Basic bank accounts

 February 2016

Fact sheet no. 505 EW Basic bank accounts

This fact sheet explains why you might consider opening a basic bank account. This can be particularly helpful if you have some debts with the same bank as you currently pay income into and you cannot pay. This fact sheet has a list of basic bank accounts that you could apply for. The list compares some standard features of basic bank accounts to help you choose which account might be best for you.

Use this fact sheet to:

  • decide whether you should open a basic bank account; and
  • help you choose which basic bank account is right for you in your circumstances.

Why open a basic bank account?

Extra advice:

the Current Account Switch Service

Most banks have a guarantee that will let you switch accounts within seven days. This is called the Current Account Switch Guarantee. Banks will also guarantee your payments in and out of your new account are switched over in time so that you do not miss any regular bills and payments.

If you owe money to your bank or building society, it is important to make sure that any income, for example your wages or benefits, do not go into that account. This is because in some circumstances, banks and building societies can take money from your account to pay off your debt to them. This may leave you with too little money to live on, or to pay your essential bills. A basic bank account is a simple type of account that lets you pay money in and take it out, but doesn’t usually offer things like an overdraft or a cheque book.

Basic bank accounts are useful because your credit score does not usually matter. This means you should still be able to get a basic bank account even if you have lots of debt or a county court judgment, and in some cases, if you are bankrupt.

Important: 

business accounts

The rules about when banks can take money from business accounts to pay a debt to them can be very different compared to personal accounts. If you have a business account, contact Business Debtline on 0800 197 6026 or see www.businessdebtline.org.

The Money Advice Service has lots of useful information on its website on how to open an account, including what identification you will need and things you should think about. See www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk or phone them on 0300 500 5000.

The Financial Conduct Authority's Banking: Conduct of Business Sourcebook says that, if the lender has a basic bank account available, you should be told about it if you meet their rules. They should also tell you why you have been turned down. If this does not happen, you may be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Contact us for advice.

You can use the following list of basic bank accounts to help you choose the right account for you. If you have any problems, contact us for advice

List of basic bank accounts

​Bank name and account name Free buffer zone​ Direct debits and standing orders​ Charge for unpaid direct debit​ Charge for unpaid standing order​ Debit card (Electron, Maestro, Solo or Visa)​ Why you may be declined​
Bank of Scotland: Basic Account​ £10 Yes​ £10 (max 3 per day)​ £10 (max 3 per day)​ Yes​ Record of fraud​
​Barclays: Basic Current Account No​ Yes​ £8​ £8​ Yes​ Record of fraud​
Clydesdale: Readycash No​ Yes​ £15​ £15​ Yes​ Record of fraud
The Co-operative Bank: Cashminder​ No​ Yes​ £0 £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
​Halifax: The Basic Account ​No Yes​ £0​ £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
​HSBC: Basic Bank Account No Yes​ £0 £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
​Lloyds: Basic account ​£10 ​Yes ​£0 £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
Metro Bank: Cash account No​ No​ N/A N/A​ Yes​ Undischarged bankrupt, record of fraud​
​Nationwide: FlexBasic account No​ Yes​ £0 £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
​NatWest: Foundation Account ​No Yes​ £0​ £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
Santander: Basic Current account​ No​ Yes​ £0​ £0 No​ Undischarged bankrupt, record of fraud​
​The Royal Bank of Scotland: Basic Account No​ Yes​ £0 £0​ Yes​ Record of fraud
TSB: Cash account​ No​ Yes​ £0 (for accounts opened after 01.01.16)​ £0 (for accounts opened after 01.01.16) Yes​ Undischarged bankrupt, record of fraud​
​Yorkshire Bank: Readycash No​ Yes​ £0 £0​ Yes​ Undischarged bankrupt, record of fraud​