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If you’re fed up with your bank, there’s never been a better time to switch. It safer, easier and quicker than ever before. Today, you’re guaranteed a hassle free process and better still, you could grab almost £175 in cash, perks or simply a banking service that better suits your lifestyle.
What is a current account
The easiest way to think about the difference between a current account and other banking products is that when you open a current account, you will be given an account number and sort code, be protected by the UK’s deposit protection scheme the FSCS and be able to make and receive payments directly via direct debit and standing order.

In addition, most current accounts will be able to provide a straight link to a savings account and an overdraft facility, a convenient albeit expensive route to credit.
Prepay accounts
The key differences between a bank account and a prepay account are:
  • The company won’t necessarily need a banking license (FSCS protection)
  • you will not be able to setup direct debits
  • You won’t have an account number and sort code
  • You may have limits on how you can use the account
Beyond the practical difficulties, any business that doesn’t have a banking license will not be covered by the FSCS (or other European equivalent), thus your money may not be protected if the provider goes into administration.

To mitigate that risk, some prepay providers put client money in ring fenced accounts held by banks, thus alleviating this risk.

Prepay cards have an important role to play in the market, they can help keep you disciplined, some have excellent payment features making them a more convenient way to make and receive payments from friends and some also offer free or very nearly free overseas spending.

We see prepay cards as potentially useful supplementary services to your current account and we’ve picked out a few we really like in the overseas spending section below.
Practicalities of switching
All the major high street banks and Building Societies are now signed up to the “Current Account Switch Guarantee” that has streamlined the process of moving from one account to another and ensuring you aren’t at risk.
    The key benefits of the service are:
  • Free switching on a date of your choosing
  • Your balance, your debits and payments will automatically switched
  • You’ll be refunded any costs resulting from your switch
Fees & Charges
Although most current accounts do not have any direct fees and charges for having the account (subject to you meeting the requirements of the account), unless you are really savvy, almost everyone will end up paying fees and charges for their account each year.
If you have an arranged overdraft, you may assume that you’ll only be charged Interest on your account, but unfortunately you’d be wrong.

In addition to the interest that will be charged, most banks charge “arrangement fees”, which can be set in a myriad of different ways. Some banks charge different fees according to how far into your overdraft you go and charge these fees daily, weekly or monthly.

Our analysis shows that the average cost of maintaining a £1,000 arranged overdraft for a year on standard current accounts is a whopping £276. Roughly equivalent to a 30% APR on a loan!

If you need credit to tide you over, it’d be better to get a Credit Card or even a Personal Loan.

Fortunately, new regulations are coming into force next April that will force banks to solely base the charges on an APR which will have to remain constant between arranged and unarranged overdrafts.
Overseas spending
We all (should) know that you should never withdraw cash on a credit card, especially overseas, if you do, you’ll be hit with a bunch of fees and doing so will leave a mark on your credit file. Yet, overseas spending and in particular withdrawing cash from an overseas ATM on your debit card isn’t always that much better.

Using data provided by DeFaqto, we have analysed the data from all the UK’s current accounts which shows the following:

ATM withdrawals (debit card)Overseas spending (debit card)ATM Withdrawals (credit card)Overseas Spending (credit cards)
£10 worldwide£1.5751p2.8026p
£100 worldwide£3.8751p£5.12£2.54
Free spending accounts/cards 2 2 1 1
N.B. 38 standard fee free current accounts and 164 fee free credit cards analysed. *In addition to your own bank’s charges, a lot of overseas ATMs will also charge a fee

Although the costs might not look expensive at first glance, on average withdrawing £10 of foreign currency from an ATM is equivalent to an extra 16% tax on the average debit card and 2.4% on £100 of retail spending.

If you want to switch bank account, but your new chosen new bank isn’t cheap for spending overseas, you could choose from one of the supplementary services (details below) that allow you to spend and withdraw cash overseas for free.
What do you want from your bank
This is the fundamental question you need to answer before switching and as much as anything comes down to personal preference.
Do you need a branch?
If you like talking to your bank in person, then the branch network will be important, but you will be stuck with the big high street names. We would question the true value of this as most of the decisions made by a bank are automated and although it may feel like a more personal service, whether it is actually beneficial is less clear.
Do you want to be able to bank over the phone?
When First Direct launched, it was seen as innovative and different by only offering its customers telephone and online banking. Today telephone customer service is standard across all banks and you can normally manage your accounts over the phone too.
Would you rather not talk and use an app?
The new kids on the banking block are Starling and Monzo, both of which allow you to call on the telephone for customer support, the banking services are done is strictly through the app and with customer service ratings of 4.9 and 4.6 respectively are clearly doing a lot right.

The benefit of these new banks is new technology that allows them to develop and change faster than traditional banks and as a result.

They also have different business models allowing them to partner with other “Fintechs” (jazzy name to describe all the new disruptors of “Financial services”. Starling offers a marketplace and Monzo has integrated directly with great value service providers such as Transferwise for overseas spending and Octopus for Energy allowing quick and simple processes to send money abroad or switch your energy provider.
Added value (paid for bank accounts)
Free travel, mobile and or breakdown insurance, bigger interest free overdrafts, high interest linked regular savings, shopping rewards and even airport lounge access are available if you’re willing to pay for your bank account and you have the means to pay-in the minimum amount required each month.
Premier accounts
Premier banking is the term to describe bank accounts that are only accessibe to those on high incomes (£75,000 or more), with big mortgages (with the bank) or significant assets held at the bank.

The benefits are similar to those offered on “added value” accounts, except that you may also be offered faster access to a relationship manager, customer services, mortgage teams and exclusive products. The qudos of having a “Premier account” and subtly telling those around you that you’ve reached a certain level may also be appealing.
Bank account perks & switching bonuses
If you meet the criteria, there are really want your custom, so much so that they’ll pay you to join them or enhance their offering to help convince you to switch to them.
How to make banking cheaper (conveniently)
So far, we have only looked at how you choose the right bank account for your circumstances and with luck you’ll have found one that better meets your needs. Whether you have or not, here are a couple additional 'banking' services that can supplement your current account, make your life easier and cut your costs

The premium services from both the providers listed below, may be of benefit, particularly if you travel a lot, don’t do any unusual activities ( the travel insurance offerings are a little vanilla).

As you will see, Curve and Revolut have different features and benefits, so it may be best for you to have both depending on your circumstances and what you want from your banking plus services.
Curve card
A Curve card will allow you to always spend in £GBP, even when you are overseas on your current account and all your other VISA and Mastercard credit cards, stopping you from being charged the normal overseas costs (up to £200 on the free account).
How does it work?
You “load” your cards into your curve account, then you spend on your chosen card in whichever currency, the curve card then converts this into pounds without a markup and charges that onto your chosen card. If after making the purchase, you realise that you’d have rather made it on a different card, curve allows you to “go back in time” and switch the payment from one card to another, up to 14 days after you've done the spending.
Blue card - Free
1% cashback at up to 3 retailers of your choice
£200 of free ATM withdrawals per month
£500 of overseas spending after which you will be charged a 2% fee.
Curve Blue Card

Black card - £9.99 per month (no minimum period)
1% cashback at up to 3 retailers of your choice
£400 of free ATM withdrawals
Unlimited fee-free overseas spending* (Fair usage policy)
AXA Worldwide travel insurance
AXA gadget insurance
Curve Black Card

Metal card
1% cashback at up to 6 premium retailers of your choice
£600 of free ATM withdrawals
Unlimited fee free overseas spending* (Fair usage policy)
AXA worldwide travel Insurance
AXA Car hire excess insurance
Discounted airport lounge access
Curve Metal Card

Revolut card
Revolut is another card that can help you to minimise the costs of overseas spending and international payments. Like Curve, it has an excellent app that makes managing money really easy.
How does it work?
You preload money onto the account (you can setup an auto top-up to help manage this), you can then choose to transfer that money into another currency when you want. You can then spend on the card in that currency or make payments to another bank in that currency, helping to minimise the charges.

Standard card features
£200 of free ATM withdrawals
Transfer money into different currencies when you want
Free UK account
Free Euro IBAN account
Currency transactions free up to £5,000 per month then (0.5%) on 150 currencies
Revolut Standard Card

Revolut Premium - £6.99
Features above plus
£400 free ATM withdrawals
Overseas medical insurance
Delayed baggage and flight insurance
Loungekey pass access
Global express delivery
Disposable virtual cards
Revolut Premium Card

Revolut Metal £12.99
Features above plus
£600 free ATM withdrawals
0.1% cashback on EU spending and 1% outside Europe
Concierge to manage your lifestyle
Revolut Metal Card
A savings account enables you to earn interest on your money – and up to £85,000 slotted away with a UK-regulated bank or building society is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
But however much you can save, it’s worth making your money work as hard as possible. Taking a little time to compare rates could boost the amount of interest you earn, beating inflation, or the rising cost of living.

Bear in mind that the personal savings allowance (PSA) means you can now earn £1,000 interest per year without paying tax on your savings– or £500 if you’re a higher rate taxpayer. So the vast majority of savers are no longer paying tax on their savings.

There are several factors to take into consideration when comparing rates.
In this guide
When you need the money
The best rates are typically available on fixed-rate accounts – which means you’ll need to lock your money away. But these won’t suit if you’re likely to need the cash over the short-term. Withdrawing your cash during the fixed-rate period will mean you incur a penalty – typically, loss of interest. In some cases penalties can be hefty. For example, if you lock money away in a seven-year Cash ISA, the penalty could amount to one year's worth of interest. So consider your options and search for an account that’ll work for you.
What you think will happen to rates
If you lock your money away, and the government raises interest rates, you could miss out. Conversely, if interest rates fall, you’d benefit from saving in a fixed-rate account. So take into consideration what you think will happen to interest rates.

The longer your money is locked away, the bigger the risk.
How proactive you are willing to be
Unfortunately, there are plenty of savings accounts paying a pitiful £1 on every £1,000 of savings. But comparing and switching to a better rate needn’t take more than a few minutes. You can easily open accounts online, but you may still feel you don’t have the time. Alternatively, if you’ve plenty to put away you could place a chunk in an easy access account, some in a fixed-rate account that earns more interest, and slot a portion into a regular saver – these accounts often pay a decent rate.

If you’re switching your current account There are plenty of incentives to switch current accounts – from £175 cash, to cashback and interest-free overdrafts. Also, if you’ve got a smaller amount saved – say, several thousand pounds - some current accounts pay decent rates of interest on your cash. So it’s worth checking these out.

Current account switching game:
Use the new switching service to move accounts – which takes around seven days. Contact your new account provider, and ask for a form. However, if you’re likely to apply for a large amount of credit within the next few years, you may want to stay with your current provider. Bank account stability is a factor in lending decisions, and switching accounts may impact your credit score and the rate you’re offered. You could switch several times to maximise potential incentives, although beware of the impact on your credit record. For example:
  • Switch your current account to HSBC advance £175;
  • Once the switch is complete and the money paid switch to First Direct, to benefit from £100 incentive
Total from incentives alone = £275
Maximising savings on £10,000
  • £9,000 into Marcus (Easy Access at 1.45% AER
  • Put £500 into Coventry Regular Saver paying 2.5% AER (no withdrawal restrictions)
  • Put £500 into Principality Regular Saver paying 2% each month
To maximise the interest you earn, you could withdraw £1,000 from your savings with Marcus each month, saving £500 into the Coventry Regular Saver and £500 into the Principality one-year bond. Over a year, this would amount to around £190 in interest, before tax. If you’d saved the entire sum in Marcus for the year, you’d earn £135, or £55 less.
Different types of account
Instant access savings
Instant access accounts allow you to withdraw your money at any time without any restrictions. You can make as many withdrawals as you want, without penalty.
Easy access savings
Your money is easily accessible, but you may face a short delay before you can take out your money. You may also be restricted in the number of withdrawals you can make, without penalty.
Notice accounts
Some accounts will offer higher rates of interest but only pay back the money after a notice period. Like easy access accounts, notice accounts may come with restrictions on the number of withdrawals you can make without penalties being applied.
Fixed Rate Bonds
If you put your money into a fixed-rate bond you will not usually be able to withdraw the money until the end of the fixed-rate period.
Cash ISAs
You can save up to £20,000 in the 2019/20 tax year without being subject to income tax on any interest you earn in a cash Individual Savings Account (ISA). The allowance limit is across all ISAs, so if you have a cash ISA and an investment ISA, the total placed into them may not exceed £20,000. The interest rates on Cash ISAs are not as high as on easy access accounts. So it typically onlly makes sense to save into an ISA only if you’re likely to earn more interest than your tax-free Personal Savings Allowance - and that means having more than around £60,000 in savings.

Other considerations
Over the long term, investment returns have typically been higher than those offered from standard savings accounts. You may earn returns of 5% a year on investments, but this is far from guaranteed, and you can lose money as well as gain money. Saving in the stock market should only be for when you’ve established a sufficient cash pot for emergencies – and with a long-term focus, such as retirement.

Current accounts facilitate everyday banking activities that most of us take for granted. For example:
You can make and receive payments by Direct Debit
Make and receive BACS or faster payments
Make international transfers and get travel money
Access your current account via branch, online, app, telephone, or a combination of these.
Have an overdraft facility

All the big banks are now signed up to the 7-day switch guarantee. So if you switch using the service, your Direct Debits, standing orders, etc, will all be transferred over automatically. If anything goes wrong, the banks are committed to ensuring you are not adversely affected in any way.

Yes, there are no restrictions on the number of current accounts you may hold. Many people choose to have a main account for their core banking activities and another for day-to-day spending, for example, or to take advantage of certain features from a particular account such as free overseas spending and cash withdrawals.

Banks have their own rules about what verification you will need. However, they will need proof of identification and address, such as:

British or EU passport
Photo Driving licence
EU state ID
Benefits entitlement letter
HMRC tax notification
State ID and proof of residency

If you cannot provide any of these details, explain your circumstances and the bank will be able to tell you what you will need to do.

An overdraft is a flexible lending facility attached to your current account that will allow you to continue to make payments, even if you do not have any money in your account.
An overdraft facility will be set up to a particular limit. From April 2020, banks will only charge a simple annual interest rate for overdrafts - whether an arranged overdraft or not - with no additional fees and charges. Until then, overdrafts may have a broad range of charges attached. An overdraft facility is useful, as the cost and impact of failing to make payments will usually far exceed the cost of borrowing.

Some may think that banks have deliberately made overdraft charges complicated to ensure you cannot compare one account with another, and so they do not have to show how expensive they really are.
However, from April 2020, banks will be required by law to charge a straightforward APR on overdrafts, which must be the same for both authorised and unauthorised overdrafts.
This will enable an easier comparison between accounts.
Yet as banks made a healthy proportion of their current account profits from unauthorised overdraft charges, it may be that interest rates on current account overdrafts will increase for everyone.

An overdraft facility is useful to cover you if you have bills to pay, for example, but don't have enough in your current account. So accounts offering interest free overdrafts of £250 - £1000 can be attractive as a way of mitigating that risk, and a way to choose between accounts.
However, frequently dipping into your overdraft rather than using this as an emergency buffer isn't usually inadvisable. It will be far easier to go over the interest free limit and pay additional charges as a result.
Beware that overdrafts can be an expensive way to borrow. If you spend beyond their limits, their costs can even be comparable with some payday loans.

A cynic might think that banks have deliberately made overdraft charges complicated to ensure you cannot compare one account with another or be able to see how expensive they really are.
Banks would surely argue to the contrary and that they have been designed to meet their customers needs, but given 25% of current account profits result from overdraft charges, there is evidence to suggest any cynicism is well placed.
However, there is good news on the horizon, banks will be required by law to charge a straightforward APR on overdrafts from April of next year. This will allow an easy comparison between different accounts and unless they drop the overall charges will highlight how expensive they really are.

Banks may argue that unauthorised overdraft charges are expensive as they don’t want you to go beyond your credit limit, but that not facilitating payments beyond that level could be more harmful still - and charges are in place to deter you.
However, it appears that this argument has won little sympathy with the FCA. From April 2020, unauthorised overdraft charges may not exceed those of authorised overdraft charges - and to simplify comparisons, these charges will have to be presented as a Representative APR.

Life without a bank account is difficult. Since September 2016, the UK's nine largest current account providers have been required to offer a basic bank account.
These accounts offer limited banking services, but will not charge for things such as refused payments (this doesn’t mean the party who tried to take the payment won’t add additional charges, however). The accounts will not come with an overdraft facility and typically don’t provide anything beyond a bank card and facilities to make and receive payments.
These accounts are designed for people with limited financial histories in the UK, for example, very impaired credit, CCJs, and bankruptcies on their record.

These accounts will often offer interest on any balances, control options for parents and guardians such as restrictions on contactless payments, cheque books and certain categories of spending (gambling, porn etc).

The major benefit is that banks typically offer students interest-free overdrafts (provided they haven’t already got a bad credit rating), of up to £3000. k
However, beware that once you stop being a student, you'll lose the interest free element of the account at some stage. Depending on your circumstances, you may find yourself with hefty charges each month which will make it harder and more expensive to wipe out any debt.

These accounts charge a monthly fee for a bundle of different products and services linked to the current account. These may include travel, breakdown and mobile phone insurance, preferential savings rates and enhanced customer services.
Whether an added value account will offer good value will depend on your circumstances, how often you travel, and whether the insurance policies they offer will work for you - and whether enhanced customer service is something that matters to you.

If you are a high earner, then you may be able to receive a similar service to added value accounts for free - or, arguably, better service for a similar cost.
If you would like to have a premier current account, but your income isn’t necessarily at the level required, you may want to speak to your bank - it may accept you for the account, particularly if there's the possibility of a bonus and/or expenses going through your account, or if your income is likely to rise substantially in the future.

A couple of current accounts don't charge for the first £200 of overseas cash withdrawals or overseas spending.
However, this is the exception. Typically, your options for avoiding overseas charges, for example, include getting a specialist prepay card, opening a bank account that doesn’t charge (perhaps as a secondary account), or choosing a credit card designed for travel. All of these options will allow you to spend overseas for free.

A prepay card allows you to make payments and can be topped up online or in some cases via card payments and bank transfers. However, you will not be able to make BACS, faster payment, SWIFT or CHAPS payment from one.
You also cannot get credit on a prepay card.
Prepay cards are not protected by the FSCS. So if something goes wrong with the company where your money is held, you may not be able to get your money back.

We have a credit cards data feed from the data specialists defaqto. They provide us with over 100 daily updated data items that we use to compile our current account listings on Everything Financial.

Defaqto have a team dedicated to ensuring the information that they provide to us and others is accurate. However, it is your responsibility to check the details of any products and services on the Provider’s site before you apply.

Yes. Getting data from defaqto, running servers and employing a team to run the website costs money. So, like most comparison sites we list the best “affiliated” products first and then the unaffiliated linked products after this.

The listings are ordered by which ever feature you have shown an interest in. For example on the interest free overdraft current accounts page, the listings have been ordered by the accounts with the largest interest free overdraft first. In most cases the secondary order is alphabetical, for ease of searching. On pages with more than 30 listings we have also provided additional sort and filter options to allow you to more easily find products of interest to you

We have excluded certain private bank accounts that require you to either have huge incomes or hold massive balances with the bank. These products are not relevant to all but a tiny proportion of the population and make comparison of other products difficult

Defaqto have a set of criteria that they use to assess the quality of different current accounts. 5 star products typically have lots of product features and those with less stars have less features. The star ratings do not indicate whether the bank executes well on its offering or provides a good level of customer service.

You can see all every current account with its defaqto rating on the main current accounts page and can filter these results to more easily see features of interest to you.
However, when deciding which of current account is best from a particular subset (such as overdraft accounts), an aggregate score, rating whether an account is "5 star" is less relevant. We have therefore changed the information displayed to allow you to compare the different types of current account more easily.

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