How to open, switch or close your bank account

With so many different bank accounts available these days, it’s worth checking to see if you can find a better one. Whether you’re looking to set up, switch or close your bank account, this guide has all the information you need.

Opening a bank account

Choose a bank account

First things first. Make sure you know what bank account you’d like to open.

Read our guide How to choose the right bank account for all the information you need to make a decision.
If you have a partner, you might want to read about Joint accounts.

How to open a bank account

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Now that you know what bank account you want it’s time to speak to the bank. You can do this in branch, over the phone or online.

The bank will run a credit check to discover your credit history. This will tell them, for example, whether you’ve had problems with credit repayments in the past.

You’ll also be asked to provide a:

  • Proof of identity (for example, a passport or driving licence)
  • Proof of address (for example, a recent utility or phone bill)

If you don’t have any of the above, speak to the bank about alternative documents you might be able to use.

Fee free basic bank accounts

If banks turn you down for a standard account, you can always apply for a fee free basic bank account. Launched in January 2016, these accounts don’t charge fees, don’t provide overdrafts and won’t charge you if a Direct Debit fails.

Want to find out more about fee-free basic bank accounts? We’ve pulled together a collection of guides, tips and handy links to make sure you get the best deal.

How to switch bank accounts

Banks and building societies all offer a free seven-day Current Account Switch Service. It’s backed by a guarantee that means you’ll be refunded any interest and charges on your old and new accounts if anything goes wrong.

Switching your account using the Current Account Switch Service

Some banks offer cash incentives, vouchers and cashback to new customers. Make sure these aren’t your only consideration when switching.

Step 1

Once you know which account you’d like to switch to, you’ll need to get in touch with your new bank.

You can do this in branch, online, either on their website, or through a price comparison website and in some cases over the phone.

The bank will then carry out a credit check on you and ask for proof or identify and proof of address.

Step 2

If the bank accepts you, you will have to fill in a Current Account Switch Agreement form and a Current Account Switch Service - Account Closure form.

You will also be asked to pick a switch date. This will be the day your old account is shut down and your new account opens.

Your new bank will then confirm the switch is in motion and the dates.

Step 3

On your switch date your new bank will make sure:

  • All money in your old account is be sent to your new account.
  • All Direct Debits and regular payments are automatically moved to your new account, but it’s worth making sure.
  • All payments made to your old account for the next 36 months will go to your new account.

How to close a bank account

You can close most bank accounts whenever you like without being charged a fee or penalty. It’s usually just a case of getting in touch with your bank. However, if you’re overdrawn you’ll have to pay off what you owe.

If you’re not using the Current Account Switch Service to shut your account, make sure any Direct Debits or payments are transferred to your new account.

If your bank decides to close your account

If your bank decides to close your current or instant access savings account, you will generally be given two months’ notice.

For other accounts, it must give you ‘reasonable notice’, so that you can make alternative arrangements. The bank can delay the closure if you have made payments that have not yet been taken from your account, for example a cheque or card payment.

If things go wrong

If you are unhappy about something your bank has done, the first thing to do is to talk to someone at the bank about it.

For other options when making a complaint read Sort out a money problem or make a complaint.