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A guide to basic bank accounts

A guide to basic bank accounts

Almost everyone has access to a basic bank account, allowing them to receive and pay funds. Those unable to get a regular bank account can access the banking system with a ‘basic bank account’, which excludes the ability to obtain credit.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 24 OCTOBER 2019

Who’s eligible for a basic bank account?

Basic bank accounts are predominantly designed for people who aren’t eligible for a standard bank account.This may include those who:

  • Have a poor credit history, county court judgements or have been declared bankrupt.
  • Have no credit history.
  • Have recently moved to the country
  • Be aware that if you’ve been convicted of fraud or have failed ID checks, you might not be eligible for a basic bank account. 

What are the advantages of having a basic bank account?

These accounts give people who can’t get a standard bank account access to simple transactional banking, including:

  • Ability to have wages and other funds paid into the account.
  • Ability to pay bills by direct debit.
  • Access to cashpoints.
  • Some banks will offer a debit card to make purchases online and in shops. However, the card won’t normally include overdraft credit.

Typically, all of these services are available without fees.

Can I get an account if I have bad credit?

Yes. Usually, you’ll need one of the following forms of ID to open a basic bank account:

  • Full and current UK passport
  • Current European Union member state identity card
  • Current UK photo card driving licence
  • Identity card issued by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland
  • Benefit entitlement letters; includes pension, child benefit, income support, disability living allowance (DLA) and jobseeker's allowance
  • HMRC tax notification or assessment letter

If you can't provide any of the accepted forms of ID on the list, contact the bank to explain your situation as there may be other forms of ID that you can use.

How do I apply?

Different banks may have different processes for applying, with some allowing you to apply online and others requiring you to visit a branch.

The easiest thing for you to do is to compare using our website and follow the links to the website of the provider that you’re interested in.

Compare basic accounts

We have a wide range of basic bank accounts for you to compare via our website. Simply use our basic current account comparison service to help you find the account that’s right for you.

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