How to open a bank account
Why do I need a bank account?
- Bank accounts help you manage your money on a daily basis. You can keep a track of exactly what goes in and what goes out
- You get discounts on your phone, electricity and gas bills if you set up Direct Debit (automatic) payments from your bank account
- If you’re on benefits, you will need to set up a bank account to receive your monthly payments when it changes over to Universal Credit. (See our ‘What is Universal Credit and how it can affect you’ page for more information.)
The most important part of setting up a bank account is choosing one that is right for you. Watch this short video from the Money Advice Service to give you some tips on how to pick the best account that suits your needs.
How do I set up a basic bank account?
Once you’ve decided which bank you want to use you can normally apply for an account in the branch itself, online, over the phone or even by post.
To speed up the process of setting up a bank account it’s a good idea to find out from the bank what information you will need to provide. All Banks will need you to provide: Proof of who you are:
- Driving Licence
- If you don’t have these speak to your bank to ask what other forms of ID they will accept, some banks will accept a letter from a responsible person (teacher, social worker) or a benefits notification letter
And proof of your address, for example:
- Tenancy Agreement
- Council Tax Bill
- Gas or Electricity Bill
Need more help? You can follow some simple steps from the Money Advice Service in this video on how to set up a bank account.
Where can I look for a basic bank account?
Most people are entitled to open a basic bank account, even if you have a poor credit history, so that you can have wages or benefits paid in and you can pay for things such as rent and bills through direct debit.
Here’s a few places you can go to that offer basic bank accounts:
Barclays You can apply for a basic current account through Barclays, it offers a Visa Debit card and can be used at cash machines and any shops which show the Visa sign. The account can be used to receive salaries or benefits and allows you to easily set up standing orders and direct debits. For more information please contact your local Barclays branch
Post Office You can also apply for a new current account at the Post Office. There are two accounts available to choose from; the standard account and the control account which offer a range of services to suit your needs. They are straightforward with no hidden charges and allow you to manage your money either in branch, online, or over the telephone.
To apply for a current account at the Post Office you can visit your local ‘Crown’ branch – these are usually the main post office in an area. You’ll need to be 18 or over, a UK resident and able to open your account with a £20 deposit. For more information you can visit the main post office in your area. Alternatively visit their website or call 0845 266 8977.
Credit unions Credit unions are not-for-profit community organisations run by members, for members. If you live or work in an area where a credit union operates you could be eligible to join. Some credit unions offer current accounts similar to basic bank accounts. To find your nearest credit union visit this site.