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Best Bank Accounts £100 bonus or up to 5% interest

Find out YOUR right account type

To ensure you get the account that's cheapest or most rewarding for you, it’s vital to work out what kind of customer you are. Consider your history and peruse your last few statements. This’ll tell you which type of account to plump for.

How switching works

Switching bank accounts

Switching accounts is quick, easy, and - for the majority - completely pain-free. It takes seven working days, and all your incoming and outgoing payments will be moved to your new account, by your new bank. They'll even close your old account for you.

If you haven't tried it, and your bank gives you lousy service, read below for full info, then take a look at our top pick accounts.

Find out more with our key facts:

Seven working-day switching successes

If you're unsure about taking the plunge and switching to a new account, maybe the feedback below will inspire you to think twice:

I switched from Halifax to Santander. 7 days, all DDs and SOs sorted and money moved over. Easy peasy.@NickMixmag via twitter

I've put off switching banks for years because of the hassle but the 7 day switch thing went very smoothly! Was completed earlier this month!Gemma via Facebook

Will I get a new account?

Two things matter...

  • The credit check. You must pass a credit score. If you've been rejected regularly, consider a Basic Bank Account.

  • Minimum monthly income. Most accounts need a certain amount paid in every month. It can come from any source - salary, pension, other earnings - though it effectively sets a minimum earnings threshold. A £1,000/month pay-in equals a £13,400 pre-tax salary.

    This needn't stay in the account, nor must you be in credit. So with some work, you can cheat this rule. Withdraw some money each month and pay it back in. If you earn £900 a month, pay your salary in, withdraw £100 and re-deposit it.

It's also worth noting that sometimes you can get extra cashback by signing up via special websites. See Top Cashback Sites for a full explanation and how to find which sites pay most. If you use travel, breakdown and mobile cover, see if a packaged account could save you money.

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Best buys: Top if you’re always in credit

If you never enter your overdraft, focus on earning the most interest on your positive balance. Most accounts only pay interest on a limited amount, so sweep the rest of this cash into the Top Savings Accounts to maximise your interest.

There's a variety of different deals available at the moment - we've listed in order of what we think are the best offers, but click the links or scroll through to find the one for you. NB. Most accounts require a minimum level of monthly income to be paid in.

First Direct

Top for customer service plus £100 bonus First Direct. 6% linked savings plus small 0% oVERdraft

  • Min monthly income
  • £1,000
  • Apply
  • In-credit interest: NONE
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% up to £250, 15.9% above that
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £25 paid item fee or bounced payment fee of £0, £10 or £25
1st
Customer services poll (In-credit)
Great 92%
OK 6%
Poor 2%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 1008

First Direct gives £100 to new customers switching to it, and has won every customer service poll we've done, with 92% rating it great.

You need to pay in a minimum of £1,000 per month to get the account for free (equivalent to a £13,400 pre-tax salary), and you must switch using First Direct's switching service. If your income's set to drop, see our full details (below) to find out how to avoid the fee.

It pays no in-credit interest, but does have a big 6% savings offer for its 1st Account customers, if you can save every month - the Regular Savers guide has full details. There's also a £250 0% overdraft - and you get these whether you pay in £1,000 or not.

Santander

Up to 3% interest & cashback on bills* Santander: You pay £2/mth fee - work out if it's worth it

  • Min monthly income
  • £500
  • Apply*
  • In-credit interest: 1% AER for balances over £1k, 2% over £2k, 3% for between £3k-£20k
  • Cashback: 1% on water, council tax & Santander mortgage, 2% on gas & elec, 3% on phone, internet & TV
  • Arranged overdraft cost: £1/day, capped at 20 days/month. 0% for 4mths after switching
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £5/day
2nd
Customer services poll
123 Acc (not whole bank)(in credit)
Great Santander 75%
OK Santander 21%
Poor Santander 4%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 1032

The Santander* 123 Account charges a £2 per month fee, but switch to it and pay in £500/mth to get interest that beats the current top savings accounts - 3% for those with £3,000 to £20,000 - plus cashback up to 3% on bills paid by direct debit. See below for full details.

We crunched the numbers, and a 'typical' billpayer with a Santander mortgage could make £115/year profit, before interest. Without a mortgage this drops to £50 - click below to see the full analysis of how much you can save. Big spenders can make almost £20/mth, as @KellyAJackson tweeted:

"I have a 123 account and I'm getting about £18 per month back after my fee - it's fantastic. £6 just for paying my mortgage."

Get 3% back on petrol spending too

There’s also a Santander 123 credit card* which pays 3% cashback on petrol, 2% in department stores and 1% in supermarkets. It has a £24 annual fee, but if you get the 123 bank account, this is rebated in the first year. Of course do ensure you repay the card IN FULL each month or its 22.8% representative APR. For full details see Petrol Credit Cards.

Co-op

£100 switch bonus + good service* Co-op current account plus: Also Gives £25 to charity.

  • Min monthly income
  • £800
  • Apply*
  • In-credit interest: None
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Set-up cost £20/year (doesn't apply under £200), 18.9% EAR
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £20/month service charge plus £15 unpaid item fee
3rd
Customer services poll (in-credit)
Great 70%
OK 26%
Poor 4%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 336

The Co-operative Bank* gives new customers a £100 plus £25 to charity if you use its dedicated switching service and pay in £800/mth or more.

Co-op also came second in our most recent bank customer service poll, with 75% of its customers rating it 'good'.

There's also a small £200 fee-free overdraft if you continue to pay in £800+ each month, though you'll still pay interest.

If you can't pay in that much every month, you can switch to Co-op's Standard Current Account* and still benefit from the £100 plus £25 switching bonus, though doesn't have a fee-free overdraft facility.

You’ll need to make a one-off deposit of £800 within 31 days of opening to qualify for the bonus, but after that there’s no minimum monthly pay-in requirement.

Halifax

£100 switch bonus + long-term £5/mth *Halifax: But has high overdraft fees

  • Min monthly income
  • £750
  • Apply*
  • In-credit interest: £5/month (AFTER tax)
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Up to £2k: £1/day. £2k-£2,999: £2/day. Over £3k: £3/day; £50 buffer
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £5/day
Customer services poll
Reward Acc (not whole bank) (In-credit)
Great 54%
OK 38%
Poor 8%
Date: Feb 2014| Voters: 469

Switch to Halifax's* Reward account and you'll get a £100 bonus, if you use its switching service to transfer two or more direct debits and close your old account. You must also pay in £750/mth (equiv to £9,150 a year).

The account also gives a flat £5 'interest' each month you deposit £750, remain in credit and pay out at least the two direct debits.

Lloyds

4% AER on up to £5,000Lloyds: Plus access to 4% regular saver

  • Min monthly income
  • £1,500
  • Apply
  • In-credit interest: 4% from £4,000 to £5,000, 2% from £2,000-£4,000, 1% under £2,000
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Up to £100 fee free, then 19.94% EAR + £6/mth fee
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £10 buffer, then £5/day under £25, £10/day for £25+ (max £80/mth), £10 unpaid item fees (max 3/day).
Customer services poll (In credit)
Great Lloyds Great 47%
OK Lloyds OK 41%
Poor Lloyds Poor 12%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 688

The Club Lloyds current account is one of the top interest payers, giving 4% AER interest on the whole balance if you have a spare £4,000 or £5,000 to put and keep in the account. However, the account requires you to pay in £1,500/mth (£5 fee if you don't) so it's not available to all.

The account also gives holders access to a 4% monthly savings account, and discounts on Lloyds' mortgage range.

Nationwide

5% in-credit interest plus 12 mth 0% overdraft*Nationwide:

  • Min monthly income
  • £1,000
  • Apply*
  • In-credit interest: 5% up to £2,500 in yr 1, 1% after
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% 1st 12/mths, 50p/day after
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £5/day (max £60/mth), £5 paid / unpaid item fees (max £35/mth). Total unarranged fees capped at £95/month
Customer services poll (In credit)
Great Nationwide 68%
OK Nationwide 27%
Poor Nationwide 5%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 1043

Nationwide's* FlexDirect account gives 5% in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500 for the first year.

It also has a 0% overdraft for the first 12 months, and reduced fees of 50p/day for arranged overdrafts after.

Alternative in-credit interest accounts

TSB and Clydesdale banks also give in-credit interest, but pay less than Santander, Lloyds & Nationwide and have no additional perks. We've done the maths and come up with the quick comparison below, so you can see the difference. Nationwide & Clydesdale require a £1,000 minimum monthly pay-in in order to be eligible for the interest, TSB Plus just £500.

Gross
Max balance
Interest earned/year (pre-tax) (1)
After basic rate tax
Additional details
Nationwide*
4.89%
£2,500
£122.50
£98
12 month, fee-free overdraft
Clydesdale Bank*
1.98%
£3,000
£59
£47
-
TSB Plus*
4.89%
£2,000
£98
£78
-

(1) This is the approx gross interest you’d earn if you were to hold the max balance. As each month’s interest will take you over the maximum balance, the AER advertised by providers doesn’t apply, as this assumes interest compunds.


No fee, travel insurance up to 75:

Nationwide

FREE annual European travel insurance*Nationwide:

  • Min monthly income
  • £750
  • Apply*
  • Bank account
  • In-credit interest: NONE
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 18.9%
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £15 paid / unpaid item fees, £20 usage fee (max £95/month)
  • Travel insurance
  • Cancellation: £5,000 (£50 excess)
  • Personal baggage: £1,500 (£50 excess)
  • Medical: £10m (£50 excess)
  • Full info: Key Facts PDF Policy Wording PDF
Customer services poll (In credit)
Great Nationwide 68%
OK Nationwide 27%
Poor Nationwide 5%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 1043

Nationwide's* FlexAccount gives free European travel insurance up to age 75 who switch and pay in £750+/mth. You can pay £20/year to upgrade it to worldwide, or £30 to family cover. If you're over £75, it's £50.

If you have a pre-existing condition, contact Nationwide as you may need a medical before getting cover and a charge could apply. This account is also one of our top pick packaged accounts.

Best fee-paying bank account

This is just the best fee-paying bank account, but it may not be the best one to suit your needs. See our Premier Current Accounts guide for a full overview of the best accounts.

Nationwide

£600 of high-end travel, mobile & breakdown for £120*Nationwide FlexPlus

  • Monthly fee
  • £10
  • £120
    year
  • Apply*
  • In-credit interest: 3% AER up to £2,500
  • Min monthly income: None
  • Arranged overdraft cost: £100 fee-free, 50p per day above that
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Up to £10 fee-free, then £5 per day (max £50/mth)

Nationwide's* FlexPlus is a packaged account where you pay a monthly fee and get 'free' insurance policies. It's one of our top picks - to see how it compares, see our Packaged Bank Account Analyser tool.

If you choose this account, you pay £120 a year for insurance for your family's smartphones (including iPhone 5), worldwide family travel insurance up to age 74 (usually costing double the account price alone) and UK & Europe breakdown cover. It's a lot cheaper than paying separately - IF you'll use the features.

Plus it comes with extended warranty cover for an additional 12 months on all new household electrical items between £50-£2,000. You'll also get 3% AER in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500, beating top savings accounts.

Specialised alternatives

  • Can't pay in a set amount each month?

    The Halifax* Reward account doesn't need regular monthly deposits, but unless you sometimes pay at least £750 in, you'll never earn any interest.

    This account requires you to have a good credit score, so is suitable for those who have wealth but not those struggling. If that's the case, you can also try...
  • Basic bank accounts

    These don't credit score you (though you need ID) as they don't offer overdrafts. Make sure you ask for their application forms, or you'll get standard ones for standard bank accounts, and then be rejected. Full help and tips in our Basic Bank Accounts guide.
  • Credit unions:

    Fed up with banks? Some of the 500 credit unions across the UK offer bank accounts (all do savings & loans). There's the same £85,000-per-person protection as banks. Find your nearest and full info in our Credit Unions guide.

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Best buys: Top if you go overdrawn

0% overdraftOverdrafts are debts, and often they’re much more expensive than credit cards. So avoiding being overdrawn is always a good policy. The costs below strictly refer to going overdrawn within your limit. If you go beyond that, you’ll pay through the nose (see Avoid bank charges).

If you are overdrawn, don't just tackle the symptoms. Also try using the free Budget Planner, give yourself a Money Makeover to tackle its causes and check the tips to avoid charges in the Bank Charges Compared tool.

Read our top overdraft need-to-knows before you start:

Try shifting the debt to a 0% credit card

Spend on a 0% for purchases card instead of a debit card/taking cash out

Keep maximum money in your account, for as long as possible

Check if your account has an overdraft buffer?

Get text alerts of when you are over your limit



First Direct

Small 0% overdraft if income's £1,000+/mthFirst Direct: £100 intro bonus, only interest free to £250

  • Min monthly income
  • £1,000
  • Apply
  • In-credit interest: NONE
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% up to £250, 15.9% above that
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £25 paid item fee. No unpaid fees
1st
Customer services poll(Overdrawn)
Great 92%
OK 6%
Poor 2%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters: 120

The First Direct 1st Account has a permanent £250 0% overdraft. Interest charges shoot up to 15.9% EAR above that. New customers also get a £100 intro bonus, provided they meet switching & income criteria.

First Direct has come top in every customer service poll we've done, including our latest in August 2013.

Nationwide

12mths 0% overdraft*Nationwide: also 5% in-credit interest

  • Min monthly income
  • None
  • Apply*
  • First year overdraft: 0% EAR
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 50p/day after year one
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £5/day (max £60/mth), £5 paid/unpaid item fees (max £35/mth). Total unarranged fees capped at £95/month
  • In-credit interest: 5% in year one on balances up to £2,500, 1% in subsequent years
Customer services poll (In-credit and overdrawn)
Great Nationwide 67%
OK Nationwide 26%
Poor Nationwide 7%
Date: Feb 2014 | Voters:1112

Nationwide's* FlexDirect account has a 0% arranged overdraft for the first 12 months, and reduced fees of 50p/day for arranged overdrafts after that.

Never stray more than £10 over your arranged overdraft limit, as there's a £5/day charge for each day you're over, capped at £60/mth. Nationwide'll also charge you £5 for each paid & unpaid use of the account.

There's no minimum monthly income needed to get the 12-month 0% overdraft, however, if you pay off your overdraft and get into credit, then you need to pay in £1,000 monthly to get any interest paid on your balance.

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Ethical bank accounts

Ethical current accounts - where providers behave ethically in terms of the environment, human rights and more - have jumped in popularity. Our main focus always is telling you the top deals based on what the accounts offer, but to match demand we've worked with Ethical Consumer to list the top accounts that also rate highly on their ethics.

EthicalConsumerScale

Free travel insurance with ethical bankOr cheap foreign spending

See the graph on the right for what Ethical Consumer's ratings mean.

  • Nationwide: Free travel insurance.

    Ethical 12.5/20 Rating
    Nationwide* gives free Europe travel insurance (up to 75) and has a decent customer service rating. Min salary: £9,200. See full details.
    Customer service: 67% great, 26% OK, 7% poor.
  • Norwich & Peterborough. Fee-free foreign spending.

    Ethical 12.5/20 Rating
    Norwich & Peterborough BS has unbeatable debit card exchange rates, but you need to meet some requirements to keep the account fee-free. See Cheap Overseas Spending for full details.
  • Co-operative Bank. Ethical banking but poor retail.

    Ethical 10/20 Rating
    Co-op's* Current Account Plus offers £100 + £25 to charity when you switch to them and pay in £800/month. The account doesn't offer many perks but it's Ethical Consumer's top pick for its unique campaigning brand, though unexpectedly the score isn't great at 10, as it's lowered by Co-op's retail arm.

    Important: Co-op's been in the news due to financial pressures over a hole in its finances - a rescue plan is under way. Yet the key fact is the first £85,000 of savings per person in the combined group (Co-op Bank, Smile, Britannia) is guaranteed by the Government-backed FSCS. This includes money in your current account. For how this works, see the full Savings Safety guide.
    Customer service: 70% great, 26% OK, 4% poor.

Other high-scoring ethical providers include Metro Bank (branches in/near London), Leeds BS*, Cumberland BS and Coventry BS, though most of these are for locals only.

Switched bank before?

In the UK, old, now-dormant accounts hold billions of pounds that lay unclaimed - including money from deceased relatives. It's straightforward to get it back, we've full details in the Reclaim Forgotten Cash guide.

Join in the Forum Discussion:
Best Bank Accounts
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What the * means above

If a link has a * by it, that means it is an affiliated link and therefore it helps MoneySavingExpert stay free to use, as it is tracked to us. If you go through it, it can sometimes result in a payment to the site. It's worth noting this means the third party used may be named on any credit agreements.

You shouldn’t notice any difference and the link will never negatively impact the product. Plus the editorial line (the things we write) is NEVER impacted by these links. We aim to look at all available products. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the top deal, it is still included in exactly the same way, just with a non-paying link. For more details, read How This Site Is Financed.

Duplicate links of the * links above for the sake of transparency, but this version doesn't help MoneySavingExpert.com: Clydesdale Bank, First Direct, Halifax, Leeds BS, Nationwide FlexAccount, Nationwide FlexDirect, Nationwide FlexPlus, Nationwide Select Credit Card, Santander 123, The Co-op Bank

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