If you have a poor credit score, debt or don’t meet the conditions for other current accounts, a basic bank account could be the ideal solution. One of the options available is the Basic Account from Halifax, part of the Lloyds Banking Group.
But how do you apply for the Halifax Basic Account, who is eligible and can you do it online? We’ll answer these questions and more here in this guide, so you’ll have all the info you need to get started.
The Halifax Basic Account offers free, everyday banking for people who don’t otherwise meet the criteria for other current accounts. Features include¹:
- Online, mobile, branch and telephone banking
- Mobile alerts - to help you stay on top of your finances
- A contactless Visa debit card
- Access to the Cashback Extras scheme.
However, there are certain things you can’t do with this account. For example, you can’t have an arranged overdraft or chequebook, or take advantage of switching offers or monthly cash rewards.
Unfortunately, you can’t open a Halifax Basic Account directly¹. This is because it is only for applicants who don’t qualify for other accounts.
To access the account, you’ll need to first apply for one of Halifax’s other current accounts¹. These include its Current Account, Reward Current Account, Ultimate Reward Current Account, Student Current Account and Expresscash account for 11-17 year-olds².
The good news is that you can apply for most of these accounts online, or at least start your application³. Provide as much information as you have, and Halifax will try to assess your credit history and find the right account for you - which could mean recommending the Basic Account.
Alternatively, you can call Halifax on 0345 720 3040¹ or drop into a local branch to find out more about opening a Basic Account.
To open a Basic Account with Halifax, you’ll need to be 18 or over and legally resident in the UK⁴. You’ll also need to meet other requirements, such as not already having another payment account and not being eligible for other Halifax current accounts.
If you’re following the route recommended by Halifax, you’ll need to apply for another of its current accounts first - so that the bank can assess whether you’re eligible for the Basic Account.
To do this, you’ll need to have proof of ID and address ready. In most cases, you should only need to provide either a current photo driving licence or a UK passport⁵. If you don’t have either of these, you’ll need to provide two of the following⁵:
- Proof of ID - HMRC tax notification, EU passport or other passport with valid UK Visa, Biometric Residence Permit, Home Office Immigration Status or benefits entitlement letter.
- Proof of address - EU driving licence, HMRC tax notification, utility bill, council tax bill, bank or mortgage statement or UK provisional driver’s licence.
The full list of acceptable documents for both proof of ID and address is available here.
A basic bank account can be a lifeline for people who can’t get an ordinary bank account. This could be because of debt, financial problems, bankruptcy or just a poor or non-existent credit history.
You’ll typically get fewer services and features with a basic bank account compared to an ordinary current account, but you also get fee-free everyday banking. This enables you to get paid from your job, benefits or other income, pay your bills, take out cash from an ATM and spend on a debit card.
With a Basic Account from Halifax, you won’t pay any fees for maintaining the account, or for other everyday banking services. There are also no charges for transfers within the UK, or for payments in GBP or EUR within the EU.
But if you want to send or receive money internationally, here are the charges you need to know about:
|Type of payment||Fee|
|Sending money in GBP outside the EU||£9.50|
|Sending money internationally in other currencies||£9.50|
|Receiving money in GBP or other currencies from outside the EU - up to £100||£2|
|Receiving money in GBP or other currencies from outside the EU - over £100||£7|
Alongside fees, another thing to consider when sending or receiving money internationally using your bank account is the exchange rate. This can potentially make a transfer much more expensive, even if the upfront fee appears low.
At Halifax, the standard exchange rate for international payments includes a margin (or mark-up) of 3.55%⁷ for transfers up to £10,000. This mark-up from the real, mid-market exchange rate is how banks such as Halifax make extra money on international payments.
If you need to send and receive international payments, it could end up being quite expensive if you use your bank. Instead, keep your basic bank account for everyday, UK-based banking and choose a specialist money transfer service for your overseas payments.
With Wise, you can send money worldwide for low fees and the real, mid-market exchange rate. This means no mark-ups or margins, only the fairest rate. The same goes for receiving international payments, where you’ll get the same great rate and low to no fees depending on the currency.
You could also open a Wise multi-currency account and manage your money across 50+ currencies.
Choose the right solution for the right purpose and you could save a bundle - such as using Wise for overseas payments and your Halifax basic bank account for everything else.
And that’s pretty much it - everything you need to know on how to open a Halifax Basic Account. It’s not super straightforward, as you can’t apply for it directly. But you can apply for a Halifax current account online and take it from there, or give the bank a call to start the process. Good luck!
Sources used for this article:
- Halifax - basic account
- Halifax - current accounts
- Halifax - reward account
- Halifax - bank account guide
- Halifax - proving your identity
- Halifax - basic account fee information
- Halifax - send money outside the UK
Sources checked on 16-August-2021.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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