What are my banking options?

Bank and building society accounts and banking

With different types of bank accounts available offering different services it is important to ensure that you have the one that best suits your needs.

Basic bank accounts

Basic bank accounts offer fewer services than a current account but may suit people who are worried about becoming overdrawn. You are able to have your wages, benefits, cheques or cash paid into the account and pay bills by direct debit. You won't be given a cheque book but some banks will give you a debit card with which you can pay for items or use to get 'cashback' as long as there is enough money in your account.

Current accounts

Current accounts offer you more services than a basic bank account. These include direct debits for bill payments, debit cards, cheque books and an overdraft to an agreed limit.

Savings accounts

There are a number of different types of savings accounts. These offer different interest rates, different arrangements for how long you have to wait to access your money and how much money you need in the account to keep it open.

Deciding which account suits you

Firstly, think about what you are going to use the account for. Will it just be where your wages or benefits are paid, or will you want to pay bills, write cheques or perhaps save money? Ask your bank or building society's advice if you have an account but think that a different type or additional account might be better for you.

If you don't have an account and are thinking of opening one then shop around. Talk to different banks about what you would like to use your account for, they'll be able to advise you on what services they offer. If you'd like independent advice about different types of bank and building society accounts then contact the Money Advice Service on telephone

Opening an account

The bank or building society that you have chosen will help you to complete your application to open an account. You may be able to do this in the branch, online or over the phone. The application form should be available in alternative formats.

Usually banks require new customers to provide two forms of identification such as a passport and a recent bill showing the address. If you don't have this form of ID they should accept a letter from a responsible person who knows you, this could be your GP, a teacher, a social worker or a probation officer. If you don't have a passport or driving licence explain this to the bank and ask what alternative proof of identity they will accept.

Post Offices

Many bank and building society accounts can be accessed through your local Post Office. Speak to your bank to find out what services you can access in this way. If you have a chip and signature card rather than a chip and pin card you may find it more difficult to access your account. Contact your bank to find out what system they have in place to enable you to use the Post Office to withdraw money from your account.


If things go wrong or you feel that you've not received the treatment orservice that you should have, it might be worth complaining to your bank or building society through their formal complaints process. Details of how to complain should be available in the branches or on their website, if you can't find it ask them to send you a copy.

If the bank or building society doesn't respond to your complaint within eigh weeks or if you are not happy with their response then you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

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