Moving Your Current Account
The main product that people use from a bank is their current account. Many people need a branch near them. The Co-operative Bank and large building societies, such as Nationwide, offer a range of current accounts and have extensive branch networks. You can also open a current account at a lot of smaller local building societies and credit unions.
There's a list of alternative financial institutions that offer current accounts below. Information about the business practices of types of financial institutions can be found in our Where Can I Move To? section.
If you want to find out more, Ethical Consumer's free guide to banking current accounts rates 28 current accounts.
Switching your current account to a new bank generally requires three simple steps:
Apply to open an account with your chosen new provider. Depending on the bank, you can do this in a branch, online, by phone or by post. You'll usually need to provide two forms of ID - one with a photograph (e.g. a passport), the other a proof of address (e.g. an old bank statement or utility bill). Make sure that you let your new provider know that you want to switch as they should provide you with a switching guide that explains the process, and they may have a team that can handle the switch for you.
Fill out a switching form that your new provider offers. For this bit, you need the details of your old bank account (sort code and account number) and your National Insurance number. Returning this form to your new bank provider allows them to automatically transfer all standing orders and direct debits from your old account to your new one.
Finalise the switch. When you get your receipt of your switching form, your new bank will collect the list of all direct debits and standing orders from your old bank. Many providers will also send a letter to any people who make a regular payment into your old account asking them to redirect the payments to your new account. However, depending upon your employer, you'll probably have to fill out a form asking that they change the bank account your salary is paid into. If you receive pension credits (state pension, winter fuel allowance etc) you're advised to confirm this 'change of circumstance' to the Pension service.
Your new bank will then ask you to confirm the date at which you'd like to switch and if you'd like to close your old bank account and transfer any money from it. Once this form is returned, everything should be taken care of by your new bank.
Helpful tips when switching your current account:
Is it worth switching accounts?
Absolutely. By moving your account you will be directly supporting the ethical banking sector, and sending a message to your old bank that you will not accept their business practices.
Make sure that your new provider offers the right products for you and are the type of financial institution you want to support. It's important you make the most of the switch. If you currently use benefits provided by your existing bank - like travel insurance or breakdown cover -you should consider whether your new bank offers these facilities, or find out if you can buy them elsewhere. Be aware, too, that if your old bank holds deeds to a house as security for a loan there may be delays or costs to transfer.
Can I switch even though I am overdrawn?
Yes. Banks like to give overdrafts because it means that instead of paying you interest, they can charge you interest. As long as you have a good track record of using your overdraft sensibly, your new bank should consider taking the overdraft on.
Is switching difficult?
No. Many banks have switching services to help make the process easy, and most banks will take you step-by-step through the process.
A recent Which? survey found that 74% of people who had switched account said the process was easy, and 32% found it very easy. Though there's no guarantee there won't be any problems. It's a good idea to follow the process carefully to make sure that it runs smoothly. For example, make sure that your new bank has a complete and accurate list of the direct debits and standing orders you would like to switch to your new account. Always contact your bank if any problems arise.
Will it cost me money to switch?
No. Switching is almost always free.
How long will it take?
By law, you should be able to use your new account within 10 working days of completing the application. When your new bank has approved your application they must request the direct debit and standing order information from your old bank within three working days, and your old bank has a further 3 days to supply the information. The whole process should take no more than 3 weeks.
When should I close my old account?
It may be wise to keep your old bank account open until you are sure that the new one is up and running. When you do close it, remember to destroy your old bank cards and cheque books.
What happens if something goes wrong with the switch?
Any problems over the course of a switch over transfers of direct debits which cause you additional expense will have to be reimbursed by one of the banks. If they fail to reimburse you, raise a complaint with your bank and if they fail to deal with your complaint to your satisfaction refer to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Alternative banks that provide personal current accounts
- 1st Alliance (Ayrshire)
- 1st Class (Membership is open to royal mail employees)
- Bristol (Bristol)
- Capital (Edinburgh, Lothian and the Borders)
- Castle & Minster (Kirklees, Yorkshire)
- Clockwise (Leicester)
- Coastal Credit Union (Bournemouth and Poole)
- Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly)
- Hull & East Yorkshire
- JUST (Shropshire)
- Leeds City Credit Union (Leeds)
- Lewisham Plus (Lewisham)
- London Community (Tower Hamlets and Hackney)
- London Mutual (Southwark and Lambeth)
- North Wales
- North Yorkshire
- United Savings & Loans (Hampshire)
- Voyager Alliance (Membership is open to passenger transport employees in England and Wales and their family members who live in the same household.)
- White Rose Hemsworth and Wakefield
Moving Your Savings Account
Moving your savings account is easy. All you have to do is open up a new account and transfer your money from your old account.
There's a huge range of savings account providers, including credit unions, building societies, ethical banks, community development financial institutions and peer 2 peer platforms. You can find information about the business practices of particular banks and their products to help you choose the right new better bank for you in the Where can I move to? section. Contact details are also listed there.
When deciding between savings account providers, you should consider:
the returns you are looking for
how much risk you want to take on
how easily you want to be able to access your savings
the investment policy of the provider - does it match your values?
If you want to find out more about a particular bank Ethical Consumer's free guide to ethical savings accounts rates 42 banks and building societies.
You're not limited to moving just your current or savings account to an alternative bank. Most people use other financial services such as investment products like ISA's, insurance policies and mortgages. You could think about switching your provider for these services too. Ethical Consumer have compiled a useful set of ratings for a whole range of personal finance.Click here to visit their page .