How to switch a current account in the UK?

Gert Svaiko

Not happy with your current bank, or interested in switching accounts to get a better deal? Read on, as we’ve put together a handy guide on how to switch a current account in the UK.

We’ll look at how to start the process, how long it takes, switching bonuses and much more. Plus, all you need to know about the Current Account Switch Service (CASS).

Before you switch though, if you travel a lot, study or work abroad, or have family in other countries - the Wise account could be a better fit than a traditional bank account. You can manage your money between 50+ currencies, including pounds, all in one place. There’s also a Wise debit card for spending in 175 countries, which automatically converts foreign currency at a fair exchange rate.


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How to switch a current account?

You should find that switching a current account in the UK is pretty straightforward. The first step is to find an account you want to switch to at another bank.

Then, follow these steps to start your switch:¹

  1. Check that the account is covered by the Current Account Switch Service (more on this next). 99% of UK current accounts are, and you can check participating banks and building societies here.
  2. Make sure you’re eligible to open the account. For example, you may need to make a minimum number of Direct Debits or pay in a minimum amount each month.
  3. Review your current payments. When you switch accounts using the Current Account Switch Service, all your existing Direct Debits and standing orders are moved over too. If there are some you no longer want or use, it makes sense to cancel them rather than switch them over to your new account.
  4. Download your statements. You may not be able to access your transaction history for your existing account once it’s closed, so take the opportunity to download or request any statements you need now.
  5. Start your switch with your new account provider. There will usually be an option to switch when you click ‘apply’.
  6. Choose your switching date. You can continue to use your old account up until this date.
  7. Your new bank will handle the whole switch for you, including moving over any payments and saved payee details. They’ll also let you know when the switch has started and when it’s completed. Your old account will be automatically closed.

Don’t want to switch and just want to close an account? Take a look at some examples of how to close an account with HSBC and Barclays.

How many current accounts can you have?

It’s a common misconception that you can only have one UK current account.

But actually, you can have as many bank accounts as you like, across multiple financial institutions.²

What you might find though is that banks have certain eligibility requirements for opening a current account. For example, having two active Direct Debits a month or paying in a certain amount. You may not be able to meet these requirements across several current accounts, so this may limit how many accounts you can have.

What is a Current Account Switching Service (CASS)?

The Current Account Switch Service (CASS) was launched in the UK in 2013³ with the aim of making it easier and quicker for customers to switch accounts. It’s a free-to-use service, and most UK banks and building societies are signed up to it.

The CASS is backed by the Current Account Switch Guarantee, which is provided by the bank you’re switching to. This ensures that all payments and balances are switched over, your new account opened, and your old account closed - all within a set time frame.

What are the most common problems with switching current accounts?

While the Current Account Switch Service offers protection during the switching process, and most switches run smoothly, issues can happen sometimes.

Here are a few of the most common current account switch problems:⁴

  • A delayed switch - it takes longer than promised for your new account to be opened
  • Direct Debit payments not being moved over correctly - this can sometimes result in charges or issues with a customer’s credit report
  • An incentive for switching accounts is not paid
  • An existing overdraft isn’t transferred over
  • A debit card isn’t issued for the new account

If you have any of these or other problems with your switch, you should contact the bank you’re switching to.⁵ If issues aren’t resolved, you can make a complaint or contact the Financial Ombudsman.⁴

Current account switching bonuses

Some UK banks and building societies offer incentives to switch to them. This is usually in the form of a free cash payment, but can also include other current account switch bonuses and offers such as:

  • Fixed interest for loans
  • 0% overdraft
  • Cashback on spending
  • Interest on account balance
  • Free insurance

Requirements for getting bonuses for switching

In order to get an incentive for switching to a new account, you’ll need to meet a few key requirements. These can vary from bank to bank, but they usually include:

  • Minimum deposit
  • Minimum monthly pay-in amount
  • Minimum number of monthly Direct Debits (usually 2+)
  • Accessing your account via online banking
  • Being a new customer (many switching incentives are for new customers only).

You’ll also need to make sure you’re eligible for the account. For example, the bank may only accept applications from UK residents over the age of 18.

How long does it take to switch a current account?

As part of the Current Account Switch Guarantee provided by the bank you’re moving to, it should take no longer than 7 working days⁶ to switch your current account.

After reading this guide, you should be all clued up on the current account switching process here in the UK.

The Current Account Switch Service makes it pretty simple and straightforward. So, all you have to do is choose an account, start the switch and wait no longer than 7 working days for your new account to be opened.

Just make sure you compare accounts carefully, especially if a switching bonus or incentive has caught your eye. You need to make sure the account is still right for your needs after you’ve switched.

Sources used:

  1. Current Account Switch Service - How to Switch
  2. Money Helper - Banking Myths Busted
  3. Pay UK - Current Account Switching Service
  4. Financial Ombudsman - Complaints We Can Help With - Bank Accounts
  5. Current Account Switch Service - Help and Support
  6. Current Account Switch Guarantee

Sources last checked on date: 05-Dec-2022

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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