A guide to switching bank accounts

Switching bank accounts needn’t be tricky. Use our comparison tool to find an account that’s right for you, then apply to a new bank. They’ll do all the hard work of switching for you.

Switching bank accounts needn’t be tricky. Use our comparison tool to find an account that’s right for you, then apply to a new bank. They’ll do all the hard work of switching for you.

Rob Silvey
Finances expert
9
minute read
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Last Updated 18 JULY 2022

What is the current account switching service?

The Current Account Switch Service (CASS) is a free service that lets you close a current account and transfer everything to a new account in just seven working days. It’s designed to make switching accounts hassle-free, allowing your direct debits, standing orders and salary to all move with you.

CASS covers 99% of UK current accounts, with over 40 UK banks and building societies signed up. See the full list of banks in the switch scheme.

Why do people change bank accounts?

Switching bank accounts can give you access to introductory offers such as lower interest rates or sign-up bonuses.

Banks regularly offer incentives to win customers. If all you have to do is switch to get a cash bonus or better terms, it may be worth making the move.

You may have an overdraft that you’re paying large fees on - so if you’ve had enough of high bank charges, it’s worth reviewing your options. If another bank will give you an interest-free overdraft as a signing-up bonus, it could make sense for you to switch accounts. Bear in mind that to access the offer, you’ll need to undergo a credit check and be accepted.

And be warned, overdraft rates tend to be similar, with most around 35-40% for standard current accounts. But you may find accounts that offer lower rates, so it’s worth comparing.

If you’re getting all you need from your current bank and are happy with the service, you may not want to switch. Lots of people stick with the same bank their whole life – but they may be missing out on some great savings and features.

How do I switch bank accounts?

Your new bank will do most of the work for you.

  1. You’ll need to provide two forms of identification and proof of address to comply with money-laundering regulations.

    When you open the account, tell your new bank you want to switch and they’ll handle the rest.
  2. Simply fill in the Current Account Switch Agreement and account closure form. You can specify a switch date, as long as it’s seven working days from when you submit the forms.  
  3. Carry on using your old account until the switch date, but don’t set up any new direct debits with your old bank during this period. By this time, you should have a new debit card and the banks will have transferred any funds, along with your direct debits and standing orders.

You’ll receive a confirmation, which you’ll need to acknowledge to complete the process.

Am I eligible to switch bank accounts?

To be eligible for an account, you may need:

  • A minimum number of direct debits
  • A minimum amount paid in each month.

There are a few types of accounts you can’t switch:

  • Joint accounts – unless you have the permission of both parties
  • Savings accounts
  • ISAs
  • Non-sterling payment accounts.

How long does it take to switch current account?

Seven working days – as long as your current bank or building society and the one you want to sign up to are part of the seven-day Current Account Switch Service.

If you’d like to switch on a certain date, you can choose to have your switch take longer than seven days. For example, you might want to minimise potential disruption by picking a date after your major payments have left for that month. If you’re moving house or getting married, you can choose a date that fits in with that. You may also find that business accounts take longer to move between banks.

How often can I switch current account?

Each current account has its own rules. So if you like to switch frequently to make the most of the freebies, always read the terms and conditions. Although there’s no official limit on how often you can switch, switching accounts goes on your credit file and frequent switching could affect your credit score.

What additional benefits are there to switching current accounts?

You may be on the hunt for great deals, such as cashback on your spending. Some banks also offer their current account customers better savings rates or lower interest rates on their mortgage.

Packaged bank accounts, which offer perks such as breakdown cover, gadget insurance or travel insurance, can be tempting too. But these can come with a monthly or annual fee, so always make sure the benefits outweigh the costs.

Not all digital banking services are the same either. Another bank may allow you to:

  • Block gambling sites
  • Set spending limits
  • Round up transactions for saving
  • Freeze cards instantly if you lose or misplace them
  • Download budgeting apps that help you to manage your money
  • Check for identity theft using spending notifications
  • Photograph cheques so you don’t need to pay them in at a branch.

Many banks have closed their branches in recent years. If you prefer to do your banking in person, you may want to switch to a bank with a branch local to you – although there’s no guarantee it will stay open.

What are the implications of switching bank accounts?

Switching bank accounts can have consequences. Check everything carefully before switching and weigh up any benefits against what you may lose. For example, you may have an overdraft and plan to switch, but find that your new bank won’t agree to the same overdraft.  

You may find that, as a new customer, you can’t yet benefit from all available offers. This is another good reason to do your due diligence before signing up.

What else should I consider when switching current accounts?

To start a switch to a new bank you’ll need to:

  • Complete a Current Account Switch Agreement form for your new account, and a Current Account Closure Instruction form for your old one.
  • Agree any arranged overdraft facilities before starting your switch.
  • Go through your payments and cancel any you don’t need. This could potentially save you lots of money.
  • Download any documents from your old account you may need, such as bank statements.
  • Once the switch has happened it’s a good idea to check all the details are correct, especially for regular incoming and outgoing payments.
  • Once the switch has completed and your old account is closed, destroy your old cards.

Can I switch a joint account?

Yes, provided you both agree to the switch. If you both want to make the change, the process is much the same as switching a single account. It just needs you both to provide the two forms of ID and proof of address. You’ll need to switch to another joint account held in the same names, and you can’t use the Current Account Switch Service to switch from a joint account to a sole account.

If only one of you applies for a switch, your application will be rejected.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to close my old current account?

Your old account closes automatically if you use the Switch Guarantee service.

If you want to leave your old account open, you can’t use the Switch Guarantee. You’ll need to move any direct debits and standing orders yourself and let the right people know.

Can I just open a new current account without having to switch?

Yes. As long as you fit the eligibility criteria, you can open a new current account. But some banks expect you to pay in a set amount of money every month, or pay your salary into the account.

It’s sometimes a good idea to have more than one bank account. You might want a joint account for bills, for example, or a foreign currency account.

If you open a new account and want to move your direct debits, you’ll have to do this yourself.

What happens if there’s a problem with the switch?

If anything goes wrong, contact your new bank as soon as you can. They should refund any charges that result from a problem with the switch.

If you’re still not happy, you can use the bank’s formal complaints procedure. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can go to the Financial Ombudsman.

When can I set up new direct debits?

You can set up new direct debits and standing orders on your new account as soon as it’s open.

There’s no need to set up new direct debits for existing payments as these will automatically move over during the switch process.

When will the money in my old account be moved to my new account?

You can use any money in your old account up to your switch date, when it will move to your new account.

What happens to payments I receive if I switch bank accounts?

The switching service will automatically redirect payments to your new account. Every time a payment is redirected, the person or organisation making the payment receives an automatic message, letting know your new account details so they can update their records. Some organisations will contact you to confirm your new account details for security purposes.

You may want to give your new account details to anyone paying you regularly, like your employer, benefits agency or pension provider.

What happens to my standing orders when I change my current account?

The Current Account Switch Guarantee takes care of standing orders or regular payments you’ve set up, as well as direct debits where you’ve agreed payments can be taken from your account.

Your new bank should transfer any standing orders to your new account.

Can I switch current accounts while overdrawn?

Yes, but you’ll need to find a bank that will agree to take on your overdraft before you switch. Talk to your new bank first to make sure you fit the eligibility criteria for an overdraft. Remember that you’ll have to repay your overdraft even if you’re switching.

Does switching current accounts affect my credit score?

Switching accounts can temporarily lower your credit score and could have more of an impact if you switch frequently. This is because your credit score is supported by having a stable banking history.

If you're applying for a mortgage, you may want to avoid switching accounts until after your application has been processed, to avoid any impact on your credit score.

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