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How to switch your bank account

By Chiara Cavaglieri

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How to switch your bank account

Switch your bank account in just seven working days. Here, we explain how to switch, the best time of the month to do it and what to do if something goes wrong. 

Video transcript

[SOUND] Few people are excited by a trip to the bank, but did you know you could potentially save hundreds of pounds with an account that better suits your needs. So how do you find the best one for you? If you always stay in credit, look for an account that pays a generous interest rate.

The good news is that there are plenty to choose from and our tables make it easy to compare what's on offer. Alternatively, packaged accounts offer perks such as travel insurance, car breakdown cover, or mobile phone insurance in exchange for a monthly fee, but remember these accounts are only worth having if you make the most of the benefits you're paying for.

Maybe you're sick of sky-high charges that are dipping into your overdraft? Our table show which banks charge the least for slipping into the red. You'll also see how unique which customer scores revealing which banks have the most satisfied customers. Switching to a new account provider takes just seven working days and can offer you a cash bonus.

To see our detailed reviews of more than 70 bank accounts including our unique which customer scores, visit which.co.uk/bankaccounts. [SOUND] [BLANK_AUDIO]

How to choose the best bank account: video guide

The short video above explains how to find a current account that's best suited to your needs.

Bank account switching bonuses

We don't recommend switching just because a bank is offering short-term perks. Our guide to finding the best bank account helps you pick the right account by comparing credit interest rates, overdraft charges and its Which? customer score. 

But if you’re already looking to move, it’s worth seeing what incentives are on offer: 

Current account Cash bonus How to get the switching bonus Customer  score
Co-op Bank Current £110 Fully switch and transfer at least 4 active direct debits a. Also pays cashback worth up to £5.50 per month 66%
First Direct 1st Account b £100 Pay in £1,000 within three months of opening. Open to new customers only.

Which? recommended provider

82%

Halifax Reward and Ultimate Reward £125 Fully switch for £125 bonus c. Reward also pays £3/mth cashback if you pay in £750, remain in credit, and pay out at least two direct debits. Ultimate Reward packaged account costs £15 per month. 60%
M&S Bank Current and Premium £125 M&S gift card plus £60 in your first year Fully switch and transfer at least two direct debits for the £125. Pay in £1,000/mth and keep two direct debits active for an extra £5/mth added to your M&S gift card in year one. Premium packaged account costs £10 per month.  

Which? recommended provider

71%

Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect and FlexPlus Recommend a friend and share £200 Complete this form to get £100 each if a friend or family member switches to Nationwide and moves two direct debits (excludes FlexOne and FlexBasic) within 90 days. FlexPlus packaged account costs £10 per month.  

Which? recommended provider

77%

TSB Classic Plus

£130 switching bonus, plus up to £120 in your first year Apply via MoneySup by 26 June '17 for £130 bonus d. Earn £5 if you spend on debit card 20 times in a month and another £5 if you make two direct debits in a month (ends 30 June 2018). Account pays 3% credit interest on  balances up to £1,500. 67%
Table notes:
Information correct at June 2017.

a Not available if you've received a Co-op bonus since Jan 2014. Existing Co-op customers are eligible for £110  bonus as long as they've not paid in more than £800/mth on average since 3 Oct 2016.
b Fee-free as long as you pay in £1,000/mth or maintain an average balance of £1,000 (otherwise £10/mth).
c Not available if switching from Bank of Scotland, or you've received a Halifax bonus since Jan 2012. £125 offer available until 31 July 2017.
d To earn £130 you must; not hold a Classic Plus account in your sole name; have never earned a switching bonus from TSB before; switch fully by transferring all active credits and debits; pay in £500 within 28 days; have at least 2 active direct debits registered at least 28 days after the switch. Browser cookie-blockers can prevent this offer from tracking so turn these off temporarily.

Current Account Switch Service: how it works

Most banks have agreed to use the new switching service, which means it should take just seven working days to switch you over from your old account once the new account is opened. 

If you want to check which banks and building societies are participating, you can search by name here on the Current Account Switch Service website. 

The switching service is largely automated. The step-by-step process below details exactly what happens.

Step 1

When you apply to the new bank, it will undertake its normal account-opening procedures. 

It will confirm that it will use the new current account switching service backed by the Current Account Switch Guarantee.

Banks and building societies have to comply with strict money-laundering rules so, when you open an account, you'll be asked to provide two separate documents for proof of identity and proof of address.

Step 2

Once your new account has been opened, you will need to complete a 'Current Account Switch Agreement' form and a 'Current Account Switch Service – Account Closure' form.

Step 3

You will be able to choose and agree a convenient switch date for you with the new bank or building society. 

It can't be a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday, and must be at least seven working days after your account has been opened.

Step 4

Once this has been agreed, your new bank will provide confirmation that the switch has begun and will be completed on the agreed switch date.

Step 5

You will continue using your old current account up until the agreed switching date. Your new bank will contact you if there any issues during this period.

Step 6

On the switch date, your new bank will be responsible for moving your incoming and outgoing payments, and transferring any money to your new account, before closing the old account and sending confirmation that the process is complete.

What can I do if I encounter any problems?

The Current Account Switch Guarantee outlines how the switching service works and what rights you have if anything goes wrong with the switch.

All providers offering the Current Account Switch Service will abide by these rules: 

  • The service is free to use, and you can choose and agree your switch date with the new bank.
  • The new bank will take care of moving all your payments going out (eg direct debits and standing orders) and those coming in (eg your salary) to your new account.
  • Your new bank will arrange for the closure of your old account and for the remaining balance to be transferred to your new account on the agreed switch date.
  • For 36 months, the new bank will arrange for payments accidentally made to your old account to be automatically redirected to your new account. The new bank will also contact the sender and give them your new account details.
  • The responsibility lies with the new bank to contact you before the switch date if there are any issues. 
  • The new bank must refund you for any charges incurred as a result of a direct debit or standing order not having been successfully transferred to the new account.

If you run into any problems during or after the switching process – for example, if your bank fails to comply with the Switch Guarantee – you should complain in the first instance directly to your new bank. 

If you're not happy with the answer you get or it doesn't reply to you within eight weeks, you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Know your rights: I want to cancel a financial product I bought online – what to do if you change your mind.

When should I choose to switch my account over?

Under the new switching service, it shouldn't matter what working day you choose to make the switch over to the new account.

However, if all your direct debits and standing orders go out around the same time every month, it makes sense to avoid switching on this day to minimise the potential for any problems. 

Can I switch bank accounts if I'm overdrawn?

No, not necessarily. Whether or not the new account provider offers you an overdraft facility and whether or not it matches your current overdraft limit will depend on your circumstances. 

If you've got an authorised overdraft and have a record of managing it well, most banks will consider taking the overdraft on. 

  • Last updated: March 2017
  • Updated by: Chiara Cavaglieri
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