Compare Basic Current Accounts

  • Basic current accounts are 'no-frills' products that only provide everyday banking services
  • Use our quick and easy comparison tool to compare basic bank accounts available from high street banks and internet providers
  • Compare up-to-date information on account features to find your ideal account

What type of current account are you looking for?

7 products found
  • Starling Bank logo

    Starling Bank Personal Current Account

    • Monthly Fee
      Free
    • Interest Rate
      0.05%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      15.0%
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      None
  • thinkmoney logo

    thinkmoney Account

    • Monthly Fee
      £10
    • Interest Rate
      0%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      No overdraft
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      None
  • Barclays logo

    Barclays Bank Account

    • Monthly Fee
      Free
    • Interest Rate
      0%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      35.0%
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      None
  • TSB logo

    TSB Spend & Save Plus Account

    • Monthly Fee
      £3
    • Interest Rate
      0%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      39.9%
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      None
  • TSB logo

    TSB Spend & Save Account

    • Monthly Fee
      Free
    • Interest Rate
      0%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      39.9%
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      None
  • Santander  logo

    Santander 1|2|3 Lite Current Account

    • Monthly Fee
      £2
    • Interest Rate
      0%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      39.94%
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      £500
  • Card One Money logo

    Card One Money Account

    • Monthly Fee
      £12.50
    • Interest Rate
      0%
    • Arranged Overdraft Rate
      No overdraft
    • Minimum Monthly Credit
      None

Please note: Our comparison service features a selection of providers from whom we receive commission. This table is initially ordered according to our commercial arrangements. You can use the options above the table to order it according to various criteria.

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Information written by Hannah Harper Last updated on 21 September 2021.

What is a basic bank account?

A basic bank account is also known as a basic current account, a cash account, or a foundation account. It’s a type of current account created specifically for people who have found it hard to get approval for a standard current account. A basic bank account is fee-free and allows you to pay money in and take it out, set up regular outgoing payments, and withdraw cash from a cash point using a debit card.

How to open a basic bank account

There are usually several ways you can open a basic bank account – online, over the phone, in person, or by post. You should also be prepared to show proof of identity and address. Check with your bank which documents they need to confirm your identity and address, as different providers may ask for different documents.

Who can get a basic bank account?

To open a basic bank account, you usually need to be at least 16 years old, and this may rise to 18, depending on the bank. You typically also need to not qualify for a standard current account. This could be because you have poor or bad credit, or a difficult financial history – for example, maybe you’ve experienced bankruptcy or insolvency.

Advantages of a basic current account

  • No fees to pay on day to day banking
  • Can be opened even if you have no money to put in it yet
  • Pay in money owed to you such as salary or wages, benefits and tax credits.
  • Set up Direct Debits for bills and other recurring payments
  • Take out money from cash points, as well as pay in cash or cheques

Disadvantages of a basic current account

  • No option for an overdraft or a cheque book
  • No option to earn interest or cashback on your spending
  • You might be charged if a Direct Debit bounces – not by your bank, but by the company that’s owed the payment.

How to choose the best basic bank account

When you’re on the hunt for the best basic bank account, a comparison table like NerdWallet’s can really help. You’ll be able to see at a glance how the banks stack up against each other.

Think about whether you’d prefer to bank online, or visit a local branch – this may affect your decision. Keep in mind that most basic bank accounts are fee-free, but don’t offer overdrafts.

If you’re considering applying for a basic bank account with a bank you already have another account with, think – do you owe money on this other account, maybe via an overdraft or other charge? If so, check whether they’d be allowed to take money from your basic account to cover your debt on the other account. If yes, it might be wise to choose a different provider for your fee-free bank account.

What are some alternatives to a basic bank account?

If you’re looking for alternatives to a basic bank account, here are a few to consider.

Fintech online banks

These often offer completely smartphone-app-based accounts, and tend to only carry out ‘soft’ searches on your credit history, which won’t affect your record. Providers include Monzo, Monese, and U Account, and there are others, too.

Credit unions

Alongside member lending services, some credit unions also provide basic banking services, with no credit check necessary. The best known of these is an account called Engage. Keep in mind, you have to be a member of a credit union before you can apply for it.

Post office card accounts

These only accept pension and benefit payments, and you can get one set up by getting in touch with the government department that pays your pension or benefits. Bear in mind these accounts will no longer be available from November 2021, so they don’t offer a long-term solution.

Basic Current Account FAQs

How to upgrade a basic bank account

If you already have a basic bank account, and your financial circumstances have improved since you opened it, you may be able to upgrade to a standard current account. You’ll need to check with your bank how to go about doing this – some may ask you to get in touch with them to discuss it, while others may direct you to an online eligibility checker first to do a ‘soft search’ on your current financial situation.

Can you be refused a basic bank account?

Yes, in some situations you may be refused a basic bank account – for example, if you can’t offer your bank proof of identity or address, or if you don’t consent to a credit check. Other reasons include being eligible for a standard current account, or if your bank suspects you want the account for fraudulent activity.

Do you need a credit check to open a basic bank account?

It depends on the bank, but it’s good to show that you’re willing if your bank does want to run a credit check on you. It’s a way for them to better understand your situation, and it doesn’t matter if you fail the check. A basic bank account isn’t offering you any credit, so failing a credit check shouldn’t affect your likelihood of being approved for the account.

Does applying for a basic bank account affect my credit score?

No, it shouldn’t do, because you aren’t applying for credit – basic bank accounts don’t provide credit to their customers.

However, if your bank does plan to run a credit check on you, ask whether it’s a soft search. A hard search may affect your score, and a soft search shouldn’t leave a trace. You may decide to apply to other banks if you aren’t happy with how yours does things.

» MORE: How to improve your credit score

Can I have two basic bank accounts?

Yes, you should be able to – but double-check with your existing basic bank account provider, to make sure it won’t cause problems if you want to open another one.

Can I switch my basic bank account to another?

Yes, you can. We reached out to the Current Account Switching Service and they confirmed: ‘As per our service definition, a fee-free basic account is classified as a UK current account and is within the scope of the Current Account Switching Service.’

Can I open a joint basic bank account?

Yes, if you and the person you want to open one with both qualify for a basic bank account.

Could my basic bank account be closed?

Yes. Like any bank account, your basic account could be closed if you don’t stick to its terms and conditions, give inaccurate or false information when opening it, or use it for fraudulent activity. It may also be closed if your circumstances improve and you become eligible for a standard current account. Then you may have to upgrade your account.

About the author:

Hannah has been writing about money since 2013. Formerly a copywriter for Virgin Money, covering credit cards, mortgages, pensions, and more, she now writes on personal finance for NerdWallet UK. Read more