How do I choose an account?

If you are travelling to UK for Work or Studying then you should start looking for a UK bank before you leave your home country. In most UK banks you should be eligible for a 'basic bank account'. A basic bank account will give you an ATM Card for cash machine card and facilities to transfer money in to your account.


If you need other services such as a cheque book, debit card or access to credit then you will need a current account.


Use our website to find the account that suits you best. It can sometimes be hard to find the relevant information on many of the banks web sites - don't be afraid to use the banks' Contact Us pages to ask what banking facilities each bank can offer you.


There are two types of bank account for managing everyday money: a basic bank account and a current account. Banks also offer a range of accounts designed for medium or longer-term savings. Savings or 'term' accounts usually pay more interest than current accounts.


Basic bank accounts
Basic bank accounts offer a convenient place to keep money you need for everyday use. You can arrange to have wages, State Pension and benefits or tax credits paid into one. You can also pay in cheques or cash free of charge, and set up 'direct debits' which pay regular bills automatically from your account.

With a basic bank account you get a cash card which you can use at a bank machine to withdraw cash. Some also offer a 'debit card' that you can pay for items with, and get 'cashback'; but with a basic account these will only work if there's enough money in your account.

You don't get a cheque book with a basic bank account, and you can't take out more money than is in the account ('go overdrawn'). For this reason basic bank accounts are useful for anyone worried about overspending.

Current accounts
Current accounts have more features than basic bank accounts. For example, they usually offer:

•cheque book
•cheque guarantee card (acts as a 'guarantee' so makes cheques more widely acceptable)
•debit card (some allow payments without checking your account)
•direct debits (automatic bill payments direct from your account)
•standing orders (regular set payments from your account to someone of your choice)
•BACS (Bankers' automated clearing service) - the facility to accept payments directly into your account (eg from your employer), or for you to make one-off payments to someone else out of the account
•overdraft facility - the bank may allow you to go overdrawn up to a certain amount; but you need to arrange this in advance and charges apply (you pay extra charges if you go overdrawn without an agreement)
Some current accounts pay interest on money you leave in the account, but the rate is usually low.

Savings accounts
Banks offer a wide range of savings accounts. The main differences between them are how quickly you can get at your money, the minimum amount required to keep the account open and the type and rate of interest paid.

Student account
These accounts are special current accounts only offered to students. A free overdraft facility may be available. However, some banks may not offer student accounts to international students.


Internet account
Internet accounts often offer the highest interest rates. It may also be easier to keep track of this account when you are not in the UK.
Some of these accounts allow you to withdraw money using a cash machine, while others will only allow money to be transferred to a bank's current account.
Although they often have different names, the internet accounts are usually run by a major bank or insurance company.



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