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How to switch current accounts

It’s quick and easy to switch your current account thanks to the Current Account Switching Service (CASS). Using the service is free and your new account will be up and running in a matter of days. Here’s all you need to know about the switching process.

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Why should I switch current accounts?

There are a number of reasons why it can pay to switch current accounts. These include: 

  • Cash incentives: Many current accounts offer incentives for switching. These are often in the form of cash, but you need to check you can meet any qualifying criteria before you apply. 

  • Perks: Some packaged current accounts offer perks, such as travel insurance, interest on your balance, fee-free spending abroad or cashback. If your existing account doesn’t offer these benefits, it could be worth making the switch.

  • Better customer service: Banks such as First Direct are renowned for their excellent customer service. So if you’ve had enough of the way your bank treats you, now’s the time to move to a better one. 

  • Interest-free overdraft: If you’re currently paying a high rate of interest on your overdraft, you might be able to switch to an account with a lower rate. 

Switch to a better current account

Compare current accounts from different providers and find a bank that works for you.

How do I switch current accounts?

Most banks and building societies use CASS to help you switch current accounts. You can view the full list of institutions on the CASS website

Under the Account Switch Service Guarantee, your new bank will switch your payments and transfer your balance for you, while your old bank will close your old account. 

The Guarantee also means that any payments accidentally made into your old account will automatically be redirected to your new account, and the payee will be informed of your new bank account details. Should anything go wrong with the switch, you will be refunded any interest lost and charges incurred.

Below is a step-by-step guide to switching current accounts:

1. Compare and choose your new bank account

Your first step is to compare bank accounts to find one that works for you. Think about whether you want a cashback current account that pays cashback on day-to-day spending, or an account that comes with a more competitive overdraft rate. Maybe you’d prefer a high-interest current account that pays interest on your balance, or one that offers perks, such as travel and mobile phone insurance, in return for a monthly fee. Visit our packaged bank accounts page to see the top current accounts that come with added benefits. 

2. Apply for your bank account

Once you’ve selected your bank account, you need to make your application. You can usually do this online, but some providers also let you open accounts at a branch, over the phone or by post. To comply with money-laundering regulations, you usually need to provide some documents to prove your identity and address. 

You’ll also be required to complete a Current Account Switch Agreement form and a Current Account Closure Instruction form, which will be provided by your bank or building society. If you need an overdraft, you’ll need to agree it with your new bank at this point.  

3. Choose your switch date

You can choose your switch date as part of the overall application process. The only rules are that you must allow at least seven working days for the switch to take place, and the switch can’t be made on a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday. 

You’ll be able to use your old current account up until your agreed switch date, but avoid setting up new Direct Debits and standing orders on your old account in the seven working days leading up to the switch. 

4. Start using your new account

On your agreed switch date, your new account will be up and running and your old account will be closed. Your new bank will have transferred all of your regular incoming and outgoing payments across to your new account, as well as your remaining balance. 

How long does it take to switch bank accounts?

As long as you’re using CASS, the whole switching process should be completed within seven working days. However, if you would prefer, you can choose to switch on a certain date, in which case the switching process can take longer. 

If you choose a bank that hasn’t signed up for CASS, you’ll need to find out from your new bank how long the process will take. It will usually be longer than seven days. 

How often can I switch bank accounts?

There’s no limit to the number of times you can switch bank accounts, so there’s nothing stopping you from regularly switching to take advantage of cash incentives and other perks. 

However, before switching, read the small print carefully to check you qualify. Some banks require you to have two or more active Direct Debits on the account and/or pay-in a set amount each month. You might also need to be a new customer or not have been a customer with the bank for a number of years. 

Does switching banks affect your credit score? 

A credit check will be carried out each time you apply for a bank account. This will typically cause a temporary dip in your credit score. However, if you’re switching banks on a regular basis, your credit score could drop further. 

Lenders will also be able to see each application on your credit record and if you have a lot of applications in a short period of time, lenders may view this as a red flag. If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage or other significant form of credit in the near future, it’s best to avoid switching current accounts for at least six months beforehand.  

Can I switch current accounts if I have an overdraft?

Yes, it’s possible to switch current accounts even if you have an overdraft. However, you’ll need to find a bank that will agree to match the amount you’ve borrowed. If you have a good record of managing your overdraft, your new bank might agree to take on your existing overdraft - in which case, the funds will be sent to your old bank and you’ll owe the overdraft balance on the new account instead. 

However, if the overdraft you’re offered is smaller or you can’t get a new overdraft, you’ll need to repay your existing overdraft balance before you can switch accounts.  

Can I switch joint accounts? 

Yes, as long as both holders agree to it. You will both need to provide ID and address verification, and you will need to switch to a joint account registered with the same names. You can’t use CASS to switch from a joint account to a sole account.