First Direct has widened the availability of its highly-rated current account to include those on lower incomes.

The bank's 1st Account* is's top pick for those always in credit, as new customers get a £100 bonus for switching, if they pass a credit check. First Direct has also won all our customer service polls so customers like it (see the Best Bank Accounts guide for all our top picks).

Those switching to First Direct will only need to deposit a minimum of £1,000 a month, down from the previous £1,500.

This is the equivalent monthly income for most, after tax is deducted, of earning £13,600 a year, taking into account April's tax changes. The previous annual figure was £23,100.

While this change comes in from 1 April, the bank says anyone opening an account today is unlikely to make their first payment before this date, so it is effectively in place for new applicants.

Customers must switch at least two direct debits in the first three months to qualify for the account perks. The account also comes with a £250 0% overdraft. Beyond that, it charges 15.9% EAR.

Existing customers will see their minimum monthly deposit reduced from £1,500 to £1,000 from 1 May.

Beware not paying in at least the minimum. If you fail, you'll be charged £10 each month, unless you've savings, insurance, a mortgage or credit card with First Direct.

Mark Mullen, CEO of First Direct, says: "We now feel the time is right to open our doors a little wider."

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