How to find the best current account for you
Do you need help finding the best current account for you? Latest Deals has produced this guide to walk you through the different current account options, how to compare their features and fees, and everything else you need to know to find the best current account for you.
What is a current account?
A current account is a type of bank account that you can use for everyday spending. You can set up standing orders and direct debits, have your salary, benefits or pension paid in, and make payments from your current account. They’re also known as personal bank accounts or standard accounts.
When you set up a current account, you’ll get a debit card. You can use this to withdraw money from a cash machine, or make payments including contactless payments in store and online.
A current account allows you immediate access to your money, and while you may use other financial products, such as savings accounts or credit cards, you can use your current account to make payments into them.
How do I open a bank account?
Setting up a current account is a straightforward process, and you can do so either in person at a branch, online or over the phone. You’ll need to fill in a form and provide proof of address and ID.
You can read our full guide about how to open a bank account here.
How to find the best current account
Before you open an account, it’s important to find the best fit for you. You’ll need to consider what type of current account works for your situation and needs, and then compare banks and building societies to find the best current account available.
First, you should think about what you need from a current account, and then look at the different types of current accounts available.
Different types of bank accounts
Firstly, you should consider what type of current account is suitable for you. This is usually easy to determine, as the options are quite simple. For example, if you want to open an account with someone else you’ll need a joint account, or if you have bad credit you’ll need a basic account.
Below are the various types of current accounts, and you can compare them to find the option that is best for you.
Personal current account
A personal account, or standard current account, is the most common type of current account. With a personal current account, you can do your day to day banking activities.
These accounts are offered by the majority of banks, and are usually free to open and come with no monthly fees.
High interest current accounts
A high interest current account offers a higher interest rate than other current accounts. These can be hard to find, and often there are limits to how much interest you can earn on your balance.
You can read more about high interest current accounts here.
Joint current account
If you have someone with whom you share financial responsibilities, such as paying rent with a partner or flatmate, you can set up a joint current account.
A joint current account will help you monitor ingoing and outgoing payments, and is useful for handling shared payments, such as bills or mortgage payments.
Most banks offer joint accounts, and we have a guide explaining more about joint bank accounts here.
Packaged current account
Packaged current accounts are current accounts that come with additional perks, such as travel insurance and breakdown cover.
You’ll pay a monthly fee with a packaged account, and in return you’ll get a current account with a range of extras.
You can learn more about packaged accounts here.
Reward current account
Reward current accounts are current accounts that come with rewards.
For example, with the Natwest Rewards Current Account, you can earn rewards that can be redeemed as gift cards or cash back with their retail partners.
Or, with the Halifax Reward Current Account, you can choose from monthly rewards including, renting two movies per month, having three digital magazine subscriptions or having £5 paid into your account.
However, reward current accounts typically come with a monthly fee. For example, the Natwest account is £2 per month, and the Halifax account is £3 per month.
As well as fees, there are also qualification criteria to get these accounts. These include having to spend a certain amount on your debit card per month, or keeping your account balance above a certain amount, or having to pay a minimum amount into the account each month.
Basic current account
Also known as bad credit accounts, a basic current account is designed for people with bad credit.
With a basic current account, you can withdraw and pay in money, and do most of the same things as with a standard current account. However, basic current accounts won’t come with overdraft facilities.
If you have a low credit score and you’re struggling to find a standard current account, you can read our guide on basic current accounts here.
Child current account
If your child wants to open a current account, there are special accounts designed for people under the age of eighteen.
Usually, child current accounts do not offer overdrafts, so you don’t need to worry about your children overspending and getting into debt.
Most major banks offer child bank accounts, and we have a guide that explores the best bank accounts for teenagers, which you can read here.
Current account comparison
Below is a table comparing current accounts from some of the most popular banks in the UK. It’s important to note that there are other current accounts available from these banks, and from others as well.
|Provider||Account type||Monthly fee||Interest rate||Arranged overdraft rate|
|Halifax current account||Halifax Current Account||Free||0%||39.9%|
|Nationwide current account||Nationwide FlexDirect||Free||2%||39.9% (0% for first year)|
|Barclays current account||Barclays Bank Account||Free||0%||35%|
|HSBC current account||HSBC Bank Account||Free||0%||39.9%|
|Santander current account||Santander Everyday Current Account||Free||0%||39.94%|
|Virgin Money current account||Virgin M Plus Account||Free||2.02% (up to £1,000)||19.9% - 39.9%|
|Natwest current account||Natwest Select Account||Free||0%||39.49%|
|Lloyds current account||Lloyds Classic Account||Free||0%||39.9%|
|TSB current account||TSB Spend & Save Account||Free||0%||39.9%|
|Monzo current account||Monzo Personal Account||Free||0%||19%, 29% or 39%|
|Starling Bank current account||Starling Bank Personal Current Account||Free||0.05%||15% - 35%|
|First Direct current account||First Direct 1st Account||Free||0%||0%|
|RBS current account||RBS Select Bank Account||Free||0%||39.49%|
|Bank of Scotland current account||Bank of Scotland Classic Account||Free||0.6%||39.9%|
Current account features
Different current accounts will have different fees and features. Once you know which type of current account is right for you, you should think about any features that are important to you. This could be an overdraft, or earning interest on your balance.
Once you’ve established what features you want your account to have, you can compare the bank accounts that offer what you need.
Bank account features you may consider include:
An overdraft allows you to borrow money on a short term basis. If you dip into your overdraft, your balance will be negative until you pay it back.
Some account types won’t offer overdrafts (such as child current accounts and basic bank accounts), but most current accounts do.
Usually, you will have an arranged overdraft with your bank account provider. This is a maximum amount that you can borrow, and you will usually only for the amount you’re overdrawn by.
Occasionally, you may be able to get an interest-free arranged overdraft, for example with a student bank account or as an incentive for a limited time.
If you think you will use your overdraft, you should check the interest rate you’ll be paying when you go into it. Below in the comparison table you can see the rates of some of the UK’s most popular banks.
Using an arranged overdraft shouldn’t affect your credit score, unless you go over your arranged limit.
You can learn more about overdrafts here.
Before deciding on a current account, you should check to see if the account comes with any fees.
It’s common for accounts to charge interest if you go into your overdraft. However, you should watch out for any additional charges.
Certain current accounts have a monthly fee. This is usually when there are extras with the account, for example reward current accounts and packaged bank accounts.
The majority of banks offer free current account options, so if you don’t want monthly fees in exchange for incentives, you should be able to find one.
You may want to consider a current account that offers interest on your balance.
You’ll see in our comparison table below that some current accounts offer interest on money in your account up to a certain amount.
Or, if you open a current account with a bank, you may then have access to savings accounts that you can link to your current account, and earn interest on money you deposit.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If it’s possible that you’ll spend more money than your balance and become overdrawn, you should bear in mind that current accounts with high interest rates often have punishing rates if you go overdrawn.
Some current accounts will offer rewards. Perks you can get range from cashback, money, vouchers, cinema tickets, and more.
Usually, Reward Current Accounts and Packaged bank accounts come with these bonuses. However, they sometimes have strict terms to qualify for them, or they come with monthly fees.
However, some personal current accounts may offer rewards and incentives for switching.
Current account incentives
When you switch to a new current account, you may be entitled to certain perks. These incentives are offered by banks to persuade you to pick them to set up an account with.
Incentive may include:
- Interest-free overdraft period
- Monthly credit
- Higher interest rate period
Incentives for switching can be tempting, but you should ensure the account is right for you before deciding to switch.
You can read more about how to switch bank accounts here.
Compare customer service
Before switching to or opening a new current account, it’s worth taking the time to look into the bank’s customer service options.
You can use the Which? best and worst banks comparison to review different banks. Their comparison table takes into account the application process, their methods of banking, their in-branch service, how well they handle complaints, how open they are about potential fees, how well they communicate, and their customer service.
In the below table, we’ve included the Which? quality rating Customer Score for some of the biggest banks in the UK. The Customer Score is an overall customer satisfaction rating, so it’s worth considering this when choosing a current account provider.
Which is the best bank to open an account with?
|Provider||Which? Customer Score||Contact number|
|Halifax customer service||70%||0345 720 3040|
|Nationwide customer service||74%||0345 730 2011|
|Barclays customer service||68%||0345 734 5345|
|HSBC customer service||65%||0345 740 4404|
|Santander customer service||63%||0800 912 3123|
|Virgin Money customer service||61%||0800 121 7365|
|Natwest customer service||69%||03457 888 444|
|Lloyds customer service||69%||0345 300 0000|
|TSB customer service||63%||020 3284 1575|
|Monzo customer service||82%||0800 802 1281|
|Starling Bank customer service||88%||020 7930 4450|
|First Direct customer service||79%||0345 610 0100|
|RBS customer service||61%||0345 724 2424|
|Bank of Scotland current account||64%||0345 721 3141|
How do you want to deal with your bank?
When choosing a current account, you should also think about how you want to deal with your bank.
If you want to have the option of visiting a physical branch and getting in-person help and advice, you should look at traditional banks.
With a traditional bank, you can set up online and mobile banking, and you still have the option to go to a branch in person if you want to. We have a full guide on online banking here.
However, if you’re not interested in going into a branch and want to bank exclusively online, you should consider a digital bank.
Digital banks are based solely online, and are often known as challenger banks. This is because they approach banking in a new way.
You can learn more about digital banking here.
Is it worth switching your bank account?
Switching bank accounts is a relatively easy process. So, if you’re not happy with your account, or you think you’d be better suited to a different account or provider, you should consider other options.
It usually takes less than a week to switch bank accounts under the Current Account Switch Service, and your new provider will handle switching your information and finances, and closing your old account.
You can learn more about how to switch your bank account here.
Is your money safe in a bank account?
Money in your bank account is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), if your bank is covered by this. The scheme protects your money up to £85,000 or up to £170,000 for joint accounts, per institution.
This means that if your bank were to go bust, you would get your money back, up to this amount.