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Compare current accounts

Get up to £175 when you switch bank account

  • Compare the latest deals on current accounts from a range of leading providers
  • See if you can benefit from better interest rates and other rewards by switching

Looking for Compare the Market rewards?* Current accounts are not a qualifying product.

Rewards qualifying purchases

Car, home, travel, pet, bike, van, business, landlord, health, caravan, motorhome, life (including 50+) and taxi insurance

Energy, broadband, TV, phone and mobile phone

Loans, credit cards, car finance, homeowner loans and income protection

Non-qualifying purchases

Business energy, savings and current accounts, mortgages, business life insurance, business broadband, breakdown cover, home care, temporary insurance and equity release.

What is a current account?

A current account is a bank or building society account that lets you manage your day-to-day spending. It provides instant access to your funds and is likely to be the account you use for most of your purchases.

You can have your salary, pensions and benefits paid into it, as well as set up direct debits and standing orders from it. You can also use it to pay bills.

Some current accounts pay interest on balances, give you cashback on spending or offer a more competitive overdraft facility.

What benefits can I get by switching current accounts?

The current account market is extremely competitive, with accounts offering a variety of benefits. Switching can help you make the most of them.

Some banks and building societies offer attractive interest rates to appeal to new customers. And some will pay a cash bonus for switching.

Certain types of accounts offer benefits and rewards, such as:

  • Interest on credit balances
  • Cashback
  • Travel insurance
  • Breakdown cover.

That’s why it’s worth shopping around for the best current accounts available.

When you switch current accounts to receive rewards, you might be required to pay in a certain amount each month and/or set up direct debits from the account. This is to encourage you to use it as your main account.

Always check the minimum requirements before you open an account.

What types of current accounts are there?

There are several different types of current account. The best current account for you will depend on your financial situation and how you plan to use the account.

Standard current accounts

Standard current accounts provide many useful services. You can have your salary paid directly into one, and use it to pay bills and set up direct debits. You’re usually given a debit card that lets you make cash withdrawals and pay for goods.

Current accounts come with an overdraft facility that can allow you to borrow money in the short term. Rates of interest on overdrafts can be up to 40%. A few current accounts come with a small interest-free overdraft buffer. Basic bank accounts don’t offer overdrafts.

Packaged current accounts

Cashback current accounts

Cashback current accounts give you cashback on certain monthly bills, such as your mortgage or utility bills. They tend to charge a monthly fee but can help boost your income if you choose wisely. Comparing cashback benefits is the best way to find the right deal for you.

Reward accounts

These can include benefits like travel or home insurance, railcards and other discounts. They normally charge a monthly fee, so make sure the rewards justify the cost.

Student bank accounts

Student bank accounts aim to meet the needs of those studying at college or university and typically offer interest-free overdrafts.

Graduate bank accounts

The best graduate bank accounts are designed to help graduates starting off in work pay off their university overdrafts. They may offer interest-free overdrafts for up to three years, along with exclusive deals on holidays and entertainment. Some accounts charge monthly fees, so watch out for these when you compare accounts.

Learn about switching from a student bank account to a graduate bank account

Basic bank accounts

Basic bank accounts are available to almost anyone. They suit people who don’t qualify for a standard account, perhaps because they have a low credit score or only recently moved to the UK.

Joint accounts

Joint accounts aren’t specific types of current accounts, just accounts that providers allow to be opened jointly. Both account holders are responsible for income and outgoings. They can suit couples and housemates with shared financial responsibilities, such as rent, a mortgage or bills.

One important thing to note about joint accounts is that you become financially linked with the other person. This means their credit history could affect your ability to borrow.

High-interest accounts

Some current accounts pay interest that, at times, may be at a higher rate than many savings accounts.

High-interest accounts tend to have more restrictions than standard current accounts, such as minimum monthly deposits, a maximum amount you’ll earn interest on and a limit on how long the high interest offer lasts.

How to switch current accounts

Decided to switch current account or open a new bank account? Once you’ve chosen the type of account you’d like to move to, the process is pretty simple:

Compare current account deals

Choose the type of account you’re looking for and we’ll show you a range of options. You can compare interest rates, overdraft limits, account benefits and more.

Complete the application

Once you’ve found an account you want to switch to, click through to your new provider and apply – it should only take a few minutes.

Organise the current account switch

As most banks and building societies are signed up to the Current Account Switch Guarantee Service, this should be a simple process. Your new provider will handle the switch for you. They’ll transfer your money and any direct debits, and payments to your old account will automatically be forwarded to your new account.

Do check this with your new bank, though. If it isn’t part of the switch scheme, you may be responsible for some of the process.

When you open any bank account, you’ll need to give your new provider certain information, like ID and proof of address. Your new bank is also likely to carry out a credit check on you.

How long does it take to switch a current account? 

If your new bank is part of the Current Account Switch Guarantee Service, your switch can take as little as seven working days. You can also pick the date you’d like the switch to take place.

Author image The Editorial Team

What our expert says...

"With the Current Account Switch Guarantee, switching current accounts is easier than ever. Most banks will transfer your money, salary, direct debits and standing orders for you, all within seven working days.

This means you can take advantage of the best current accounts by switching regularly. Many of the top current accounts offer switching bonuses, so you could make money simply by switching accounts when a new deal is available."

- The Editorial Team, Experts in personal finance, insurance and utilities

What should I consider to find the best current account for me?   

Before comparing current accounts, think about how you plan to use yours. How much do you intend to pay in and withdraw each month? Do you need an arranged overdraft? This can help narrow down your options and find a current account that suits your lifestyle.

Once you’ve decided which type of current account is best for you, here’s what you need to consider:

  • Interest rates – getting paid interest on your balance can help your money grow, but watch out for restrictions.
  • Overdraft – some banks may offer a fee-free arranged overdraft, up to a limit.
  • Cashback – make sure any rewards you receive are worthwhile to make up for paying a monthly fee.
  • Other benefits – perks such as travel insurance, mobile phone cover and breakdown cover can be useful. But check their limits and make sure you’re not doubling up on cover you already have.
  • Monthly account fees – some current accounts charge a monthly fee. It’s important to compare costs and charges you might have to pay for using the account.
  • Mobile and online banking access – check what features providers’ apps and online services offer.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, so the best current account for someone else might not work for you.

Does opening a current account affect your credit score?

Taken in isolation, opening a new current account shouldn’t affect your credit score.

When you open a current account, you’ll usually need to undergo a credit check. This is because many current accounts offer an overdraft facility, which is a type of credit product.

This in itself shouldn’t affect your credit score. But if you apply for several new accounts, or a new account and a credit card at the same time, this could have an impact. That’s because multiple applications for credit are a cause for concern to lenders.

If you have a bad credit score or poor credit history, you can look into bank accounts for bad credit. These might include a basic bank account, which doesn’t give you an overdraft so won’t mean a credit check.

Can I have multiple current accounts?

You can have as many current accounts as you like. In fact, it’s often useful to have more than one bank account.

Some people use different accounts for different bills. For example, you may want a joint account for shared financial responsibilities, plus another for managing your own income and expenditure.

What’s the difference between authorised and unauthorised overdrafts?

Authorised overdraft

Also known as an arranged overdraft, this is an overdraft that’s agreed with your bank in advance. It lets you spend more money than is in your account, up to an agreed limit, by borrowing from your bank.

You’ll usually be charged interest for using an arranged overdraft, and you’ll have to pass a credit check to be accepted for one.

Unauthorised overdraft

This is when you go overdrawn without having pre-arranged an overdraft with your bank. It’s also when you spend more than your agreed overdraft limit.

You may be charged interest for using an unarranged overdraft and it’s likely to damage your credit score, making it harder to borrow in the future.

Compare current accounts

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between a current account and a savings account?

Your current account handles your day-to-day spending, bills and income. Unlike a savings account, you can set up direct debits to make regular payments.

Savings accounts give you somewhere safe to keep your unspent income, where it can grow with a better interest rate than a current account.

Like current accounts, savings accounts come in many forms, such as instant access, fixed rate and ISAs. There are many options to choose from, which is where we can help you compare.

How safe is my money in a current account?

If your current account is with a UK authorised bank regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), it’s protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

This means you’re protected for up to £85,000 if your bank or financial service provider goes bust. If you have a joint account, you each get £85,000 protected, so that’s £170,000 in total.

But where you hold your money may make a difference. If you have money in multiple accounts with banks that are part of the same banking group (and share a banking licence), the FSCS treats them as one bank. This means that the compensation limit applies to the total amount you hold across all these accounts, not to each separate account.

The limit covers all accounts held with that provider. If you have large savings, look to spread your money between different banks and building societies.

You can check to see if or how much of your money is protected by the FSCS.

How much should I pay into a current account?

There’s no set amount, but some banks insist you pay in a minimum amount each month. If you can’t do this, or are refused a current account, consider a basic bank account instead.

A basic account offers you much the same service, but without the frills. You won’t have access to credit (in the form of an overdraft), but you’ll still have a debit card and can pay direct debits or standing orders.

What happens to my direct debits if I switch current accounts?

When you switch bank accounts, most providers will transfer your direct debits to your new account as part of the Current Account Switch Guarantee. If your old or new current account provider isn’t signed up to the Current Account Switch Guarantee (most are), you might need to contact them to transfer your direct debits.

Do I need to tell my bank when I switch current accounts?

No, provided your old and new provider are signed up to the Current Account Switch Guarantee. In this case, you’ll simply need to ask your new provider to move your account using the guarantee. They’ll transfer your money from your old account to your new one and close your old account.

If your old or new account provider isn’t signed up to the Current Account Switch Guarantee, you may need to contact them yourself to organise your switch.

What’s the difference between a personal current account and a business current account?

A personal current account is for your personal finances. You can use it to deposit your salary and other income, as well as set up direct debits and standing orders.

A business current account is for the money a company earns and spends. Limited companies are legally required to have a business account, as banks and account providers won’t let you use a personal current account for business.

If you’re self-employed, it’s not a legal requirement to have a business account.

What happens if I have a credit card and savings account with the bank I’m leaving?

Closing your current account doesn’t mean you have to close other accounts, cards or services with that provider. You can have multiple accounts with different banks or building societies.

It’s fine to have a current account with one bank, a savings account with another and a credit card with a third provider.

Can I add another person to my current account?

Most banks will let you add someone else to your current account, so it becomes a joint account. But your bank or building society may limit the number of people you can tie to one account.

And consider that you’ll be financially linked to whoever you share the joint account with, which could affect your credit rating if they have a poor credit history.

What fees should I consider when comparing bank accounts?

There are a range of fees that can come with using a current account. You might want to consider these when switching. They include:

A monthly or annual account fee – these are usually only charged for packaged accounts.

Overdraft charges – instead of daily or monthly fees, a simple annual interest rate (APR) is charged on overdrafts.

Refused payment fees – if there’s not enough money in your account to cover a direct debit, standing order or cheque payment.

Providers might also charge for:

  • Providing duplicate bank statements
  • Using your debit card overseas
  • Cancelling a cheque
  • Getting a reference from the bank
  • Getting a banker’s draft.

What’s the difference between a direct debit, standing order and recurring payment?

Direct debits, standing orders and recurring payments are very similar, but there are some key differences:

  • Standing order – a regular payment to another person, account or business. An example might be a monthly transfer between your own current account and savings account.
  • Direct debit – another type of regular payment, but one the business or organisation you’re paying must set up. You’ll normally need to sign an agreement to give them permission to take payment. An example is paying your utility bills by monthly direct debit.
  • Recurring payment – similar to the above, but set up using your card details, rather than your bank account. A good example is when you subscribe to a streaming service.

How do my current account rewards affect tax?

If your current account offers a cash reward, this isn’t covered under your Personal Savings Allowance (PSA). That means it will be taxable.

If the account offers rewards in the form of discounts, you won’t have to pay tax.

Depending on your tax rate and how much interest you earn, your interest payments may or may not be tax-free.

Should I consider an app-based current account?

App-based bank accounts are becoming increasingly popular. These are different to the banking apps that traditional banks offer and give you greater control of your finances.

App-based banks don’t have high-street branches – everything is done online. Although your account is entirely in the app, some app-based banks allow you to deposit cash and cheques into your account. The process can vary among providers, so check before you open an account.

App banking offers other useful features. You can set up notifications, which make you more aware of your spending and could stop you going overdrawn. You could ring-fence money to protect your savings or temporarily freeze your account when your balance is low.

Page last reviewed on 01 JULY 2024
by The Editorial Team