How to switch bank accounts

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Whatever the reason for wanting to change your bank account, switching is easy, as we explain here.

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If you feel your bank account no longer meets your needs, perhaps because it doesn’t pay a competitive rate of interest for money held in a current account or charges too much for the use of an overdraft, then it might be worth switching.

When might I consider switching bank accounts?

You might switch bank accounts for many reasons, but customer experiences and product performance are the two standouts.

Bad customer service

If you feel persistently let down by your bank, whether it's because of significant wait times when you try to speak to them or their mobile app isn't always reliable, then opting to switch bank might be a good idea.

Poor product performance

Banks and building societies regularly review their product offerings, meaning the interest rates charged on your current account balances or overdraft may not be in line with those available elsewhere. 

Poor product performance can also include removing benefits such as low- or no-cost ATM withdrawals, cashback perks being trimmed, or just not being as good as those provided by another bank. If you can find an account offering a better deal, it’s worth considering switching. 

Other reasons to switch bank accounts

Welcome reward: Some banks offer a cash incentive to switch to them - for example, a £175 reward if you deposit a minimum amount of £1,000 in the first three months. This may be a big enough bonus to warrant serious consideration – providing the on-going interest rates and overdraft charges are competitive and appeal to you.

Branch access: If you deposit cash into your account regularly and your local branch closes, you may want to look elsewhere. The same goes if you move to an area that doesn’t have a branch nearby. That said, with more bank branches closing, you might find your only option is to open a Post Office account, even if you only use it to deposit cash before transferring it to your existing account. 

What do I need to do before I switch bank accounts?

The bank switching process was simplified in 2013 when the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) was launched. This free-to-use resource covers 99% of UK banks and building societies; the full list of participating providers is available on the CASS website.

Once you’ve identified a bank account you want to switch to, check the small print. Certain accounts may require you to deposit a certain sum – £1,000, for example – or to set up a specified number of Direct Debits. 

The next step is to go through your payments and cancel any that you don’t want to carry over to your new account. If you need to show statements, as may be the case if you’re self-employed, ask your old bank to provide copies or download them from your online account.

How do I switch bank accounts?

The process of switching takes less time than it does to prepare. All it involves is:

  • contacting your new bank

  • having two forms of valid photo ID, including one with your address

  • answering some questions about your circumstances (such as whether you have dependants, your job and salary)

  • agreeing to a credit report check 

  • completing an account closure form and signing the Current Account Switch Agreement

  • setting a switch date

Note: Banks require consent from both parties to switch a joint account.

How long does it take to switch bank accounts?

Switching is easy and quick. It’ll take between five and 10 minutes to apply via the CASS system.

Once you’ve received the green light on your application, you’ll just need to wait until your switch date comes around. On this date, which will be at least seven days after your application, you can start using your new account. The seven-day delay enables banks to set up your payments and transfer your balance. 

Note: Don’t try to cancel or set up any payments after using the CASS service, as these won’t be processed.  

What if something goes wrong with the current account switch?

Contact your new provider if you experience any subsequent problems, such as Direct Debits not going through. 

Under the Current Account Switch Guarantee, your bank must refund any lost interest or charges you face due to its error. 

How often can I switch bank accounts?

You can switch bank accounts as often as you like. It’s a good idea to review the market every so often and switch if your current bank account is no longer giving you a competitive interest rate or is charging more than another for an overdraft. 

How many bank accounts can I have?

There’s no reason why you can’t have multiple bank accounts, each serving a different need. For example, you could have:

  • A high-interest current account

  • An account with a low-charging overdraft 

  • An account for big purchases, which offers a good cashback return

  • An account for holidays, which is free or cheaper to use for ATM withdrawals and purchases than other cards

If a better account hits the market, you could switch any of these, so you’re always making the most of your money.

Will switching banks affect my credit score?

Whenever you apply for a new bank account, the provider will check your credit report, and a trace of their check is left on file, which can adversely affect your credit score. 

One-off checks disappear after a while, providing you prove you can manage your account and don’t exhaust your overdraft. But if you plan to get a loan in the next year, credit checks could prove damaging, especially if your credit score is lower.

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.

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