Opening a high street bank account can be a stressful process but we're here to help.
Opening an account
Firstly, you should always shop around and find the best account that suits you, it could save you money. You commonly have to apply for the account first, giving some details like the following:
1. Personal details including your full name, nationality, contact details, date of birth, and national insurance number
2. Proof of your address: you can use a recent utility bill, rent statement or tenancy agreement, a bank statement or a council tax bill. You may also be asked to show how long you’ve lived there.
3. Proof of identity: you can use your passport or driving licence. If you don’t have these documents speak to the bank to see what alternatives they accept. Some banks may take birth certificates as proof for a child’s or student’s account.
Banks can choose to run a credit check depending on the type of bank account you would like to open to view your financial history. There are banks that allow accounts for customers with poor credit history so don’t be put off. If your application is accepted, the bank will notify you, you will be sent a debit card and personal pin number in the post. This information will normally be delivered in separate envelopes for security reasons. Please read the information carefully as you may need to activate your card online or by phone before you can use it. Some banks will open an account in person with you by visiting the branch, or you can do it via phone or online, all details above will need to be provided.
Up and running
Once your account is set up you can select to do online banking, this will give you access to your account 24/7 and will really help you manage your finances. Some banks are happy to set up a text messaging service to warn you if you are getting close to going overdrawn.
Please be mindful of your account and the money you have going in and out. Do not go overdrawn unless you have an overdraft arrangement with your bank. If you do go overdrawn without an arrangement you will receive bank charges and these can quickly mount up.
Reclaiming Bank Charges
You should contact you bank and explain your situation. Tell them if it’s the case, that the charges will impact your financial security or ask for the charges to be written off. It will be the banks decision but you need to ask the question. If your request is declined and you feel strongly about the matter advise your bank that you will take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service to further your complaint.
Closing a Bank Account
Closing a bank account should be a straight forward process. Contact your bank and tell them you want to close the account. It’s unlikely you’ll be charged, but if there’s an outstanding overdraft you’ll have to pay it off before the account is closed, this will not prevent you from opening another bank account. If you do have money owing talk to your bank, discuss a payment plan to avoid bank charges, ask for the overdraft to be written off, and remember to cancel any direct debits or standing orders you have set up to avoid payments being rejected which will cause further bank charges.
In the event that your bank closes your account down without your request, they should give you two months’ notice for current or instant access savings accounts.
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