Basic bank accounts

This factsheet explains what a basic bank account is and what it can be used for.

What is a basic bank account?

A Basic Bank Account allows you to receive money and pay bills. However, this kind of account does not allow you to go overdrawn by more than £10, if at all. A Basic Bank Account can be the first step towards opening a regular current account at a later date. Almost everyone should be able to open this kind of account. The bank or building society may want to check your credit history to see if any County Court Judgements (CCJs) have been brought against you or you have been made bankrupt. Even if you have, you may still be able to open an account.


A basic bank account allows you to

  • Have wages, benefits, pension or tax credits paid directly into the account
  • Pay in cheques
  • Take money out at cash machines with a cash card
  • Withdraw money at the Post Office
  • Pay bills by Direct Debit, and
  • Some banks will also allow you to pay by standing order.

In order to open a Basic Bank Account, you will need to prove your identity to the bank or building society. Documentation required will be a passport or photo-card driving licence or combination of certain official documents, such as an old-style UK driving licence plus a council tax bill. If you do not have any of these then there is other documentation that can be used, such as:

  • A letter from a government department or local authority confirming your right to state benefits
  • A letter from a care home manager or warden of sheltered accommodation or refuge
  • Confirmation from a young person’s workplace or educational institute.

Money Helper provides guidance on basic bank accounts - www.moneyhelper.org.uk


Simon Rex