• Bank accounts

    Bank accounts are designed to suit your day-to-day needs. This type of account is ideal for handling regular income such as your salary and any benefits you might receive. It also lets you manage your outgoings, e.g. paying bills.

    There are various types of bank accounts, so you need to look at your financial needs and habits to make sure you choose the one that's right for you.

  • Basic account

    A basic bank account gives you the essentials necessary for managing day-to-day finances. They don't usually allow you to go overdrawn and there may be charges if you do.

    Added value account

    Basic accounts might not always meet your needs so for a monthly fee you can often get more features and benefits. These might include an interest free overdraft, travel insurance, car breakdown cover, extended warranty cover, a legal helpline, card protection and identity theft protection. Paying for a bundle of benefits in this way could save you money over buying them separately. But, make sure the account you go for suits your lifestyle and is worth the fee.

    Accounts for young people

    If you're under 18, most banks have a variety of accounts available that can help you manage your money better. If you develop good money habits now, you'll be well on the way to financial security as you get older.

    Student accounts

    Starting college or university can be both an exciting and challenging time. That's why student accounts have great benefits to help you make the most of your money while you're there. Most banks offer an interest-free overdraft and many also offer benefits such as vouchers, shopping and travel discounts and mobile services, so you'll have all the help and support you need to balance your money and your student life. Just work out if their benefits are worthwhile - it may ultimately be cheaper to buy them yourself, or you may find you don't really need them anyway.

    Graduate accounts

    As a graduate, you need an account that gives you time to find your feet financially. Graduate accounts offer a range of benefits that help the transition period from student to young professional by offering some of the benefits you experienced as a student, such as low interest rates on overdrafts.

    Joint accounts

    A joint account is an account in the name of two or more people. They can be convenient for sharing outgoings such as shopping, household bills, mortgage or rent payments.Although there are benefits in opening a joint account, you should consider a few things before you open one. Remember, joint accounts require a lot of trust, and you must feel comfortable with the following:

    • Each person being able to take money out, write cheques, apply for an overdraft or use cash machines without needing the approval of the other person on the account.
    • Sharing the responsibility for any debts on the joint account, such as an overdraft. This is the case even if only one of you withdrew the money from the joint account.
    • Your financial situation and those of the other joint-account holder affecting each other in some cases. Some credit reference agencies create a financial link or 'association' when you set up a joint account for borrowing money. If one of you defaults on this joint debt, both of your credit ratings could be negatively affected.

    Accounts to meet religious needs

    Some banks may offer a bank account that's been developed to conform with religious law such as not earning interest on your account. Check to see if these accounts are offered to provide you with more options.

    It really depends on what you need but there's a bank account out there for everyone. A good way to work out the one that's right for you is to think about how you'll use your account and what you need it to do.

    When looking for your bank account, compare the following:

    Interest rates

    Different banks and types of bank accounts offer different interest rates. Find out the rate and how long it will last. An introductory rate may sound good but might not last long.

    Overdraft facility

    It can be useful to have a safety net in case the unexpected happens. Different accounts will have differently sized overdrafts available. It's worth remembering, though, that interest rates on an overdraft are usually higher than those for personal loans. Remember to watch for any fees if you go over your agreed overdraft limit, and check the terms and conditions for interest rates and charges.

    Charges

    We all get caught out from time to time with an unexpected bill or expense or if we don't receive an expected payment on time. If you're worried this might happen, make sure you find out if there are any charges that will apply if you do go overdrawn or over your agreed overdraft limit.

    Some accounts even charge for paying on your debit card, cash withdrawals, standing orders and direct debits, so it's worth finding this out in advance as you could be stuck paying a fee you hadn't expected.

    Features and benefits

    For a monthly fee, some banks offer a range of added value or packaged accounts that give you access to certain features and benefits. These can include things like mobile phone and travel insurance, car breakdown cover and card protection. Before you choose an account, ask yourself if you'd make the most of any of these benefits. In many cases, the value of the different benefits will far outweigh the cost of the fee.

    Student accounts are well known for offering freebies. Just work out if their benefit is worth while, or whether you really need them anyway.

    Transfers

    Sometimes you might need money quickly, and swapping money from one account to another could prove more complicated than you expected. Check how easy it will be to transfer money and how long it will take, particularly if you are making transfers between accounts held with different banks.

    Customer service

    Your bank needs to be available when and in a way that suits you. That may mean a 24-hour phone service, a local branch where you can speak to someone in person, online or mobile banking.

    Branches

    For the times when you do need to see someone in person, it's a good idea to make sure there's a branch near you, whether that's near home or work.

    Cash machines

    Although it's usually free, it's worth finding out if you will get charged to take out your money from a cash machine. Some machines may charge you, but they will always tell you and give you the option to cancel without charge. You should also check where you can use your card as some banks only let you withdraw cash at certain cash machines.

    Your money abroad

    Some banks charge you to use cash machines abroad, so you should think about alternative ways of making sure you have access to cash when you're abroad. On a short trip, you might want to take all your money as cash (but always keep it secure). For longer stays, travellers' cheques might be a better option.

    New to the UK

    If you're moving to the UK or have just moved, you may find it's easier to have a UK-based account. There are accounts designed with you in mind, with specific features that you'll benefit from while you're here. Some banks may also offer you 0% on currency exchanges.

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