A simples guide

Basic Bank Account

Following a 2014 European Union directive, all EU countries must ensure that everyone has access to a basic bank account allowing them to receive and pay funds.

This finally came into effect in January 2016 and now, for the first time, those unable to get a regular bank account can access the banking system with a ‘basic bank account’.

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Who is eligible?

Almost anyone can apply for a basic bank account. Only those convicted of fraud or those failing ID checks are prevented from having a basic bank account.

Basic bank accounts are predominantly designed for people who are ineligible for a standard bank account.

This could include those who:

  • Have a poor credit history, county court judgements or bankruptcy.
  • Have no credit history yet.
  • Have recently moved to the country

If you are not in this position, banks will usually offer a standard bank account instead. 

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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 the following:

  • Ability to have wages and other funds paid into their own account.
  • Ability to pay bills by direct debit.
  • Access to cashpoints.
  • Some banks will offer a debit card to allow you to make purchases online and in shops. Although they typically won’t include overdraft credit.
  • Typically all of this is available without fees.

Which banks offer basic bank accounts?

Initially nine banks signed up with the Government to offer basic bank accounts:

  • Barclays
  • The Co-operative Bank
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Banking Group (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands)
  • National Australia Group (including Clydesdale and Yorkshire brands)
  • Nationwide
  • RBS Group (including NatWest and Ulster Bank brands)
  • Santander
  • TSB

However, we now have over 30 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.

Can I get an account if I have bad credit?

Yes. The only reasons that you can’t get an account is if you’ve been convicted of fraud or you fail an ID check. Money laundering rules require a bank to verify who you are.

Usually you will need one of the following:

  • Full, current UK passport
  • Current European Union member state identity card
  • Current UK photo card driving licence or UK full paper driving licence
  • Identity card issued by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland
  • Benefit books/benefit entitlement letters; includes pension, child benefit, income support, disability 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, there may be other forms of ID that you can use instead.

How do I apply?

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

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

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