The nature of these accounts differentiates them from savings accounts, which could also be considered bank accounts but are not generally used directly for receiving and spending cash. A current account will typically give you a cash and/or debit card and a chequebook and may also have an agreed overdraft facility (essentially a form of credit should you need it).
Aside from the basics, there are many options to choose from when it comes to how you want to run your account – which is only natural as everyone has different needs and desires. These are catered for through a variety of accounts and account features.
Some current accounts offer a high rate of interest, but this is usually only payable on the first few thousand pounds in the account and will require a certain amount of money to be paid in per month. Most accounts can be accessed in various ways, such as in branch, via the internet, by post and by telephone. Some accounts can also be accessed at the Post Office and many can now be operated via smartphone app.
Having a bank account can be a gateway to accessing other financial products, such as credit cards or mortgages where the providers need to be sure that repayments can be made. They will probably look at how you have run your bank account as part of their credit checking process.
Access to the account
Make sure you choose an account that you can access how you need. Some accounts are only accessible via internet and phone, while others allow you to deal with your account through branches and even the Post Office. This can be especially handy for paying in cheques or cash.
While most banks will now offer contactless as standard on their debit cards, this easy payment method may not be available with every account. So, if you want to be able to spend small amounts of money without having to put in your PIN number, you may want to ask your bank whether they allow contactless payments before committing.
Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that your account allows access from a wide range of cash machines and that these transactions are free. Just about all bank accounts give you a card so you can get money out of cash machines.
Most transactions will be free of charge, but if you use cash machines in places like petrol stations, amusement arcades or nightclubs, you may be charged. It’s worth understanding what type of cash card you’ll get, and whether it is widely accepted, e.g. at Link machines.