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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. 

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.

Alternatively, you can skip straight to the step-by-step instructions for switching your bank account.

More help for switchers in 2018

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published new rules requiring banks and building societies to publish more information to help people make more meaningful comparisons between current account providers.

Under the new rules, you will be able to find out:

  • how and when services and helplines are available
  • contact details for help, including for 24 hour helplines
  • how long it will take to open a current account
  • how long it will take to have a debit card replaced
  • how often the firm has had to report major operational and security incidents
  • the level of complaints made against the firm

Current account providers will be required to publish most of this information from 15 August 2018 onwards, although they have until 15 February 2019 before they are required to publish account opening and debit card replacement metrics.

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 Extra benefits Customer  score
First Direct 1st Account £100 £250 interest-free overdraft and linked regular saver pays 5%.

Which? recommended provider

83%

Must fully switch and pay in £1,000 within three months of opening for cash bonus. Open to new customers only. Account is fee-free as long as you pay in £1,000/mth or maintain an average balance of £1,000 (otherwise £10/mth).
Halifax Reward and Ultimate Reward £75  Reward also pays £3/mth cashback if you pay in £750, remain in credit, and pay out at least two direct debits. 65%
Must fully switch . Not available if switching from Bank of Scotland, or you previously received a Halifax switching bonus since Jan '12.
HSBC Advance Bank Account £150  Receive an additional £50 after 12 months. 60%
Must fully switch with at least two direct debits or standing orders. Customers must also pay in at least £1,750 each month.
M&S Bank Current and Premium £125 M&S gift card plus £60 in your first year Earn 1 point for every £1 spent on your M&S Visa Debit Card in M&S. Linked regular saver pays 5%.

Which? recommended provider

71%

Must 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.
Nationwide FlexAccount, FlexDirect and FlexPlus Refer a friend and share £200 FlexDirect pays 5% credit interest in year one (then 1%) up to £2,500 and FlexPlus is top-rated packaged account (costing £10 per month). Linked regular saver pays 5%.

Which? recommended provider

80%

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.

Table notes:
Information correct at January 2018.

 

 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 (CASS) 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. 

Do I have to close my old current account?

No, if you don't want to close your old account, you can do a partial switch instead. 

The main downside is that you aren't covered by the service guarantee, so you aren't automatically refunded for any charges incurred as a result of a direct debit or standing order failing to transfer properly.

It may also take longer than seven days to complete the switch. 

And, the best switching incentives are often reserved for customers who use the full switch (CASS). 

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