Best bank accounts

Get up to £200 to switch, up to 7% interest or up to 1% cashback

If you're unhappy with your bank, switching to a new one is quick and easy these days – and now's a great time to do it as banks are currently offering up to £200 free cash for your custom. Yet you don't always need to switch to get a good deal – other accounts give cashback on spending or bills, or pay decent savings interest. This guide explains it all and helps you compare the top-pick accounts.

Other top MSE banking guides...
Packaged accounts: Save £100s on insurance
Need a business bank account?: For the self-employed
Basic bank accounts: For those with poor credit histories
Digital banking: Learn about app-based banks

What is a current account?

A current account is a type of bank account that keeps your money secure and helps you manage your finances. They give you an easy way to make payments to others (for example, standing orders and direct debits) and let people pay you (for example, your employer). You'll also get a debit card, which allows you to make payments and withdraw cash from a cash machine.

While you may use other money products, such as credit cards or savings accounts, it’s generally your current account that lets you make payments into each one, or pay bills, meaning everything works smoothly together.

Is my money safe?

Your money is secure – the Financial Service Compensation Scheme guarantees up to £85,000 per person, per financial institution. This means that if your bank ever went bust, you would be guaranteed your money back (up to £85,000).

How do I open a current account?

Opening a current account is an easy process. The simplest way is to complete an application form online, though many banks do allow you to open an account in person or over the phone if you prefer. The application form will ask you a number of questions regarding your personal and financial circumstances, and usually takes around 10 minutes to complete. Sometimes there could be extra steps – such as supplying ID or payslips – although this is rare.

You will also need to agree to the bank credit-checking you when you apply, regardless of whether or not you request an overdraft. This is because most banks use information from the credit reference agencies to confirm that you are who you say you are. This may seem unnecessary, but banks are legally bound to ensure they do not facilitate money laundering, and establishing a customer's true identity helps them to do that.

For full information on setting up an account, head to our How to open a bank account guide.

How to compare bank accounts

When considering which bank account to go for, it's important to consider first which features you want your account to offer. Some bank accounts will pay interest on your balance, while others won't offer any. There are accounts which offer features like cashback on household bills, travel insurance and 0% overdrafts. It's worth deciding which of these is most important to you, to help evaluate what works for you and what doesn't.

Also worth weighing up is how you open and manage the account. Do you want a bank account you can open online? Or are you more keen on being able to head into a branch to sort things out? 

And it's very important to check the account's eligibility criteria before applying. Certain bank accounts come with fees, or require you to pay in a certain amount each month to qualify for the features they offer. Others may need you to have a good credit score, so do check the small print before you apply.


Bank account need-to-knows

There are a few points you need to think about when choosing a new bank account to ensure you make the right selection:

  • Current Account Switch Guarantee.

    The Current Account Switch Service (CASS) process is straightforward and takes just seven working days. Just open a new account with your chosen bank, then request a switch through it – you'll usually be asked during the application if you want to switch. Provided both banks are signed up to CASS (most are), the switching service will close your old account and move your money, direct debits and standing orders across. It's worth downloading a few years' statements before switching – just in case you need them in the future.

    The switching service will also move payments meant to go into your old account into the new one, for instance, your salary. If something goes wrong, the bots behind the scenes sort it, so for at least three years any money paid into the old account or wrongly earmarked to come out of that account is transferred to the new one. Also, if you're hit with any charges due to an error in the switch, this should be refunded by the new bank.

    More than 40 providers are signed up to CASS:
    • Acorn Account
    • AIB (NI)
    • Allied Irish Bank (GB)
    • Arbuthnot Latham & Co
    • Bank of Ireland UK
    • Bank of Scotland
    • Barclays
    • Barclays Private
    • C. Hoare & Co
    • CardOneMoney
    • Chase Bank
    • Clydesdale Bank
    • Co-operative Bank
    • Coutts
    • Coventry Building Society
    • Cumberland Building Society
    • Danske Bank
    • First Direct
    • Habib Bank Zurich
    • Halifax
    • Hampden & Co
    • Handelsbanken
    • HSBC
    • HSBC Private Bank
    • Investec Bank
    • Isle of Man Bank
    • Lloyds Bank
    • Lloyds International
    • Lloyds Private Bank
    • Metro Bank
    • Monzo
    • Nationwide Building Society
    • NatWest
    • NatWest International
    • Reliance Bank
    • Royal Bank of Scotland
    • Santander
    • Smile
    • Starling Bank
    • Tesco Bank
    • Think Money
    • Triodos Bank
    • TSB Bank
    • Ulster Bank
    • Unity Trust Bank
    • Virgin Money
    • Weatherbys Bank
    • Yorkshire Bank

    Quick questions

    • No. Otherwise known as continuous payment authorities, these are set up using your debit or credit card details, as opposed to your account number and sort code. They're often used for memberships, online subscriptions and payday loan repayments. The company will ask for the long number across your card, giving it permission to take cash from your account.

      If you switch, you need to give your new card details to any companies that take money from your card in this way.

    • An active direct debit is one that has paid out in the last 13 months or – if it has never paid out – is less than 13 months old.

      Direct debits have this dormancy rule in place, so old direct debits can remain active even if you're not paying out on them every month in case they're needed again, or they're there for annual payments. But after 13 months, your bank may remove them from your account or mark them as inactive.

    • Yes, if you switch via CASS (which you usually need to do in order to get any switching incentives). As part of the process, your new bank will automatically close it and also move all payments, for example, direct debits out or salary in, across.

      But if you'd rather keep your old account open, or your old or new bank is one of the few not signed up to CASS, you'll need to use the older, slower and more complicated system. Your payments will still be switched over, but there's less protection if anything goes wrong and it's likely you won't get any of the switch incentives.

    • If you want to join finances with a partner, it's possible to use seven-day switching to switch a sole account to a joint account. Do remember that this'll link your finances, so their credit record could affect yours – always think carefully before doing so.

      This doesn't work the other way round, so you can't switch a joint account to a sole account under seven-day switching.

    • Most other products that you hold are totally separate, so moving your current account won't affect the others and it's fine to do. In fact, even if you have a direct debit set up to pay them, that'll automatically be moved to your new bank account for you, so it shouldn't put you off switching at all.

      There are a few special regular savings accounts that are linked to current accounts (where you get a special rate if you've got the current account) that you could lose if you move bank, but you'll know if you've got one of those and your new bank may offer something similar.

    • Unlike with current accounts, there's no switching service for savings accounts. Yet it's easy to move your savings – simply open the new savings account and then transfer your money across.

      We're currently in an era of fierce competition when it comes to interest rates on savings, with the top rates changing frequently. See Top savings for full info.

  • With most of the top accounts in this guide, you'll need to pay in a certain amount each month in order to qualify, get the perks and/or avoid a fee. But if you can't afford the minimum, don't fret – there's a way to play the system.

    Say you need a minimum £1,000, but only have £500 coming in. If you pay £500 in, withdraw it or move it to another bank, then pay it back in... BINGO, that's your £1,000.

    Note: We've had reports some banks may not accept you when you apply if your income's not high enough to meet the minimum monthly pay-in. 

    These are the minimum pay-ins for bank accounts we mention in this guide, plus details of what happens if you miss that minimum payment:

    Top bank accounts ranked by minimum pay-in

    Account Min monthly pay-in Equivalent salary/year needed (1) What if I don't pay in this much?
    Virgin Money current account None N/A N/A
    HSBC Advance None N/A N/A
    First Direct 1st Account None (2) N/A N/A
    Nationwide FlexPlus None N/A N/A
    Santander 123 Lite £500 £6,000 No cashback paid
    Barclays Blue Rewards £800 £9,700 No rewards earned
    Co-op Bank Everyday Rewards £800 £9,700 No rewards earned
    Bank of Scotland Vantage £1,000 £12,400 No interest paid
    Nationwide FlexDirect £1,000 £12,400 No interest paid
    NatWest Reward £1,250 £16,700 Transferred to NatWest Select account
    RBS Reward £1,250 £16,700 Transferred to RBS Select account
    Halifax Reward £1,500 £21,200 £3/month fee and no reward that month
    Club Lloyds £2,000 £30,200 £3/month fee

    (1) This is an estimate and will be higher if you have anything taken out of your pay like pension or student loan contributions. (2) No monthly min but must pay in £1,000+ once to get switching bonus.

  • 40% overdraft to 0% overdraft.

    Almost all major banks now charge about 40% interest for overdrafts: double what it costs to borrow on a high street credit card. But a few banks charge less, and some even offer 0% overdrafts – so if you're in the red, have a look at the top overdrafts section below for the cheapest options.

    It's worth noting that you CAN still switch if you're overdrawn – but it's tricky as it depends on the new provider's lending procedure. For example, it could decide not to offer you an overdraft, or could offer you a lower limit. Yet don't let that put you off trying – many banks have eligibility checkers so you can see if you're likely to get the overdraft before applying.

    For more help if you're struggling with your overdraft, see our full Cut overdraft charges guide.

  • Banks will use this credit check, plus data on your application form, to decide whether to accept or reject you for the account you applied for.

    If you're rejected, it could be for one of many reasons, for example... you've got a poor credit record, you've had past dealings with that bank where you've missed payments or the bank doesn't think you'll be a profitable customer.

    But don't assume because one bank doesn't want you, none of the others will. All the same, don't just apply everywhere as it can do more damage to your credit record.

    Instead, you need to do two things – first, ask the bank why it rejected you. Its answer may be vague, but it should tell you if you were rejected because of your credit record.

    Then, check your credit files with the three credit reference agencies to spot any problems or possible errors. Our Credit report guide tells you how to do this for free and how to correct errors.

    Can't get a standard bank account? Try a basic one

    Sadly, as many as one million people in the UK are rejected from mainstream bank accounts, often due to past credit problems. Yet as long as you can prove your identity and address, you should be able to get a basic account – here, you're not credit-checked as strictly, so most can get one.

    You can do most of the same things as with a normal bank account, except you won't get an overdraft. Read full help and tips in our Basic bank accounts guide.

  • Packaged accounts can be great, saving some £100s a year, as for a monthly fee you get a host of insurance policies – typically travel, breakdown and mobile phone insurance.

    But they can also be worthless if you don't need the cover or you could have got it cheaper elsewhere, so check first.

    For more help on whether this type of account is right for you, see our Best packaged accounts guide.

  • We've said it many times, but switching bank accounts is quick and easy. And with multiple banks lining up to pay for your business with FREE cash and other perks, why stop at just one switch?

    We get so many MoneySavers writing in to tell us how lucrative their success stories are that we've started referring to them as 'super switchers' – here's one of our latest successes to whet your appetite...

    My wife and I first switched our current accounts in 2015. It was really simple, so we've been doing it ever since. We've received nearly every switch bonus since then, using multiple accounts so we could keep the perks we liked while switching the rest around. In total we've earned £5,300 between us over a seven-year period. Michael, via email

    For more info on how you can safely play the system and bag multiple freebies – and perhaps even become a 'super switcher' yourself – see Can you make £1,000s by repeatedly switching banks?

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Top bank accounts that pay free cash for switching

To qualify for switch bonuses you must close and switch an old account using the Current Account Switch Service – you do this through the new bank you're switching to. The service automatically moves across all payments, direct debits and standing orders to the new account.

It's also worth downloading a few years' statements from your old bank before switching – just in case you need them in the future.

Important: You must use the official Current Account Switch Service to qualify for these offers (see which banks are signed up). Also, the accounts you're switching between must be with different banks.

Top bank accounts for new switchers


NatWest Reward*

Service rating: 69% 'great'



RBS Reward*
Service rating: 47% 'great' 

Account info:

- Minimum pay-in: £1,250/month (none for the Select account)

- Overdraft: 39.49% EAR variable

New. Switchers get £200 FREE cash, plus up to £36/year cashback.

On top of the upfront switch cash, NatWest Reward* and RBS Reward* give £3 every month you use their app and pay out two £2+ direct debits (it's £5/month, but with a £2 monthly fee). Or if you just want the £200, you can switch to the fee-free NatWest Select*RBS Select* or Ulster Select accounts. 

With all those accounts (except Ulster), you can open a linked 6.17% regular saver and put in up to £150/month.


Who can get the bonus? 
- You can't have had switch cash from NatWest, RBS or Ulster since 1 January 2020.

How to get the £200 bonus:

- Open the account online or in-app.
- Switch in an account from a different bank.
- Pay in £1,250+, keep it there for at least 24 hours, and use the app within 60 days.
- Wait seven days for your £200.

Lloyds Bank.


Club Lloyds

Service rating: 59% 'great' 


Account info:
- Minimum pay-in: £2,000/month (£3/month fee otherwise)

- Overdraft: 27.5% EAR variable (0% up to £50)

New. FREE £175, plus choose a reward: 12 months' Disney+ (with ads), six cinema tickets, a Coffee Club & Gourmet Society membership, or a subscription to a magazine.

On top of the upfront switch cash, the Club Lloyds account gives you the choice of one of the rewards above each year. Do note there's a £3/month fee unless you pay in £2,000+ a month. You also get access to a linked regular saver paying 6.25% fixed interest on up to £400/month.


Who can get the bonus?

- You can't have had switch cash from Lloyds or Halifax since April 2020.


How to get the £175 bonus:
- Open the account online, by phone or in branch.

- Switch in an account from a different bank, including 2+ direct debits, by Thursday 28 March.

- The £175 is paid within 10 working days of the switch starting.

All have Financial Services Compensation Scheme savings protection of up to £85,000. NatWest's is shared with Ulster Bank. Our service rating is from our January 2024 poll of 4,200 people.

Top bank accounts for longer-term rewards

Reward current accounts give free cash as a percentage of what you spend on bills, or pay you cashback when you spend, pay out direct debits or use digital banking. However, many come with a fee, so it's important to work out whether the cashback you'll earn will outweigh this.

Top bank accounts for cashback



Santander Edge*

Service rating: 69% 'great'


Account info:

- Monthly fee: £3

- Minimum pay-in: £500/month

- Overdraft: 39.94% EAR variable

Get 1% cashback on bills and supermarket/travel spend (£3/mth fee) and no fees to spend/withdraw cash abroad.

With the Santander Edge you get 1% back on water, energy, council tax, mobile, phone, broadband and paid-for TV bills, as well as 1% on most supermarket and travel spending. You can earn up to £10/month for each – so £20/month max.


You get a linked 7% easy-access saver (max £4,000, can't be opened jointly), plus the debit card is fee-free for overseas spending and ATM withdrawals. To get the interest and cashback, you must pay in £500+/month and have 2+ direct debits.


Got high bills and/or supermarket/travel spend? The Edge Up could be worth a look as it gives up to £15/month back for both, though there's a higher £5/month fee and you can't open the 7% easy-access saver with this account.



Chase current account*

Service rating: 96% 'great'

Account info:

- Minimum pay-in: None

- Overdraft: None

Get 1% cashback for at least a year, no fees to spend/withdraw cash abroad, plus 4.1% interest.
The app-only Chase current account* gives a top rate of cashback on most debit card spending (max £15/month), though there are some exclusions. There's no minimum pay-in required in the first year, but you'll have to pay in £500+/month after that to continue getting cashback. To use Chase, you'll need a device with at least iOS 14.1 or Android 8.1.


The debit card is fee-free to use overseas, plus you get access to a linked saver paying 4.1% – a decent rate, though it can be beaten – and a 'round-up' account paying 5% (so spend £1.45 and 55p is saved in the 5% account). You also get 1% interest on the balance in the current account – a nice boon, though not a table-topping rate.

Next best accounts that offer cashback

Halifax Reward

Service rating: 55% 'great'

Get £5/month when you:
Pay in £1,500+/month (there's a £3/month fee and you won't get the £5 if you don't), stay in credit and either a) spend £500+/month on your debit card OR b) keep a constant £5,000+ in your account each month.

NatWest Reward*

Service rating: 69% 'great'


RBS Reward*

Service rating: 47% 'great'


Get up to £3/month when you:

Pay in £1,250+, pay out 2+ direct debits of £2+ and log in to its mobile app each month. You get £5/month back, but there's a £2/month fee.


Plus, you can currently get £200 FREE cash if you switch.


All have Financial Services Compensation Scheme savings protection of up to £85,000 (Santander's is shared with Cahoot, Chase's is shared with JPMorgan, and NatWest's is shared with Ulster Bank). Our service ratings are from our January 2024 poll of 4,200 people.

Top bank accounts that pay savings interest

You don't have to switch to the accounts below to get the interest. And for comparison, the top easy-access savings deal open to all pays 5.15%. 

Top bank accounts for interest



Barclays Bank Account

Service rating: 30% 'great'

Account info:

- Interest: 5.12% AER variable
- Minimum pay-in: £800/month

- Overdraft: 35% EAR variable

5.12% interest on £5,000 – though there are a few hoops to jump through.
If you open a Barclays Bank Account and then join its Blue Rewards scheme, you can then apply for the linked 5.12% Rainy Day Saver account. You can pay in more than £5,000, but anything above will get just 1.16% interest.

Blue Rewards requires you to pay £800+ into the current account, sign up to online or mobile banking and pay a £5/month fee (though it pays £5 cashback each month you pay out 2+ direct debits – so the fee is essentially waived).





Account info:

- Interest: 4.35% AER variable (max £500,000)

- Minimum pay-in: None

- Overdraft: 24.9% EAR variable

4.35% interest from app bank Kroo.

Kroo* pays a decent rate, but unlike the others in this section, it's paid on your current account balance, rather than on a linked savings account.


Kroo may be an unfamiliar name, but – like all banks in this guide – it has the full UK savings safety protection, so anything under £85,000 is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.



Chase current account*

Service rating: 96% 'great' 

Account info:

- Interest: 4.1% AER variable on the linked savings account (max £500,000), 1% AER variable on the current account (no max)
- Minimum pay-in: None

- Overdraft: Not available

4.1% interest, 1% cashback + 5% 'round-up' interest.

Open a Chase current account*, then open the 4.1% savings account from within the app (needs at least iOS 14.1 or Android 8.1). It's a decent rate, though it can be beaten.

Yet with Chase, you also get other rewards. The current account gives 1% cashback for at least a year on most debit card spending (max £15/month). There's no minimum pay-in required in the first year, but you'll have to pay in £500+/month after that to continue getting cashback.


You also get fee-free spending and withdrawals abroad, 5% interest on small amounts through its 'round-up' feature, and 1% interest on the balance in your current account – a nice boon, though not a table-topping rate.


All have Financial Services Compensation Scheme savings protection of up to £85,000. Our service ratings are from our January 2024 poll of 4,200 people.

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Top accounts if you're overdrawn

Overdrafts are debts – one of the most expensive, even if it's an arranged overdraft. Don't just tackle the symptoms of your overdraft, though – it's important to try to pay it off. See our full Cut overdraft costs guide for help with this.

These accounts come with an overdraft facility which could help you cut costs over the long term, though do remember that you're not guaranteed to get an overdraft when you apply. We've included info on how to find banks' overdraft eligibility checkers (if it has one), which should help you find out if it's likely before you apply.

Top bank accounts with low-cost overdrafts

First Direct.


First Direct 1st Account*

Service rating: 91% 'great' 


Account info:

- Minimum pay-in: None
- Overdraft: 39.9% EAR variable (0% up to £250)

Ongoing £250 interest-free overdraft and TOP service.
First Direct's 1st Account* offers many a £250 0% overdraft, though it's not guaranteed – use its eligibility checker before applying (just scroll down the page to the 'how do overdrafts work' section and it's linked from there). Expensive interest kicks in above that, so this account's likely only good for you if use your overdraft for limited amounts.

Nationwide. A good way to bank.


Nationwide FlexDirect

Service rating: 84% 'great'

Account info:

- Minimum pay-in: None
- Overdraft: 39.9% EAR variable (0% in year 1)

A year's interest-free overdraft, with a limit up to £1,500.
Newbies to the Nationwide FlexDirect account can get a 0% overdraft for a year. As part of your application Nationwide will do a 'soft credit search' to check if you qualify; you can then bail out if you won't get it – with no effect on your creditworthiness. After a year at 0% you'll start paying a hefty rate of interest, so clear as much of your debt as you can by then.

Starling Bank.


Starling Bank*

Service rating: 90% 'great'

Account info:

- Minimum pay-in: None
- Overdraft: 15%, 25% or 35% EAR variable

No 0% overdraft, but a chance of a low interest rate.
Starling Bank* has tiered overdraft rates, and all tiers are cheaper than most other banks. Plus, you can control your overdraft limit in its app, and set up spending notifications if you're about to go into (or are already in) your overdraft. The rate and limit you get depends on your credit score – use its eligibility checker before applying to get an indication. As an added boon when not overdrawn, Starling pays 3.25% interest on balances up to £5,000 in the current account.

All have Financial Services Compensation Scheme savings protection of up to £85,000 (First Direct's is shared with HSBC). Our service ratings are from our January 2024 poll of 4,200 people.

Top bank account for insurance

Below is our top-pick packaged bank account which, for a monthly fee, offers various insurance perks. Always check if it's cheaper to buy the insurance elsewhere before applying, and for more options see Packaged bank accounts.

Top packaged bank account with insurance

Virgin Money.


Virgin Money Club M

Service rating: 43% 'great'


Account info:
- £12.50/month fee
- Minimum pay-in: None
- Overdraft: 19.9%, 29.9% or 39.9% EAR variable

Get £500+/year of travel, mobile & breakdown cover for £150/year.
The Virgin Money Club M has the lowest fee of our top-pick packaged accounts, and is especially good for families as you get cover for all family phones and gadgets, plus worldwide family travel insurance (max age 75). You also get UK breakdown cover for the account holder(s).



See full What the insurance covers info.

Virgin Money has Financial Services Compensation Scheme savings protection of up to £85,000, shared with Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank. Our service ratings are from our January 2024 poll of 4,200 people.

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account.

Full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons are in our Top cashback sites guide.

Want to complain about your bank account?

If your bank has charged you the wrong amount, taken the wrong amount in payment or its service has been atrocious, then you don't have to suffer in silence.

It's always worth trying to call the bank first to see if it can help, but if not, you can use free complaints tool Resolver. The tool helps you manage your complaint, and if the company doesn't play ball, it also helps you escalate your complaint to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Bank account FAQs

Here are some common bank account related queries. If you've got a question we've not answered below or in the text above, suggest a question in the MSE Forum.

  • What do I do if I've sent money to the wrong account?

    When sending money to a different account, many banks now use the Confirmation of Payee scheme, which checks whether the name of the account you are sending money to matches up to the sort code and account number you type in. If the name doesn't match, the bank will let you know so you can amend any errors before making the payment.

    If your bank isn't signed up, it'll be using the old system, where the only information it'll use is the sort code and account number, meaning if these details are wrongly entered the cash could end up in a stranger's bank account.

    If you end up sending money to the wrong account, here's what you need to do and what happens then:

    • Contact your bank straightaway to let it know about the mistake. While banks can't stop payments that have already been made, contacting it as soon as possible will help speed up the process of sorting it out. It's a good idea to keep a note of all correspondence you have with the bank and also to make a note of exactly when the error was made. If you know the mistake you made (for example, you used the wrong sort code), then make a note of that too.

    • Your bank will act within two working days of you telling it. And it doesn't matter if you discovered your mistake after a week or even a year... though it's good financial sense to keep an eye on your account(s) to make sure your payments have reached the right recipient.

    • As long as there are no disputes, your money will be returned within 20 working days. Where there's clear evidence of a genuine mistake, your bank will contact the receiving bank on your behalf requesting that the money isn't mistakenly spent by the person who accidentally received it, and you'll get your money back.

    If there are issues, for instance if the person you accidentally sent it to refuses to return it, you'll be notified of the outcome of the bank's investigation within 20 working days from the point that you let it know.

  • How does it work with reward payments and tax?

    As well as offering in-credit interest or bonuses for switching, some current accounts now pay rewards for holding the account and meeting certain criteria, such as paying in a set amount each month or having direct debits.

    A few of these, such as the Halifax Reward Account, are paid with basic-rate tax already deducted. Others are paid without any tax removed.

    These payments don't count as savings income for tax purposes and instead are classed as 'annual' or 'miscellaneous' payments. This means that the rewards don't count towards your personal savings allowance, and they're liable to be taxed.

    If you're a non-taxpayer, you should claim back any tax taken using the R40 form. Higher and additional-rate taxpayers may need to pay more via tax returns.

  • Is there a way to track down old bank accounts?

    In the UK, old, now-dormant accounts hold millions of pounds that lay unclaimed – and if you've switched several times, you may still have old accounts that were never closed.

    It's straightforward to get it back – we've full details in the Reclaim forgotten cash guide.

  • What's the difference between a direct debit, standing order and recurring payment?

    A direct debit is where you give permission to a company to take money from your bank account, and the amount can vary depending on what you're paying for. You have very little control over how much money is taken, though the company you're paying will tend to send you a statement informing you of how much will be taken and when. And the direct debit guarantee means you're entitled to a refund if there are any errors in the payment.

    A standing order is an instruction from you, to your bank, to pay a fixed amount of money to an account. You can send a standing order to any account, bill, mortgage payment or organisation. You have full control over how much and how frequent the payments should be, as you set them up yourself.

    A recurring payment (or continuous payment authority – CPA) is where you give a company your card details, and they use them to set up a regular or continuous payment from your card. You'll know if it's a recurring payment if you give the company your 16-digit card number, rather than your bank account number and sort code.

    They're usually used if you're paying for a subscription, like a TV streaming service or recipe box. With these payments you have very little control over how much or when they'll take out your money, and you usually won't be informed that the company will be taking a payment.

    However, you can ask your bank to cancel them, as well as asking the retailer if you want to end the service. See Recurring payments.

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