student, here's how to work out which current account is best. You can also compare Current accounts for students here.

Best current account for under 18s

Some accounts can only be opened by adults. But you can get a current account without an overdraft if you're under 18. You'll be able to pay money in, make payments by card in person or online, and set up automatic payments for bills.

Best current accounts if you run a charity or business

If you look after the finances of a charity or company, you can open a current account for that organisation. The account will be separate from your own money and might offer extra features so you'll be able to keep track of spending more easily. Compare business current accounts here.

Current account for a couple

If you'd like to open a joint current account with your partner, housemate or family member, it can be a good way to share expenses or bills. You can open it with two or more people, and each person gets a card for the account. Compare joint current accounts here.

Current account FAQs


Can I have more than one current account?


Yes, although many banks only let you hold one current account with them. Too many accounts could also harm your credit record


What happens if I spend more than I have in my account?


That means that you are overdrawn. You will owe money on your overdraft until you pay it back, and you may be charged a fee. If your account does not have an overdraft facility, the payment will not go through.


Should I get a savings or current account?


If you need to pay bills and make card payments, you usually need a current account. If you want to earn interest, here is how to decide which is best.


What type of debit card will I get with my current account?


Most current accounts come with a MasterCard, Visa or American Express debit card, but some prepaid accounts come with a prepaid card instead.


Could I get an account with no fees?


Yes, some current accounts come with no monthly fees or minimum deposit, but they may still charge for other things like using an overdraft.

About our current accounts comparison


Who do we include in this comparison?


We include every personal current account in the UK, except for student and children's accounts. We also include prepaid & premium current accounts from our panel. They are all regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Here is more information about how our website works.


How do we make money from our comparison?


We have commercial agreements with some of the companies in this comparison and get paid commission if we help you take out one of their products or services. Find out more here.

You do not pay any extra and the deal you get is not affected.

Last updated: 19 April, 2021