Little-known ways to bank at the post office
It has become a familiar story – bank branches are disappearing from our high streets, and some customers fear being cut off from in-person banking. But many don't realise that the Post Office can provide essential banking services for almost everyone with a UK bank account.
The number of UK bank branches has declined rapidly over recent years – research from consumer group Which? says branches are now closing at a rate of almost 60 a month, while a report published in June by banking and financial services analysts DJB Research suggests as many as 2,400 are at risk of closure.
Yet not living near a bank branch doesn't necessarily mean you can't use in-person banking services. You can do most of your day-to-day banking at the post office for free, and it says 93% of the UK population live within a mile of their nearest branch (99.7% are within three miles). There are more than 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK – most are kiosks within other retailers, so use the branch finder tool to find your nearest.
What can you do at the post office?
If you can get to a post office, you can just pop in and:
- Withdraw cash from your usual bank account using your card
- Pay cash into your usual bank account using a card or paying-in slip
- Check your bank balance using your card
- Deposit a cheque using a paying-in slip (though Nationwide customers can't do this)
These banking services are available for free to customers of 28 banks, including all the high street big names such as HSBC, Barclays and NatWest. The Post Office says it's able to serve 99% of UK banking customers.
Before you go, check which banks and services are available at the post office you're heading to, to avoid a wasted trip.
The Post Office also offers business banking services, including withdrawals, deposits and change-giving services. Note that business banking services will incur a charge, which is set by the individual banks – check your bank's website for full details.
Is there anything you can't do at the post office?
You'll usually be able to use the services above exactly as if you were at your local bank branch. However, when paying in a cheque, note that the money will typically take a day longer to arrive in your account than it would if deposited at a bank branch.
Customers of some banks, including Bank of Scotland and Halifax, also won't be able to deposit money at the post office using a debit card and will need to bring a personalised paying-in slip from their bank instead – so check the policy for your bank first.
You also won't be able to access other services offered by your bank. These include:
- Opening new products
- Setting up standing orders
- Reporting a lost or stolen card
- Getting personalised advice
If you need to use these services and can't access your bank branch, check your bank's online, telephone or postal banking services.
Finding out a local bank branch is closing is hugely frustrating for many people, but if that's you, don't fear the worst. Not having a local bank shouldn't mean a choice between a lengthy trek to the next branch or being cut off from in-person banking – for the vast majority, nipping to your nearest post office counter will serve most of your everyday banking needs.