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HM Revenue - Customs: Using the Lloyds Calculator

Using the" Lloyd's Calculator"

- to work out adjustments under section 107 FA 2000

These notes provide a practical guide to using the "Lloyd's Allocation of claims and provisions calculator" on the "General Insurance Reserves (Tax) Regulations section of the Inland Revenue website. You can find more guidance on the application of section 107 FA 2000 and the General Insurance Reserves (Tax) Regulations in Chapter 6 of the General Insurance Manual and Chapter 3 of the Lloyd’s Manual in the “Manuals” section of this web site.

  • This calculation needs to be carried out separately for each syndicate on which the member held more than 4% of the capacity in both the year paying and the year receiving the RITC
  • Enter the accounting period for which figures of claims and provisions are required in the isolated box to the top left of the screen entitled "Calculation is for".
  • The "underwriting year" cell refers to the Lloyd's year of account declared in that year. So, the 2000 underwriting year refers to the 1997 year of account, and so on.

Calculation for 2000

Step 1 - find the original provision for 2000

  • Before doing anything else, clear any figures already shown in the matrix - these are left from earlier calculations and will interfere with your calculations if not deleted.
  • Enter "2000" in the "Calculation is for" box, and under the "2000" underwriting year enter the member's percentage participation for the 1997 year of account and the total amount of the claims paid and RITC paid by the syndicate.
  • Also enter the member's participation on the same syndicate for the 1998 year of account in the isolated box at the bottom entitled "Participation for 2001". The member's share of claims and RITC will appear in the bottom two rows. The `claims' figure will include any part of the RITC which is to be treated as a claim for the purposes of the section 107 calculation.
  • The amount of the member's share of the RITC shown as member provisions under the 2000 underwriting year is his original provision for the 2000 accounting period for the purposes of the section 107 calculation.

Calculation for 2001

Step 2 - find the cost of settling 2000 liabilities in 2001

  • Now enter "2001" in the "Calculation is for" box. The cells for the 2000 and 2001 underwriting years will become activated. Clear the figures previously entered in the 2000 column.
  • Enter the member's percentage participation for the 1997 and 1998 years of account under the 2000 and 2001 underwriting years respectively. In the isolated cell at the bottom entitled "Participation for 2002" enter the member's participation for the 1999 year of account.
  • Under the 2000 underwriting year enter that part of the claims and RITC paid by the 1998 syndicate in respect of the 1997 and prior years of account. The claims to enter here are those paid in the calendar year 2000 in respect of 1997 and prior years of account.
  • Under the 2001 underwriting year enter that part of the claims and RITC paid by the 1998 syndicate in respect of the 1998 year of account. The claims to enter here are those paid in the calendar year 2000 in respect of the 1998 year of account.
  • The member's share of claims and RITC (i.e. provisions for the purposes of the section 107 calculation) will appear in the bottom two rows.
  • The figures under the 2000 underwriting year are the claims and provisions to be entered into the section 107 calculations for the 2000 accounting period, as the cost of settling liabilities in 2001. For the section 107 calculation, these must be compared with the original provision for 2000 obtained as described under Step 1 above.

Step 3 - find the original provision for 2001

  • The amount of the member's share of the RITC shown as member provisions under the 2001 underwriting year is his original provision for 2001 accounting period for the purposes of section 107.

Calculation for 2002

Step 4 - find the cost of settling 2000 and 2001 liabilities in 2002

  • Enter 2002 in the "Calculation is for" box at the top, then enter the member's participation for the 1997, 1998 and 1999 years of account under the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Underwriting Years respectively.
  • Enter the member's participation for the 2000 year of account in the "Participation for 2003" box at the bottom.
  • Clear the figures previously entered in the 2000 and 2001 columns, and enter the syndicate claims and RITC of the 1999 year of account, divided into the amounts paid in respect of the 1997, 1998, and 1999 years of account, in columns under the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Underwriting Years respectively. The amounts appearing in the bottom two rows under the 2000 underwriting year are the figures to be entered into the section 107 calculations for 2000 as the cost of settling liabilities of 2000 in 2002. The figures under the 2001 underwriting year are the cost of settling liabilities of 2001 in 2002.

Step 5 - find the original provision for 2002

  • The amount of the member's share of the RITC shown as member provisions under the 2002 underwriting year is his original provision for the 2002 accounting period for the purposes of section 107.

Let us assume that a member's participation on a syndicate increases from 20% for the 1997 underwriting year, to 25% for the 1998 underwriting year and to 40% for the 1999 underwriting year. The figures for the total amount of claims and RITC paid by the syndicate in each year are as follows

Underwriting year for which amounts paid

Underwriting year in which claims/RITC paid

Claims paid for 1997

Claims paid for 1998

Claims paid for 1999

RITC paid for 1997

RITC paid for 1998

RITC paid for 1999

For 2000: enter the member's 20% participation on the 1997 year of account, and enter the syndicate's RITC of £120. You will see that the original provision for 2000 is £24. The calculator will look like this:

Calculation is for

Participation for 2001

The starting point for the section 107 calculations is as follows:

For 2001: clear these figures and change the "calculation is for" box to 2001. In the columns under 2000 and 2001 respectively enter the member's 20% and 25% participations, the syndicate claims of £70 and £110, and the syndicate RITC of £100 and £140. You will see that the member's claims paid in 1998 in respect of 1997 are £14 and the member's provisions are £20. For section 107 purposes, you will need to compare the discounted sum of these two figures with the original £24 provision. You will also see that the member's original provision for 1998 paid in 1998 is £40. The calculator will look like this:

Calculation is for

Participation for 2002

The section 107 calculations therefore become:

For 2002: clear these figures and change the "calculation is for" box to 2002. In the columns under 2002, 2001 and 2002 respectively enter the member's 20%, 25% and 40% participations. Also enter the syndicate claims figures of £20, £40 and £130 respectively. Also enter the syndicate RITC figures of £60, £80 and £160 respectively.

You will see that for 1997 the claims paid are £4 and the closing provision is £12. For 1998 the claims paid are £11 and the closing provision is £23. For 1999 the original provision is £85. The calculator will look like this:

Calculation is for

Participation for 2003

The figures to use in section 107 calculations therefore become:

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Under 19s Account, Current Accounts, TSB Bank

Under 19s Account

The handy young person's current account that's all grown up. If you’re between 11 and 18, we can help you get clever with your precious cash. We’ve made it easier than ever to look after your money and take it with you wherever you go - so you can leave your piggy bank behind for good.

Why choose our Under 19s Account?

Open an account, and you'll get useful benefits including:

Can-do cards - choose from a TSB Visa Debit Card to use in shops, online or at cash machines, or an ATM Card to withdraw your money at cash machines

An attractive variable rate of interest, paid every three months. 2.5% AER/2.47% Gross variable rate interest on balances up to £2,500. Any money over £2,500 will earn 0.1% AER variable

Free Weekly Balance Alerts to your mobile and regular statements to help you keep track of your money

We have over 550 branches

Free Internet Banking, Telephone Banking (16 years and over) and Mobile Banking (13 years and over) to keep you closer to your finances, with useful tools like our Mobile Banking app for your smartphone. We don't charge for Mobile Banking, but your mobile operator may charge for some services, so please check with them

Driving discounts: once you're 17 or over, you can save up to £75.99 with the AA and drive down the cost of getting your licence - Save £36 on AA driving lessons and receive a free CD worth £19.99. After passing your test, save a further £20 off Pass Plus

Get the savings habit - with Save the Change © and an eligible TSB Savings Account you can save without lifting a finger when you use your TSB Visa Debit Card.

We're sure you'll enjoy banking with us so we've made it easy when you turn 18 to move to a new account that will suit your needs, whether you're looking to start work or are continuing with your studies.

  • You can also use Apple Pay and Android Pay (13 years and over)
How to apply
  • To open an Under 19s Account, you must be aged between 11 and 18
  • If you are aged between 11 and 15, a parent/guardian must be present, both when an account is opened and when additional services are applied for
  • Two forms of ID, such as passport or birth certificate, as well as proof of the parent or guardian's identity and address are required
  • Over 16s don't need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, but need to bring in two forms of ID and proof of their address
Rates and charges

It's important that you understand how your account works.

We've added information below about our interest rates and you can find all the documents relevant to this account in the Important documents section.

Under 19s Account interest rates

Ways to bank with us Press to expand/collapse

The quick and easy way to control your money. Pay bills, check balances, transfer money between accounts, set up and cancel standing orders, view and cancel Direct Debits and more.

Make it easier to manage your money on the go. It means you can do your banking on the move from most internet-enabled mobile devices - either using our app or via your mobile device's browser.

You can call our Telephone Banking service on 03459 758 758.

Use our quick automated service to:

  • Check your balance and recent transactions
  • Pay your bills
  • Transfer money
  • Check your Direct Debits or Standing Orders

And you can speak to one of our advisers if you have a more complex query.

These services are available if you are over 16.

Your Visa debit card Press to expand/collapse

Your TSB Visa debit card is an amazing piece of plastic. Accepted in millions of places and cash machines worldwide, it's incredibly convenient. It's just as safe to use abroad as at home, so it's a simple alternative to carrying cash.

Save the Change® Press to expand/collapse

Every time you use your TSB Visa debit card we'll round up the amount you spent to the nearest pound and transfer the difference from your current account into an eligible TSB savings account.

How to apply

Apply at a branch

Are you a non-UK EU resident?

Important Documents Financial Services Compensation Scheme

TSB and Cookies

To get more details or to change your cookie settings for our website please select “More Information”

Bank online 24/7 using our Internet Banking website or our mobile app.

Bank online 24/7 using our Internet Banking website or our mobile app.

Bank over the phone 24/7 using our automated service - call 03459 758 758.

Find your nearest branch or cash machine using our Branch Locator tool.

TSB Bank plc. Registered office: Henry Duncan House, 120 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4LH. Registered in Scotland, no. SC95237.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 191240.

TSB Bank plc is covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Calls may be monitored and recorded in case we need to check we have carried out your instructions correctly and to help us improve our quality of service. Not all telephone banking services are available 24/7.

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Lloyds Bank Exchange Rates

Lloyds Large International Money Transfers Payments

Lloyds Bank Exchange Rates

Lloyds Bank Exchange Rates review. Making Large international money transfers payments. Review currency exchange pairs & foreign exchange rates for Lloyds banking.

The Lloyds Interbank table below displays the currencies and exchange rates for Lloyds daily updated. You can also use Lloyds Exchange Rates converter to get the latest conversion rates to or from Sterling.

The currency converter and exchange rate board contain indication rates only and are updated daily by Lloyds. These rates exclude any other associated charges which may apply. Please ask your Lloyds branch for details of Lloyds exchange rates before you make the transaction.

Lloyds bank account

When it comes to dealing with those critical situations, when your options thin out to an impossible alternative-trust, then get yourself the Lloyds Silver account. The account aids customers with unique travel and maintenance constants. Where existing financial institutions go quietly about age benefits Lloyds through lots Lloyds Silver account declares travel benefits levied till you turn 65 years old.

The salient features of Lloyds bank account:

Your silver account guarantees exclusive European Travel Insurance plan to aid your travel expenses and untold critical situations. Lloyds considers family matters more than anything. Thus, under the plan, the benefits automatically cover up your partner’s requirements. The conditions are workable for 22 consecutive days in each trip. The service is honoured as a five star “Defaqto”.

Lloyds Exchange Rate

The account provider’s AA Breakdown Cover is self-explanatory. It delivers the account holder a prime UK Roadside Assistance program, each time you face transport hazards. The scheme can be availed both in the case of the owner’s car or other.

Having discussed your travel supports and your car-oriented assistance, Lloyds has developed insurance plans to cover up your mobile phone crisis. Instances like losing, breakdown, and untold damage can be covered up through this specific insurance policy. Even you can handle the charges against unauthorised calls with it, provided you own a listed handset.

The money transfer card which comes along with the silver account empowers the clients with additional privileges like transferring money to overseas locations. The alternative is equally lucrative as a money managing tool. Herein, we are referring to the Travel Money Card which allows travel enthusiasts to make the most of their trips without having to worry about their cash.

Lloyds Large International Money Transfers Payments

With the interest rates incurred up to 4.00% on account balance ranging between £5,000 and £7,000, you can benefit more by adding up Vantage with the existing current account. Securing your card details is one of the prime concerns. Keeping this in mind, the company has developed Sentinel Card Protection tool. Expand your avenues and chances to yield the most out of Lloyds bank account by registering for the Lloyds TSB Airmiles Travel Service.

The customer can accumulate Airmiles and can even avail 6.5% discount under applied conditions. Apart from this, the TBS Visa card provided along with the account can be utilised through cash machine both in country United Kingdom and abroad. The grace period to prevent overdraft charges is limited till 3:30 pm on the day of purchase. One can also access the Lloyds bank account details through telephone banking and online banking alternatives.

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Bank accounts: Ј150 bonus or 5% interest current account

Best Bank Accounts Ј150 bonus or 5% interest

Nine banking need-to-knows Top with free cash for switching Top for savers (high interest) Top accounts with cashback Top if you want insurance Top if you're overdrawn Top ethical accounts Complain about your bank? Q&A: bank accounts

If you're unhappy with your bank account, don't groan, moan or whinge – switching has never been easier and you can get Ј150 in cash to switch or up to Ј185 in vouchers when you switch and stay as banks lust for your custom.

Changing bank is easy yet millions have never done it, languishing in accounts with shoddy service, that levy huge fees or pay a pittance. This is a full guide on how to max your returns.

Best buy bank accounts
In this guide
Nine tips to find your best account

Not every bank account's going to be the right one for you. But with these tips, you can find out how to find and switch to the best account for YOU.

Switching should now be quick & hassle-free

If you haven't switched bank accounts in the last few years, you'll find that the process is now much quicker and easier than it used to be.

This is because 'seven-day switching' was introduced in September 2013, meaning switching accounts is now – for the majority – quick, easy and completely pain-free. All you need to do is open a new account, then use their switching service to close your old account and move everything across.

Under the scheme (provided your existing bank's signed up), a switch takes seven working days, all payments going in, eg, salary, and out, eg, utility bill direct debits, will be moved to your new account, and any wrongly applied charges will be refunded.

If you haven't tried it, and your bank gives you lousy service, read below for full info, then take a look at our top pick accounts.

Quick questions

How long after I switch will payments made to my old account find me?

Your new bank will arrange for payments accidentally made to, or taken from, your old account to be automatically redirected to your new account.

This will happen for three years or until a 13 month period has passed since the last payment has been redirected, whichever is longest. It will also contact the other person/company and give it your new account details.

This means the age-old fear that you'll miss cash people pay to you, or that your employer will send your salary to your old account, could be a thing of the past if banks keep their promises – the old system required you to make sure your employer, and other people who pay money into your account, knew your new bank details.

Does seven-day switching automatically move direct debits and standing orders?

The seven-day switching service will transfer all direct debits and standing orders. So, you shouldn't miss mortgage, council tax or utility payments (though it's best to pick a switch date far away from the days you pay your bills to avoid confusion).

Some switching bonuses or perks require 'active' direct debits. What does this mean?

An active direct debit is one that has paid out in the last 13 months, or – if it has never paid out – is less than 13 months old.

Direct debits have this dormancy rule in place, so old direct debits can remain active even if you're not paying out on them every month in case they're needed again, or they're there for annual payments. But, after 13 months, your bank may remove them from your account, or mark them as inactive.

Are recurring payments from my card also moved?

Otherwise known as continuous payment authorities, these are set up using your debit or credit card details, as opposed to your account number and sort code. They're often used for memberships, online subscriptions and payday loan repayments. The company will ask for the long number across your card, giving it permission to take cash from your account.

If you switch, you'll need to give your new card details to any companies that take money from your card in this way.

Are all banks and building societies signed up to seven-day switching?

You'll find that most banks are signed up, though it's a little more hit and miss with building societies. To check if your bank's signed up, use the list of banks and building societies involved.

If your bank or building society isn't signed up, you'll have to switch the old-fashioned way (which will also mean you don't qualify for any switch bonuses offered).

Do I HAVE to close my old account when switching?

Yes, you have to close your old account if you switch via the seven working days Current Account Switch Service (CASS). As part of the process, your new bank will automatically close it and also move all payments, eg, direct debits out or salary in, across.

But if you'd rather keep your old account open, or your old or new bank is one of the few not signed up to CASS, you'll need to use the older, slower and more complicated system. Your payments will still be switched over, but there's less protection if anything goes wrong, and it's likely you won't get any of the switch incentives.

What day will my switch happen on?

If you opt for a specific date for the switch to complete, the process will begin seven working days before this date.

If you don't, it'll start the day you initiate the switch.

Can I still switch if I'm overdrawn?

There aren't any set rules in place when switching if you're overdrawn – it will vary between providers. Whether you get an overdraft, and whether your limit is high enough to switch your overdraft, will depend on the new account provider's normal lending procedure.

If your new bank or building society can't help, you'll need to make separate plans to pay back what you owe. Try the free budget planner to help.

Will my new debit card and PIN arrive within the seven days?

Bizarrely, given the song and dance about seven-day switching, your debit card and PIN aren't covered by it. So despite your account being open and set up – and your old account closed – in seven working days, you may have to wait a few days to access your money.

Can I switch a sole account to a joint account and vice versa?

If you want to join finances with a partner, it's possible to use seven-day switching to switch a sole account to a joint account. Do remember that this'll link your finances, so their credit record could affect yours – always think carefully before doing so.

This doesn't work the other way round, so you can't switch a joint account to a sole account under seven-day switching.

I have other products like an ISA and credit card with my bank – what will happen to them if I switch away?

Most other products that you hold are totally separate, so moving your current account won't affect the others and it's fine to do. In fact, even if you have a direct debit set up to pay them, that'll automatically be moved to your new bank account for you so it shouldn't put you off switching at all.

The best-buy bank accounts with no or low minimum pay-ins

Most hot bank account deals require you to 'pay in' a certain amount each month to get the benefits. And many are worried they'll fall foul of this, making the deal pointless.

In fact, just because a bank has a minimum pay-in, that doesn't mean you must be in credit. It means that you must pay in a set amount – banks' way of ensuring your income/salary goes through the account.

For example, Ј1,000/mth equals a Ј12,850/yr pre-tax salary. So the best thing to do is to find all the top accounts that meet your minimum monthly pay-in.

Halifax, M&S Bank and HSBC all allow you to get their switching bonuses without paying in a specific amount, though you won't get their ongoing rewards unless you pay in Ј750/mth, Ј1,000/mth & Ј1,750/mth respectively.

Can I jemmy the minimum pay-in amount? Usually, yes. Quite simply, the rules say you need to pay in a set amount from external sources. So let's say you want a Ј1,000 pay-in but only have Ј500 coming in. If you get the Ј500 paid in, withdraw it either as cash or to an account with another bank, then pay it back in – BINGO, you've qualified.

Some banks have wised up to this, though – we've had reports that HSBC in particular may not accept you if your income's not high enough to meet the pay-in.

See a full list of accounts ranked by minimum pay-in

Top bank accounts (ranked by minimum pay-in)

What counts as a month to meet the minimum pay-in amounts?

The answer to this isn't as straightforward as you might think, as what counts as a month depends on which bank you're with.

For example, if you bank with Santander, a month counts from the anniversary of the date that you opened the account. In contrast, bank with Lloyds, and it simply follows the calendar month. It's important to clarify this with your bank to make sure you don't get penalised for missing minimum monthly pay-ins, especially if your pay is erratic.

See our table below for the policies of the major UK banks:

Last updated Jun 2017.

Which pays more? Free intro cash, or savings interest?

The majority of accounts in this guide fall into two categories. The first lot pay you a one-off bonus of up to Ј150 to switch to them. The second pay interest on varying balances within your current account. But which type's better for you?

Well, a few months ago, we would have said that if you have savings, an interest-paying account would be the most rewarding. But, with several banks including Santander, Lloyds and TSB, cutting their high interest rates, the market's been shaken up.

Our message now is one of chasing short-term cash gains. As the interest-paying providers have shown, loyalty doesn't pay. Now the bonus-paying accounts will have their time, as they pay up to Ј150 when you switch to them. And some even give ongoing rewards on top. This is important, as the switch bonuses themselves are a one-off payment, so if you won't switch again you can still get rewarded for staying.

But, if you want somewhere guaranteed for your savings, Nationwide FlexDirect pays 5% AER fixed for a year on Ј2,500, which'd give you a maximum Ј122.25 interest, or Tesco Bank pays at least 3% AER on Ј3,000 guaranteed until April 2019, netting Ј88.80 per year.

Beyond this, it's tricky to say which account is best for you. Here are a few things you need to consider when making the choice between interest or bonuses.

Quick questions

How often can I switch?

You could switch often to keep bagging free Ј100s – though as you can usually only get the incentive once from each bank, at some point you will run out. However, bear in mind that to earn more than a Ј100 switching bonus in bank savings you would need Ј2,000+ (at current rates). So, it depends on whether you have this to save.

One other thing to consider: continually switching accounts has a negative impact on your credit score. Lenders like to see stability in your accounts, and this doesn't demonstrate it.

Where could I save otherwise?

The top easy-access savings account pays 1.27% AER, so you can earn that without switching bank. So if bank savings pay, for example, 3%, then the gain from choosing it as your bank is 1.73%.

But, to counter this, the easy-access savings accounts tend to have high limits on the amount you can save in them – often Ј100,000s or Ј1,000,000s – whereas the most you can save and still get interest in a bank account is Ј20,000.

Do you pay tax on savings interest?

Since 6 April 2016, most people won't pay tax on savings interest as the personal savings allowance has kicked in.

Basic-rate taxpayers can earn up to Ј1,000 in savings interest (incl that earned in current accounts) before paying tax on it, easily covering the maximum interest on the accounts in this guide. For higher-rate taxpayers it's Ј500, which will cover all accounts in this guide. Additional-rate taxpayers don't get an allowance.

Bonus payments are tax-free whatever rate of tax you pay. If you've used your personal savings allowance on other savings, or you don't get one, it's likely switching bribes will win for you.

If you're often overdrawn, focus on the account with the cheapest overdraft, not other benefits

If you're often or always overdrawn, then pick a bank account that charges you as little as possible for using your overdraft.

There are huge differences in the amounts different banks charge for going overdrawn; we've identified the cheapest ones in our top accounts if you're overdrawn section.

If you are in the red, it's worth trying to get out of the mire by seeing if you can cut outgoings by doing a money makeover and then making (and sticking to) a budget. But, that's not the only way. See if any of the methods in our quick questions below could help you.

Quick questions

Can you shift the debt to a 0% credit card?

One option to cut down on costs is to get the 0% overdrafts below. However, for many people the cheapest option is actually to shift the debt to a cheap credit card. This is a good move for bigger overdrafts, if you qualify for the credit card and enough of a credit limit.

There are a few specialist money transfer credit cards that let you pay cash into your bank, so you can pay off your overdraft, then you owe it instead. The top pick card gives you 25 months at 0% in which to clear your overdraft – though you will pay a 2% fee to transfer the cash to your bank account. There is a card which gives you 36 months 0%, but you'll pay a higher 2.9% fee to transfer the cash.

Can you SPEND on a credit card instead of from your current account?

Use a cheap 0% spending card for your normal day-to-day spending, making only the minimum monthly repayments on it. This means your monthly income pays off your overdraft as no money's being taken out of that account. Instead, debt builds up on the credit card, but at 0%.

Can you change the dates your bills go out?

If you jump regularly between being in credit and using your overdraft, it's sensible to keep as much money in your account for as long as possible. Therefore, if you've the self-discipline, set all your household bills, direct debits and other standing orders to leave your account towards the end of your working month, artificially boosting your balance.

This will also help to limit overdraft charges as most are levied on a daily basis, so the longer you're not in the red, the less you pay.

If you fear this may lead to money for bills being spent before it's needed, don't take the risk. Also, take a read of the budgeting guide to help manage your cash flow.

Does your account give you a 0% overdraft buffer?

If you go into an arranged overdraft by a marginal amount – usually not more than Ј15 – some banks will make allowances and not charge you the usual hefty fees. See below for a list of the standard buffer amounts and charges outside this limit. Some banks also give an unarranged overdraft buffer – check with your bank if this applies to your account.

The big banks' arranged overdraft buffers

(1) These will tell you when you need to pay money in to cover payments, or when you've gone into or over an overdraft.

What could I be charged for using my overdraft?

Most banks allow you to agree an overdraft limit with them in advance of you going overdrawn – as long as you pass a credit check. The amount will depend on your circumstances.

If you go beyond the fee-free buffer (see question above), you'll usually be charged one or more of interest (around 15-20% a year), daily fees (usually 50p-Ј3) or monthly fees (usually Ј5-Ј10).

If you go beyond your overdraft limit, fees can get more hefty – see the unauthorised overdrafts point below for more.

Have you registered for free 'close-to-overdraft-limit' text alerts?

Most banks will now send you text alerts when you're in your overdraft or a payment's coming out that will put you there. Most also allow you until 3pm or 3.30pm to put extra cash into the account to allow you to avoid charges

To register for this service, you'll usually need to opt in through online banking, or by phone, though it does vary from bank to bank. Alternatively, if you prefer to bank in branch, staff there should be able to help.

All the top bank accounts require you to pass a credit check

Most of these accounts offer overdraft facilities, which means that the bank will credit-check you when you apply for the account to see if you're someone it'd lend to, and if you did go into your overdraft, that you've a track history of repaying what you owe.

Banks will use this credit check, plus data on your application form, to decide whether to accept or reject you for the account you applied for. If you don't want that, check out the bullet point below.

Quick question

Could you be rejected when applying for a bank account?

It could happen. If you're rejected, it may be for one of many reasons, such as you've got a poor credit record, you've had past dealings with that bank where you've missed payments, or the bank doesn't think you'll be a profitable customer.

But don't assume because one bank doesn't want you, none of the others will. All the same, don't just apply everywhere as it can do more damage to your credit record.

If you're rejected, you need to do two things – first, ask the bank why it rejected you. Its answer may be vague, but it should tell you if you were rejected because of your credit record.

The second thing you need to do is to check your credit files with the three credit reference agencies to spot any problems or possible errors. Our credit report guide tells you how to do this for free and how to correct errors.

Can't get a bank account? There is a way.

Sadly, over a million people in the UK are rejected from mainstream bank accounts like the ones in this guide. Yet as long as you can prove your identity, you should be able to get a basic bank account – they don't credit-check as strictly, meaning most will be able to get one.

You can do most of the same things with a basic bank account that you can with a normal bank account – set up standing orders and direct debits, pay from the account using a debit card, etc. The main difference is that you won't be able to get an overdraft. Read full help and tips in our Basic Bank Accounts guide.

Quick questions

What does the bank charge if you try to spend more than you've got?

New regulations mean that you won't pay anything – these accounts are designed to be free of penalty charges. But, it's always best to manage your money carefully so you've enough in your account to meet bills and other outgoings.

How do you open a basic bank account?

You'll usually need to go into a branch to open these, as you'll need to show ID to do so. Make sure you ask for the basic bank account application forms specifically or you'll get standard ones for standard bank accounts and then most likely be rejected.

Avoid going into your unauthorised overdraft or banks turn nasty

It's said a bank will lend you an umbrella when the sun shines and ask for it back when it rains. Go beyond your overdraft limit and this feels true. When you're in trouble, charges get hefty, up to Ј15 a pop.

If you are overdrawn and flirting with your limit, don't just tackle the symptoms. Try using the free Budget Planner, give yourself a Money Makeover to cut bills, and take a look at our Cut Overdraft Costs guide. It's also worth seeing if your bank will temporarily give you a larger overdraft limit.

If you have got into trouble and see charge upon charge rack up so that it's put you in financial hardship, it can be possible to reclaim bank charges.

Quick question

How do unauthorised overdrafts work?

An unauthorised, or unarranged, overdraft is when you go beyond your allowed limit so you incur bank charges – you could be charged anything from interest to a daily or monthly charge – often up to Ј5/day.

You can also be charged fees for paid or unpaid items – these are where a payment has taken you into your unarranged overdraft and the bank has accepted or rejected the transaction. They can be hefty, amounting to Ј5-Ј10 per payment.

Since August 2017, banks have to have a maximum monthly charge for unarranged overdraft fees, which they must display on their sites. This should help keep costs down, though you can still face significant fees.

You could save Ј100s on travel, mobile & breakdown insurance with a packaged account

You'll either love 'em or hate 'em. Packaged accounts can be great, saving some Ј100s a year, as for a monthly fee you get a host of insurances, typically travel, breakdown and mobile phone insurance.

But they can also be absolutely worthless if you don't need the cover or you could have got it cheaper elsewhere, so always check first. See the Best Packaged Accounts guide for more, including a tool which helps you find the right account for you (if there is one).

Quick questions

What's the real annual cost of one of these accounts?

You need to work out how much it's costing you over the year. For example, if you're paying Ј12 per month, that's actually Ј144 a year.

And what are you getting for that? Are you getting a better mortgage rate than someone without the fee-paying account? Or better savings rates? Or lower overdraft charges?

Just because getting the packaged account gives you 'better rates', don't think that automatically means you've got a top deal. You need to compare it to the deal you could get if you didn't have the packaged account – and then figure out if the fee's worth it.

What's the value of the 'benefits' you're getting?

To evaluate how you benefit, you first need to check that you actually use the benefits the account offers.

And if you do use them, is the account fee cheaper than getting them separately? For example, for less than Ј40 a year you can get annual travel insurance or breakdown cover. So, if that's all your packaged account offers, you could be paying too much.

If you're not benefiting, why do you have the account?

If the account doesn't save you money, ditch and preferably switch to a no-fee bank account. This guide will help you find the right account for you.

If you didn't know you had a packaged account, or found out you weren't eligible to claim, you may have been mis-sold – see the step-by-step reclaim packaged account fees guide for full help.

If you're a student or graduate, the accounts below aren't the right ones for you

If you're a student or graduate, there are accounts designed especially for you, many of which offer 0% overdrafts for a long period, meaning you can easily beat the terms of the best accounts mentioned in this guide. Find the best: Read the Best Student Accounts or Best Graduate Accounts guides.

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Top accounts with free cash for switching

There are several accounts that offer you a bribe to switch your existing account to them. Many pay cold hard cash, others offer vouchers. We've analysed the best here. Bear in mind that you typically need to meet some conditions to get the bonus, and will have to close your old account, so check you're able to do that before applying.

We've put these top, as provided the switching offer is still on when you apply (double-check), you have more security of it staying compared with the interest-paying accounts below, many of which are slashing rates.

These are the right accounts to switch to if.

. you're always in credit

. you don't have enough spare cash to make use of the interest-paying accounts below

. you want quick-ish cash for something

These are the wrong accounts to switch to if.

. you don't have an existing bank account

. you're regularly overdrawn

. you don't want to fully switch and close your old account using the switching service

. you can't meet the minimum pay-ins required

Best switch bonus of the lot. Free Ј150 to switch PLUS Ј50 if you stay, though high min pay-in HSBC Advance*

Open and switch to HSBC's Advance Account* and you'll get Ј150 and if you stay for a year, you'll get a further Ј50 bonus. Note, the HSBC account has a high minimum monthly pay-in – Ј1,750 a month – so consider whether you'll be able to meet this before opting for it.

Need-to-knows
  • You must open the account by 26 Nov, then start a full switch using HSBC's Current Account Switch Service, including at least two direct debits or standing orders, within 30 days. To switch, you'll need a branch or phone appointment – HSBC should call you within two working days to arrange this, though it's worth calling if you don't hear by then.
  • The bonus is paid into your account within 50 days of the switch completing.
  • You can't get the bonus if switching from another HSBC account, or if you've had a current account with it since 1 Jan 2015. You can get it if you have a mortgage or savings account with HSBC – just apply online as normal.
  • If your current bank isn't signed up to CASS, you can still get the bonus by doing a manual switch. See key questions for more.
  • If you qualify for the Ј150 bonus payment, you'll also get a 0% overdraft for six months when you open the account, though the limit you get is credit score dependent.
  • If you want to get the Ј50 extra bonus, you need to register for mobile or online banking within 60 days of account opening, plus you'll need to pay in Ј1,750/mth for at least nine of the first 12 months. It'll be sent within 30 days of your first anniversary of account opening.
  • You'll be eligible to get HSBC's 5% regular savings account.
  • The switch bonus is also available if you're switching to HSBC's Premier Account. But you'll need to either pay your income in to it and have Ј50,000 of savings/investments with HSBC; or have an income of Ј100,000+ a year, plus another qualifying product with HSBC, to get the account.
  • HSBC shares its Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with First Direct, so ensure you don't hold more than Ј85,000 across the two banks.
How HSBC rates on service (in credit)
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј1,750 (equates to Ј26,100 annual salary)
  • In-credit interest: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 2/5) and Android (rated 3.4/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% for the first six months, then 17.9% EAR
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer, then 17.9% EAR interest, plus Ј5/day charge each day you're overdrawn (max Ј80/month)

What if I can't pay in Ј1,750/mth? You need to pay this in for at least nine of the first 12 months after switching to get the full bonus. But if you can't continue to pay it in afterwards, the account will just change to a regular bank account. We've had reports that HSBC asks for income levels when you apply, so jemmying the pay-in may not be possible for this account.

Do I need to close my existing account? Yes, to get the switching bonus you'll need to complete a full switch, which includes the closure of the account you're switching from. If you use the Current Account Switch Service, this is done automatically, and all payments in and out are moved across to the new account.

My current bank isn't signed up to the Current Account Switch Service. Can I still get the switching bonus? Yes, you can. Most bank switching offers are only available if you use CASS to switch to them, but HSBC has made an exception for this offer.

You'll need to ask in branch for a manual switch, which takes 12 working days, and give clear instructions for your existing account to be closed within 30 days of your HSBC account being opened. You must also switch two direct debits or standing orders.

Are there any other perks to the Advance current account? The account itself doesn't have extra benefits, but you'll be eligible to open HSBC's 5% regular saver and get discounts on other products, including mortgages and loans.

It's back. Switch to the no.1 rated bank for customer service + get Ј125 First Direct*

Apply via our link and First Direct* offers Ј125 if you switch to it. It's one of our top picks due to its excellent customer service – it's won every bank service poll we've ever done, with 90% of its customers rating it 'great'. You also get a small Ј250 0% overdraft, and can open a linked 5% regular saver.

Need-to-knows
  • To get the Ј125 switching bonus, open an account via our link by 11 Dec then use First Direct's switching service to fully switch and close your existing account and pay in at least Ј1,000 within three months of your account opening.
  • Once you've made the payment, the Ј125 will be credited to your account within 28 working days.
  • If you have any problems with the switching process, you can contact First Direct's account opening team on 0800 24 24 24.
  • This account has a Ј10 monthly fee after six months, but this is waived each month you pay in Ј1,000, have an average monthly balance of Ј1,000 or hold selected other accounts with First Direct.
  • We've confirmed with First Direct that Norwich & Peterborough customers who are having their accounts closed can get the bonus by completing a manual switch. See key questions for more.
  • You can't get the switching bonus if you've ever held an account with First Direct before.
  • First Direct shares its Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with HSBC, so ensure you don't hold more than Ј85,000 across the two banks.

How First Direct rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј1,000 (equates to an annual salary of Ј12,850) to avoid Ј10/mth fee unless you meet selected other criteria
  • In-credit interest: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 4.5/5) and Android (rated 3.1/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% under Ј250, 15.9% EAR above that
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer then Ј5/day (max Ј80/mth)

How do I get the Ј125 switching bonus? Once you've opened and been accepted for the account, you have three months to complete your switch and pay in Ј1,000. Once you've done that, the Ј125 bonus will be paid within 28 working days.

What if I can't pay in Ј1,000 every month? If your salary reduces and you can no longer pay in Ј1,000 per month you'll be whacked with a Ј10 monthly fee. However, if you have another account with First Direct – savings or a mortgage – then it's waived, so just open a bog standard savings account (this trick excludes the 5% regular savings account), and put the minimum amount in. The fee will also be waived if you maintain an average monthly balance of Ј1,000 or more.

Do I need to close my existing account? Yes, to get the switching bonus you'll need to complete a full switch using the Current Account Switch Service, which automatically closes the account you're switching from and moves across all payments in and out.

Can I open two of these accounts? You can open two accounts if the second one is a joint account, but you'll only get the switching bonus once (as it's just for new customers). Plus, opening a joint account financially links you with the other person, so think carefully before doing so.

I'm a Norwich & Peterborough customer and my current account's being closed. Can I still get the bonus? Yes, you can. Even though Norwich & Peterborough isn't part of the Current Account Switch Service, First Direct has told us that customers whose accounts are being closed will be able to get the switching bonus. Just open an account then call First Direct on 0345 6100 100 to ask it to do a manual switch. You'll still need to pay in Ј1,000 to be eligible for the bonus.

Are there any other perks? You can sign up to First Direct's Visa Offers scheme, which gives tailored cashback deals at selected retailers based on your spending habits. Once signed up, cashback is paid automatically within five working days of each valid spend.

Free Ј125 gift card which can be boosted by Ј5/mth for a year – good if you shop at M&S

The M&S Bank* Current Account gives you a Ј125 M&S gift card, with no minimum pay-in, plus reward points when you shop in M&S. You also get a decent Ј100 0% overdraft, and a linked 5% regular saver.

As an extra perk, you can get another Ј5 added to the gift card each month for the first year when you deposit Ј1,000/mth. This means that you could get up to Ј185 for switching to M&S and keeping the account for at least 12 months.

Need-to-knows
  • To get the Ј125 gift card you must open the account and fully switch your account using M&S Bank's switching service within three months.
  • You need to switch at least two active direct debits to qualify for the bonus (M&S Bank classes an active direct debit as one that's paid out in the last 13 months).
  • Once you've switched, you'll get the bonus within a month.
  • You must not have previously switched a current account to M&S to be eligible for the bonus.
  • There's no minimum monthly pay-in to get the Ј125, but if you want the extra Ј5/mth you must pay in Ј1,000 each month, and keep 2+ direct debits active.
  • There's a linked 5% regular saver account that you can open when you've switched to this account, as long as you have two active direct debits.
  • Branches are in larger M&S stores, so have longer opening hours than some other banks.
  • If your current bank isn't signed up to CASS, you can still get the bonus by doing a manual switch. See key questions for more.
  • M&S Bank has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : None (Ј1,000 for Ј5 monthly payment)
  • In-credit interest: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 1/5) and Android (rated 1.5/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% up to Ј100, 15.9% EAR above that
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј50 buffer, 15.9% EAR interest. M&S Bank only allows you to go Ј50 over your overdraft limit.

What's the deal with reward points – how much are they worth? If you spend using your debit card on this account, you'll get one point for every Ј1 spent in M&S, or in its online store. You get one Ј1 voucher for every 100 points, and M&S sends these to you quarterly. Bear in mind that this does mean you'd need to spend Ј500 at M&S just to get a Ј5 voucher.

How does the overdraft work? If you're accepted to get an account, then M&S give you an automatic Ј500 overdraft – though you may get more if your credit score's good enough.

The first Ј100 is interest free, and interest of 15.9% EAR applies afterwards. M&S doesn't charge overdraft fees, but at the same time, doesn't let you go more than Ј50 over your overdraft limit (except if payments are guaranteed).

When do I get the Ј125 gift card? If accepted, you'll either need to call M&S Bank or go into a branch within three months to complete your switch. Once you've completed the switch, you'll get the gift card and voucher within a calendar month.

How do I get the Ј5 monthly payment? As long as you've switched your account, including at least two active direct debits, and pay in Ј1,000 each month, you'll get an additional Ј5 credited to your gift card every month for the first 12 calendar months after receiving your initial bonus. The card will be topped up by the 15th of the following month.

Do I need to close my existing account? Yes, to get the switching bonus you'll need to complete a full switch, which includes the closure of the account you're switching from. If you use the Current Account Switch Service, this is done automatically, and all payments in and out are moved across to the new account.

My current bank isn't signed up to the Current Account Switch Service. Can I still get the switching bonus? Yes, you can. Most bank switching offers are only available if you use CASS to switch to them, but M&S Bank has made an exception for this offer. This means that Norwich & Peterborough customers whose accounts are being closed will be able to get the switching bonus. Just complete a manual switch, including two active direct debits, for the Ј125 gift card, and deposit at least Ј1,000 per month for the extra Ј5/mth.

Boosted. Free Ј125 cash paid quickly, plus Ј3/mth Halifax Reward

The Halifax Reward account gives you Ј125 to switch to it and is the quickest bank to pay its bonus, promising it by the time your switch completes. You can also get ongoing rewards of Ј3 per month if you meet minimum pay-in and direct debit criteria.

Need-to-knows
  • You need to start the switch by 11.59pm on Mon 13 Nov to get the Ј125 bonus.
  • You'll get the bonus paid into your account before the switch has completed.
  • To get the Ј3/mth reward, you need to pay in Ј750 each month, remain in credit, and pay out at least two direct debits.
  • Beware the overdraft – its daily fees can add up, plus if you're overdrawn, even only for a couple of days, you won't get the Ј3 that month. Do note though that if you switch, you get six months with no planned overdraft fees.
  • You won't be able to get the bonus if you've received any incentive for switching to Halifax since January 2012, or if you're switching from a Bank of Scotland account.
  • Halifax shares its Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with the rest of the HBOS group, so don't hold more than Ј85,000 across the group.
How Halifax Reward rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : None (Ј750 for Ј3 monthly payment)
  • In-credit 'interest': Ј3/mth
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 4.5/5) and Android (rated 4.4/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: No fees for 6mths if you switch. Ј50 buffer; then charges are tiered. Up to Ј2k: Ј1/day. Ј2k-Ј2,999: Ј2/day. Over Ј3k: Ј3/day.
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј5/day (max Ј95/mth)

What if I can't pay in Ј750 every month? If you miss a month's pay-in, you don't earn the Ј3. You won't face any other penalties.

What if I don't have two direct debits? As long as you use Halifax's current account switching service you'll still earn the Ј125 switching bonus, but without two direct debits, you won't earn the Ј3 a month reward. But, you could consider setting up direct debits, even if it's just Ј1/mth to charity, to get the reward.

What about tax on the interest? We've called it interest, but it doesn't work in the way other accounts do, as the amount you have in the account doesn't change how much you get. HMRC tells us this is not counted as savings income and therefore not covered under the personal savings allowance.

This means that Halifax pays you with basic-rate tax deducted. So, if you're a non- or higher-rate taxpayer, you should claim extra 'interest' using the R40 form or pay more via tax returns (see Interest Rates Guide).

Do I need to close my existing account? Yes, to get the switching bonus you'll need to complete a full switch using the Current Account Switch Service, which automatically closes the account you're switching from and moves across all payments in and out.

Are there any other perks? You can earn cashback at some retailers, though you need to have online/mobile banking to do this. Halifax's Cashback Extras means that if you shop at certain selected retailers, including Argos, Homebase and Body Shop, you'll get some cashback if you use your Halifax debit card.

You need to have online or mobile banking, as you need to activate your cashback offers before using them. Cashback offers are tailored, so not every customer will get the same offers.

Top accounts for savers (high interest)

Only a few years ago, several banks launched high-interest current accounts. But, following last August's Bank of England base rate cut, there's been a shake-up in the market, with several banks cutting the rates on their high interest accounts.

It's clear loyalty no longer pays with bank accounts, so it's also worth looking at the switching bribes above, and being ready to switch regularly to chase the free cash.

But here are the top deals for accounts paying interest – but remember all interest rates are variable (unless stated) so could drop further in future.

These are the right accounts to switch to if.

. you're always in credit.

. you can't find another account or investment that beats the interest.

. you're likely to have enough cash to leave in the account to actually earn the interest.

These are the wrong accounts to switch to if.

. you're regularly overdrawn.

. you don't have enough cash likely to be sitting in the account to make it worthwhile.

. you'd rather put your money elsewhere, eg, invest it or buy a property.

. you don't have financial self-control, as it can be easy to spend money sitting in your current account.

5% interest on Ј2,500 fixed but only for a year, 1% afterwards Nationwide FlexDirect

Open a Nationwide FlexDirect account and you'll get an interest rate of 5% AER on the first Ј2,500 of your cash.

This rate is fixed for the first year you hold the account, which gives some security in a world of uncertain savings rates. Be aware that it drops to 1% from year two, so look around then to see if it can be beaten. You can also open a linked 5% regular saver with this account.

Need-to-knows
  • Nationwide has told us it has no plans to change the rates on this account. Plus, because the rate is fixed, provided it's still at 5% when you apply for the account, you know that's the rate you'll get for the first year.
  • To get the interest, you'll need to pay in Ј1,000+ per month.
  • If you refer a friend and they successfully switch to a Nationwide current account you will both receive Ј100. You can be paid for referring up to 5 friends per tax year.
  • This account also offers a 12mth 0% overdraft (as long as you haven't had a FlexDirect account in the last year), though the limit you get is credit score dependent. After the 12 months, it charges 50p per day for the overdraft.
  • Nationwide has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.

How Nationwide rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј1,000/mth to get interest (equates to an annual salary of Ј12,850)
  • In-credit interest: 5% AER fixed in year one on up to Ј2,500, 1% in subsequent years
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 3.5/5) and Android (rated 3.7/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Year one: 0%; years two+: Ј10 buffer, then 50p/day
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Under Ј10: 50p/day, over Ј10: Ј5/day (max Ј60/mth), Ј5 paid/unpaid item fee (max Ј35/mth). Total unarranged fees capped at Ј95/month.

How do I get the interest? To get interest, you need to pay in Ј1,000 a month, though you only get interest when you're in credit.

What if I can't pay in Ј1,000? Nothing happens, you just won't be paid any interest if you're in credit at all that month.

How much will the overdraft cost? For the first year, your overdraft will cost nothing so long as you stay within your limit and you haven't had a FlexDirect account in the last year. After that, you pay 50p per day you're overdrawn (within your limit). So, if you have a limit of Ј1,500 and owe Ј1,000, then you'll pay Ј182.50 if you're overdrawn every day of the year.

Don't bust your overdraft limit, as you'll pay Ј5 per day plus a charge of Ј5 for every paid or unpaid item.

So, use the 12 months when your overdraft is at 0% to get your finances in order and avoid future fees. For tips, see Cutting Overdraft Costs.

Can I have two accounts? And two overdrafts? You can definitely have two accounts, and can even get two lots of interest – though one of your accounts must be joint to get this. Nationwide say that you may be able to get two overdrafts if you have two FlexDirect accounts, but each would be assessed on its merits, so there's no guarantee.

Are there any other perks? You can sign up to Nationwide's Simply Rewards scheme, which gives tailored cashback deals at selected retailers based on your spending habits. Once signed up, cashback is paid automatically within five working days of each valid spend.

Good for Tesco shoppers – 3% on Ј3,000 fixed until April 2019 + boosted Clubcard pts Tesco Bank

The Tesco Bank Current Account guarantees at least 3% AER variable on up to Ј3,000 until 1 April 2019 – though you have to pay out three direct debits per month on each account to get the interest.

You can open two accounts per person so if you're a couple it means you can open four, earning a decent 3% on up to Ј12,000.

As an extra perk, you get Clubcard points on debit card spending. The number you can earn in Tesco are quadrupled until 1 April 2019, from the usual 1 per Ј4 to 1 per Ј1, good if you're a Tesco shopper. For example, if you spend Ј80/week in Tesco, you get 80 points per week (4,160/yr). That's worth Ј41.60 in normal Clubcard points, but you can boost that to Ј166, and this is on top of normal Clubcard points.

Need-to-knows
  • To get the interest, you'll need to pay in Ј750 and pay out at least three direct debits each month – and direct debits to a Tesco Bank savings account don't count. Tesco Bank counts a month as a statement, not a calendar, month.
  • You can open two of these accounts, so it's possible to earn 3% on up to Ј6,000 if you take advantage of that. The one exception to this is if you have an old Clubcard Plus savings account, in which case you'll only be able to get one of these accounts.
  • If you have two Tesco Bank current accounts, it's possible to cycle the Ј750 minimum monthly pay-in between the two.
  • On top of normal Clubcard points earned in Tesco, you get one point per Ј1 spent in Tesco until 1 April 2019 (then one per Ј4 spent in Tesco), and one point for every Ј8 spent elsewhere.
  • The interest rate is guaranteed at a minimum of 3% AER until 1 April 2019.
  • Service is good, with 71% of Tesco Bank customers in our recent poll rating it 'great', though we had a limited number of votes.
  • Tesco Bank has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј750
  • In-credit interest: 3% AER variable under Ј3,000. Nothing above.
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 2/5) and Android (rated 3.6/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 18.9% EAR
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: 18.9% EAR; Ј5 paid item fee; Ј5 unpaid item fee (max Ј50 per statement)

How much interest can I earn? You can earn 3% AER on the first Ј3,000 you have in the account, but no interest on anything over that amount. Put and keep the full Ј3,000 in, and you'll get Ј88.80.

How many Clubcard points could I get? On top of your normal Clubcard points, you also earn 1 point per Ј1 spent in Tesco until 1 April 2019 and 1 point per Ј8 spent elsewhere on your Tesco debit card. We've crunched the numbers to see how much this could be worth, assuming you take advantage of Clubcard Boost to get 4x value for your points.

2% interest on Ј5,000 (+ trick to get it on Ј15k) Bank of Scotland Vantage

The Bank of Scotland Classic Account pays 2% AER variable on balances between up to Ј5,000. There is a trick in that the rules allow you to open three accounts, giving you 2% on Ј15,000. You'll still need to meet the criteria on each though – see our multiple account tips below for help.

Need-to-knows
  • The interest doesn't automatically come with the account – you need to add the 'Vantage' feature to the account to get it. You can do this during your application.
  • You'll need to pay in Ј1,000/mth, stay in credit, and have two different direct debits paid from the account(s) each month to get the interest.
  • You earn 2% AER variable interest on all balances between Ј1 and Ј5,000.
  • Bank of Scotland shares its Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with Halifax.
  • Multiple accounts tip one: Some MoneySavers have found issues when trying to open the second or third accounts too quickly. Waiting 48 hours between each and calling instead of applying online seems to make things easier.
  • Multiple accounts tip two: You can recycle Ј1,000 to meet the pay-in criteria – simply set up a standing order to move it from account one to account two, then two days later to account three, but remember to keep cash in to pay the direct debits.
  • Multiple accounts tip three: If you don't have enough direct debits, set up small direct debits to specific savings accounts or even to charity. Bank of Scotland doesn't care where the money's going, as long as they're direct debits. See full alternatives.
  • This account has a linked 2% regular saver, though this can be beaten by other regular saver accounts.
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј1,000 (equates to Ј12,850 annual salary)
  • In-credit interest: 2% AER variable between Ј1 and Ј5,000; nothing above Ј5,000
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 4.5/5) and Android (rated 4.3/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Ј25 buffer, then 19.89% EAR + Ј6/mth usage fee
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer, then 19.89% EAR with charges of Ј5/day between Ј10 and Ј25 over limit, Ј10/day for Ј25+ (max Ј80/mth) plus Ј6/mth usage fee; Ј10 unpaid item fee (max three/day)

How much interest can I earn? You can earn 2% AER on balances up to Ј5,000 in the account. Put and keep the full Ј5,000 in, and you'll get Ј99.

Can I have more than one account? You can open three of these accounts. However, each needs to be operated as if it's a main account, so you need to pay in Ј1,000 to all three each month, have two direct debits going out, and stay in credit to get the interest.

I've been asked to bring documents to a branch but I don't live in Scotland. What can I do? When applying, it's possible that Bank of Scotland may ask you to bring in some documents (normally if it can't ID-check you based on details you enter when you apply). Branches are only in Scotland, but if you live elsewhere in the UK, you can take them into a Halifax branch, where they should be able to make a copy and send them on.

Other top interest-paying current accounts

It's not just these accounts that offer decent interest rates. A few other accounts give you varying levels of decent interest (see below), and the one you pick should depend on how much cash you're likely to be able to keep in your account.

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Top accounts with ongoing cashback

Some accounts give you free cash for paying bills, or for using the account regularly. However, many of them come with a fee, so check you spend enough on bills to cover the monthly fee (if it has one) before going for one of these.

These are the right accounts to switch to if.

. you want cashback for using the account

. you pay your bills by direct debit

These are the wrong accounts to switch to if.

. you just want upfront cash for switching

. you don't have or use direct debits

1-3% cashback on bills and cheapest fee of the cashback accounts Santander 123 Lite*

The Santander 123 Lite* gives 1-3% cashback on seven different bills, including council tax, water and energy, as long as you pay by direct debit, for a monthly fee of Ј1. If you have a Santander mortgage then you could get up to Ј10/mth cashback on that, which gives seriously good returns on this account.

If you have high bills and don't use mobile payments, then the NatWest account below could beat this one, as it pays a flat 2% cashback on the same bills, though comes with a higher Ј2/mth fee.

Need-to-knows
  • You can get cashback on some bills – 3% on phone, broadband, mobile and TV, 2% on gas and electricity and Santander home insurance, 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgage payments (max Ј10/mth on mortgage), as long as you pay them by direct debit.
  • Santander only pays cashback in months you've paid in Ј500+, had two 'active' (so not disused) direct debits, and paid your monthly fee. You also need to log in to online or mobile banking at least once every three months. Watch out, it counts a month from the anniversary of account opening, not a calendar month.
  • You can apply for the account by phone or in branch, and once open it's paperless so you won't get statements through the post.
  • You can have two accounts, but one must be joint.
  • You also get access to a linked 5% regular saver.
  • The main Santander 123 account comes with the same cashback but has a higher Ј5 monthly fee. It also pays 1.5% AER variable interest on up to Ј20,000, though the higher fee means its likely beaten by getting the 123 Lite and the top easy-access savings account.
  • Santander shares its Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with Cahoot, so don't hold more than Ј85,000 across the two banks.
How Santander rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј500 (equates to Ј6,000 annual salary)
  • In-credit interest: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 3/5) and Android (rated 4.2/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% for four months after switching. Then, Ј12 buffer and Ј1/day below Ј2,000, Ј2/day from Ј2,000-Ј2,999.99 and Ј3/day over Ј3,000.
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј12 buffer then Ј6/day (max Ј95/mth)

Is there a catch with the cashback? Santander has a list of qualifying suppliers (though it's worth checking with it about your suppliers, if they're not listed). You also need to pay your bills by direct debit from the account to get the cashback.

How much cashback could I really earn? We've crunched the numbers on how this stacks up for low, average and high bill payers. After the fee, we worked out low users would be up by Ј66 a year, average users Ј138 and high users Ј252, assuming they have a Santander mortgage. Without a Santander mortgage, low users would be up by Ј36 a year, average users Ј72 and high users Ј132.

The cashback works best for those who have a mortgage payment of around Ј1,000 a month with Santander – but even without the mortgage payment, you should still be be able to make money from this account, even after the fee is covered.

Our table details how the account works for low, medium and high bill payers.

Santander 123 Lite – cashback earned

*Santander mortgage payment cashback capped at Ј10/month.

Amounts rounded. Based on typical bills provided by firms & government bodies.

Flat 2% cashback rate on the same bills as the accounts above

If you don't have a Santander mortgage and have high monthly bills, then NatWest's* Reward Account could beat the Santander account above. For a Ј2 monthly fee, it will pay you a straight 2% cashback on the same bills, including council tax, water and energy, as long as you pay by direct debit.

Note the fairly high minimum monthly pay-in – Ј1,500/month – so consider if you'll be able to meet this before you apply.

Need-to-knows
  • You can get 2% cashback on council tax, gas, electricity, water, home phone, mobile, TV and broadband, as long as you pay by direct debit.
  • There's a minimum pay-in of Ј1,500 per month, and you also need to register for online or mobile banking.
  • You'd have to spend at least Ј100 per month to earn any net profit from the account.
  • You can cash in your rewards as soon as you reach Ј5, and can take this in the form of cash, vouchers with retailers such as Cineworld and Caffи Nero or a donation to one of four charities (Barnardo's, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support or NSPCC).
  • RBS also offers the same account, though you have to live in Scotland and apply in branch.
  • NatWest has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
How NatWest rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј1,500 (equates to an annual salary of Ј21,650)
  • In-credit interest: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 3.5/5) and Android (rated 4.6/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer, then Ј6/month fee plus 19.89% EAR interest
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer, then Ј8/day fee (max charges of Ј72 per month) plus Ј8 unpaid item fee (max one per month)

Is there a catch with the cashback? NatWest has a list of qualifying suppliers (though it's worth checking with it about your suppliers, even if they're not listed). You also need to pay your bills by direct debit from the account to get the cashback – any payments made by, for example, debit card or standing order, won't qualify. The household bills that qualify for cashback do not include fuel and oil, maintenance, insurance, TV licence, on-demand internet streaming services or any commercial contracts.

How much cashback could I really earn? We crunched the numbers on how this stacks up for low, average and high bill payers. After the fee, we worked out low users would be up by Ј30 a year, average users Ј66 and high users Ј135.

Plus, our poll showed that some people spend even more on their bills, with 1.5% stacking up an annual cashback of at least Ј216.

As long as the bills are for personal (not business) household use, there is no cap on the cashback amount you can earn, eg, if you pay a child's mobile phone bill from the account as well as your main mobile and electricity bills, you'll also earn 2% back on those, which could boost your earnings.

Our table details how the account works for low, medium and high bill payers after and before the cashback change.

NatWest Reward Account

Amounts rounded. Based on typical bills provided by firms & government bodies.

Are there any other perks? If you hold a Reward Credit Card, the annual fee will be refunded in any year you hold the Reward Current Account. However, it's not necessarily the best reward card, so see our guide for more options.

Up to Ј10/mth cashback until June 2018 plus 3% interest on Ј1,500 TSB Classic Plus*

The TSB Classic Plus* pays you Ј5 every month you have two or more direct debits paid out from the account, so it's a good return if you have few bills or low bills. You can also get another Ј5/mth cashback if you use your debit card at least 20 times in that month.

The account also pays 3% AER variable on the first Ј1,500 in your account. All these perks mean you could earn around Ј165 if you switch and keep the account for a year.

Need-to-knows
  • Both cashback offers are available until 30 June 2018, meaning you could get a maximum of Ј90 cashback before then.
  • The 20 transactions need to be made within a calendar month – the date of transaction will be when the money's taken from your account, which could be a couple of days after you spend. Online, contactless and Apple and Android Pay transactions count, but ATM withdrawals don't.
  • The direct debits need to go out within the calendar month (so watch out for bank holidays & weekends), and need to be paid to different companies.
  • You'll need to pay in Ј500/mth, register for internet banking (and log in at least once a year) & opt for paperless statements & correspondence to get the interest. You need to be registered for internet banking for the direct debit cashback.
  • This offer's for accounts opened after 1 March 2017 – you won't be able to get it if you had an existing account before this.
  • If you have more than one account, you can get the cashback on both, provided you meet the criteria on each account.
  • This account has a linked 2% regular saver, though this can be beaten by other regular saver accounts.
  • TSB has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
How TSB rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј500 (equates to an annual salary of Ј6,000)
  • In-credit interest: 3% AER variable under Ј1,500.
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 1.5/5) and Android (rated 2/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Up to Ј25 fee-free and Ј10 buffer, then 19.84% EAR + Ј6/mth usage fee
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer, then 19.84% EAR with charges of Ј5/day under Ј25, Ј10/day for Ј25+ (max Ј80/mth) plus Ј6/mth usage fee; Ј10 unpaid item fee (max three/day)

How much interest can I earn? You can earn 3% AER on the first Ј1,500 in the account, but no interest on anything over that amount. Put and keep the full Ј1,500 in and you'll get Ј44.40 per year.

Can I have more than one account? You can only open two accounts if one is a single and one is a joint account – think carefully before doing this, as if you join finances with someone else, their credit record affects yours. Joint accounts can only be opened in branch, and TSB recommends booking an appointment in advance.

Each account needs to be operated as if it's a main current account, so you need to pay Ј500 in to both each month (though you can fund one from the other). You also need to sign up to internet banking & paperless statements and correspondence on both accounts to get the interest paid.

Other accounts that offer rewards

While they don't make it into our top picks above, there are a few other accounts that offer monthly cash payments in return for your custom. We wouldn't suggest you specifically switch to them over the other accounts in this guide, but if you want some extra rewards you could consider them:

  • Sign up to Co-op Bank's Everyday Rewards scheme and you can earn up to Ј5.50/mth. You'll get Ј4 each month you pay in Ј800, pay out four direct debits, receive paperless statements, log in to online or mobile banking, and stay within your overdraft limit. If you meet all the criteria above, you'll also get 5p per debit card transaction, up to a maximum of Ј1.50 per month, though getting this isn't worth spending more than you usually would.
  • Danske Bank's Cash Reward account has a Ј2 monthly fee, but pays Ј7 each month you pay in Ј1,200+, pay out at least three direct debits and log on to online/mobile/tablet banking at least once. Branches are in Northern Ireland, but you can open an account over the phone even if you don't live there – just be aware that you won't have access to branch banking in the rest of the UK.
  • Barclays Blue Rewards is an add-on to Barclays current accounts which, for a Ј3 monthly fee, will pay you at least Ј7/month back – as long as you pay in Ј800+ and pay out at least two direct debits each month. You can get even more if you hold selected products with Barclays. For full details of the scheme, see our Barclays Blue Rewards news story.

Top account if you want insurance

These accounts tend to come with insurance, or other perks. But it's worth checking you'll use what the account offers – if not, then you're better off looking at other accounts that reward you in different ways. In this section, we have a paid-for account that could save big bucks.

These are the right accounts to switch to if.

. you're always in credit

. you genuinely need the associated insurance

. you can't get the insurance cheaper elsewhere

These are the wrong accounts to switch to if.

. you are regularly overdrawn

. you don't need the insurance

. you can find the associated insurance cheaper elsewhere

Up to Ј600 of travel, mobile & breakdown cover for Ј156 Nationwide FlexPlus Monthly fee Ј13 (Ј156/yr)

Nationwide's FlexPlus account is a cracking deal – IF you'll use the features. You get worldwide family travel insurance up to age 74 (which can cost more than the account charges alone), smartphone insurance for all the family (at the same address) and UK & Europe breakdown cover.

You also get 3% AER variable interest on up to Ј2,500, meaning you could earn Ј74 in interest each year. Nationwide has recently increased the monthly fee and tweaked some features of the account, but it's still one of our top picks.

Need-to-knows
  • The travel insurance covers worldwide trips (including golf, business and winter sports) for all family members at the same address up to your 75th birthday. It also covers those under 19 (under 22 if in full-time education) who travel independently.
  • The mobile cover includes loss, theft, damage or breakdown, for all phones owned by family members living at your address (max value Ј1,000, children must be under 19 or 22 if in full time education).
  • You get breakdown cover with the account, across the UK and Europe. It covers the account holder(s) driving any private car.
  • We've calculated that all the insurances this account offers could be worth Ј600 or more. Here's how we worked this out

- Mobile cover for all the family's smartphones. Our cheapest iPhone insurance costs Ј70 a year so if there are four of you, that's Ј280's worth.

- World family travel insurance (inc golf cover). Cheapest comparable cover we've found elsewhere is Ј60-Ј161/yr for the travel insurance for an under-65, Ј121-Ј242 if 65-74, plus Ј24/yr for golf cover.

- European breakdown cover. Covers account holder(s) in any car. Similar cover we've found elsewhere is Ј60-Ј73/yr.

A family of four needing it all could pay up to Ј600 buying all the comparable insurances separately. Do bear in mind that the price of individual cover will also vary with the number of people in your family being covered.

  • In-credit interest: 3% AER variable up to Ј2,500
  • Min monthly pay-in: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 3.5/5) and Android (rated 3.7/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 3 months fee-free, Ј250 fee-free buffer after, 50p per day above that
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Up to Ј10 charged 50p/day. Over Ј10 charged Ј5 per day (max Ј50/month)

What does the worldwide family travel insurance cover? It allows multiple trips worldwide and includes winter sports, business, wedding and golf cover (includes golf fees). The cheapest you could normally get worldwide family travel insurance for is Ј60, but for a top value policy like this you could pay Ј180 per year (read our full Travel Insurance guide).

I'm over 75. What about me? If you're 75 or over, you'll need to pay a Ј50/yr premium for your travel cover. This isn't necessarily the best deal on the market, so always compare with the premiums in Cheap Travel Insurance.

What does the mobile phone insurance cover? It covers repair or replacement after theft, loss or damage, insuring each handset up to the value of Ј1,000, so it'll cover all smartphones. The excess is a maximum of Ј100 for an iPhone. Unusually, it covers the phones of all family members, provided they live with you (children must be under 19 or under 22 if in full-time education, and cannot be married or in a civil partnership) – so maxed out, this gives serious value. You can make a maximum of four claims per year. See Mobile Insurance for more details.

What does the breakdown cover include? It's for the UK and Europe including home assistance and onward travel. Cover is for the person, and people travelling in your vehicle (so everyone would be taken to their destination). On a joint account both account holders would be covered.

Can I use the card abroad? The debit card with the account has no fee or load for cash withdrawals abroad, making it a leading debit card for overseas use. But it still has a 2% charge when using it for overseas purchases, so don't use it for this. Instead, for overseas purchases, if you have the FlexPlus account, you're also eligible for the Nationwide Select credit card. It gives 0% load on overseas purchases, as well as 0.5% cashback on UK spending and 12 months 0% on balance transfers and purchases.

How is the bank rated? In our Aug 2017 poll, Nationwide was voted 'great' by 74% of voters, while 20% said it was 'OK' and 6% 'poor'.

Top accounts if you're overdrawn

Overdrafts are debts, and often they're much more expensive than credit cards, so you need to find an account with the lowest fees possible.

But if you are overdrawn, don't just tackle the symptoms. Also try using the free budget planner, give yourself a money makeover to tackle its causes and check our Cut Overdraft Costs guide.

If you've decided that you do want to switch accounts to make your overdraft cheaper, then there are three top picks below:

These are the right accounts to switch to if.

. you're regularly or always overdrawn

These are the wrong accounts to switch to if.

. you're always in credit

Ј250 0% overdraft, plus free Ј125 when you switch to the account First Direct*

If you just dip in and out of your overdraft, the First Direct* account should cover you for free, as it has a Ј250 0% overdraft. Plus, if you apply via our link and do a full switch to it, you get Ј125 free cash which you could put towards your overdraft to help you pay it off.

It's also the best account for service, with 90% saying they had 'great' service from First Direct in our last poll

Need-to-knows
  • If you go more than Ј250 into your overdraft, you pay interest of 15.9% EAR, making it one of the lower-cost overdrafts on offer.
  • You need to pay in Ј1,000+ each calendar month, or maintain an average monthly balance of Ј1,000 to keep the account free (Ј10 otherwise).
  • First Direct will pay you a bonus of Ј125 if you're a new customer switching to its account using its dedicated switching service, as long as you pay in Ј1,000 within three months of opening the account.
  • If you qualify, the Ј125 will arrive within 28 days of your switch completing.
  • You can't get the switching bonus if you've ever held an account with First Direct before.
  • You also get access to a linked 5% regular saver.
  • First Direct shares its Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee with HSBC, so ensure you don't hold more than Ј85,000 across the two banks.

How First Direct rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : Ј1,000 (equates to an annual salary of Ј12,850)
  • In-credit interest: None
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 4.5/5) and Android (rated 3.1/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 0% under Ј250, 15.9% EAR above that
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Ј10 buffer then Ј5/day (max Ј80/mth) plus 15.9% EAR

How do I get the Ј125 switching bonus? Once you've opened and been accepted for the account, you have three months in which to complete your switch and pay in Ј1,000. Once you've done that, the Ј125 bonus will be paid within 28 days.

What if I can't pay in Ј1,000 every month? If your salary reduces and you can no longer pay in Ј1,000 per month you'll be whacked with a Ј10 monthly fee. However, if you have another account with First Direct – savings or a mortgage – then it's waived, so just open a bog standard savings account (this trick excludes the 5% regular savings account), and put the minimum amount in. The fee will also be waived if you maintain an average monthly balance of Ј1,000 or more.

Can I open two of these accounts? You can open two accounts if the second one is a joint account, but you'll only get the switching bonus once (as it's only for new customers). Plus, opening a joint account financially links you with the other person, so think carefully before doing so.

Are there any other perks? You can sign up to First Direct's Visa Offers scheme, which gives tailored cashback deals at selected retailers based on your spending habits. Once signed up, cashback is paid automatically within five working days of each valid spend.

12 months 0% overdraft – a respite to sort your finances Nationwide FlexDirect

If you're often or always in your overdraft, you'll be used to paying interest or charges. But open a Nationwide FlexDirect account, and you get a year's 0% overdraft. It's important that you see this as a respite to try to clear your overdraft, as you do start paying for it (although fees are lowish at just 50p/day) once you've had the account for a year.

If you are switching to this account, there's no guarantee Nationwide will give you an overdraft as large as the one you currently have with your existing bank, as the limit you get is subject to a credit check.

Need-to-knows
  • Never go over your agreed overdraft limit, as charges are a hefty Ј5 PER DAY if you do.
  • There's no minimum amount that you need to pay in, although if you pay in Ј1,000 or more a month, you'll get interest for any time you're in credit – 5% on balances up to Ј2,500 in the first year, then 1% afterwards.
  • If you refer a friend and they successfully switch to a Nationwide current account you will both receive Ј100. You can be paid for referring up to 5 friends per tax year.
  • You won't get the fee-free overdraft if you've had a FlexDirect account in the last 12 months.
  • You also get access to a linked 5% regular saver.
  • Nationwide has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.

How Nationwide rates on service
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : None (Ј1,000/mth to get interest)
  • In-credit interest: 5% in year one on up to Ј2,500, 1% in subsequent years
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 3.5/5) and Android (rated 3.7/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: Year one: 0%; years two+: Ј10 buffer, then 50p/day
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: Under Ј10: 50p/day, over Ј10: Ј5/day (max Ј60/mth), Ј5 paid/unpaid item fee (max Ј35/mth). Total unarranged fees capped at Ј95/month.

How much will the overdraft cost? For the first year, your overdraft will cost nothing so long as you stay within your limit and you haven't had a FlexDirect account open within the last year. After that, you pay 50p per day you're overdrawn (within your limit). So, if you have a limit of Ј1,500 and owe Ј1,000, then you'll pay Ј182.50 if you're overdrawn every day of the year.

Don't bust your overdraft limit, as you'll pay Ј5 per day plus a charge of Ј5 for every paid or unpaid item.

So, use the 12 months when your overdraft is at 0% to get your finances in order and avoid future fees. For tips, see Cutting Overdraft Costs.

How do I get the interest? To get interest, you need to pay in Ј1,000 a month, though you only get interest when you're in credit.

What if I can't pay in Ј1,000? Nothing happens, you just won't be paid any interest if you're in credit at all that month.

Can I have two accounts? And two overdrafts? You can definitely have two accounts, and can even get two lots of interest – though one of your accounts must be joint to get this. Nationwide say that you may be able to get two overdrafts if you have two FlexDirect accounts, but each would be assessed on its merits, so there's no guarantee.

Easy-to-control overdraft with a low-ish rate, plus no extra charges if you bust your limit Starling Bank*

Though it doesn't offer a 0% overdraft, new app-based Starling Bank* has one of the lowest standard overdraft costs of 15% EAR interest, and unusually it won't charge you extra if you go over your agreed overdraft limit.

It's also easy to control your overdraft limit in the app, and Starling will send you real-time notifications when you use your debit card and when you're about to go into, or are using, your overdraft.

Starling Bank is a new challenger bank, which opened applications to its current account in May 2017. For now it has no fees, though it's possible that this'll change in the future.

Need-to-knows
  • Overdraft interest is waived if it's less than 10p in any month.
  • If you go past your overdraft limit, you won't face any extra charges but won't be able to use your account until you bring your balance back inside your limit.
  • Unlike many other banks, Starling doesn't require you to pay in a minimum monthly amount or have direct debits set up.
  • If you're in credit you'll earn 0.5% AER interest on up to Ј2,000 and 0.25% AER interest between Ј2,000 and Ј85,000.
  • Starling Bank has the full Ј85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.
  • Minimum monthly pay-in : None
  • In-credit interest: 0.5% AER variable on up to Ј2,000. 0.25% between Ј2,000 and Ј85,000.
  • App: You can download it for iOS (rated 4/5) and Android (rated 4/5).
  • Arranged overdraft cost: 15% EAR variable (waived if less than 10p in any month).
  • Unarranged overdraft cost: 15% EAR variable (waived if less than 10p in any month). Max Ј2/mth

What else can the app do? As well as providing spending notifications and insights, the app lets you freeze and unfreeze your debit card at the touch of a button, report it lost or stolen or get a PIN reminder in-app. You can also turn off certain functions of your card like online spending, contactless payments or ATM withdrawals if you want to control a specific type of spending.

Starling has just launched its 'Marketplace', which lets you use other companies' services through the Starling app. There's only one company featured at the moment, but in the future it'll offer things like ISAs, savings accounts, insurance and mortgages.

Are there limits on using the debit card? You can make up to three cash withdrawals a day, totalling a maximum of Ј300.

What exchange rate will I get overseas? The debit card is a Mastercard, so you'll get the Mastercard rate, which you can check here. There are no fees to use your card abroad, making it a top pick for overseas use.

Will Starling credit check me? If you apply for an overdraft, Starling will run a full credit check on you. If you just apply for the account without an overdraft, it'll just run an ID check on you, which won't appear to lenders on your credit report (though you'll be able to see it).

Is my money protected? Yes, Starling Bank has full FSCS protection, so your money saved with it is safe up to Ј85,000.

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Ethical bank accounts

Ethical current accounts – where providers behave ethically in terms of the environment, human rights and more – have jumped in popularity. Our main focus always is telling you the top deals based on what the accounts offer, but to match demand we've worked with Ethical Consumer to list the top accounts that also rate highly on their ethics.

These are the right accounts to switch to if.

. you're always in credit.

. you want an account from a provider with an ethical policy.

These are the wrong accounts to switch to if.

. you're regularly or always overdrawn;

. your sole objective is to get the account with the best bonus/interest or the lowest overdraft fees. Some of these accounts are market-leading in their category, but others aren't.

See the chart below for what Ethical Consumer's ratings mean.

Get 5% interest for a year or cheap foreign spending Top Rated Ethical Bank Accounts

Ethical Rating 12.5/20

Nationwide – 5% interest for a year

Nationwide's FlexDirect gives 5% interest fixed for a year, and has a decent customer service rating. Min salary: Ј12,850. See full details.

Customer service: 74% great, 20% OK, 6% poor.

Ethical Rating 12.5/20

Co-operative Bank – Ethical banking and Ј5.50 monthly rewards

Co-op's Current Account offers Ј5.50/month with its Everyday Rewards scheme if you jump through some hoops. It's one of Ethical Consumer's top picks for its unique campaigning brand.

Customer service: 73% great, 21% OK, 6% poor.

Quick questions

How did the change of ownership affect Co-op Bank's score?

Back in 2013, Co-op Bank was largely taken over by hedge funds, though it's retained its ethical stance with Ethical Consumer scoring it a decent 12.5.

The bank put itself up for sale in Feb 2017, though this has now been cancelled as it's reached a deal with its existing investors. Co-op Bank says that this will protect its ethics.

How safe are savings in the Co-op Bank?

There are still fears about the stability of the Co-op Bank. Yet the key fact is the first Ј85,000 of savings per person in the combined group (Co-op Bank, Smile, Britannia) is guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This includes money in your current account. For how this works, see full Savings Safety info.

Other high-scoring ethical providers

Other high-scoring ethical providers include Metro Bank (branches in London/ SE England), Cumberland BS and Coventry BS, though most of these are for locals only.

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account.

Full help to take advantage of this and pros & cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Want to complain about your bank account?

If your bank's charged you the wrong amount, taken the wrong amount in payment, or its service has been atrocious, then you don't have to suffer in silence. It's always worth trying to call the bank first to see if it can help, but if not.

Free tool if you're having problems

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver, which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, you can use Resolver to escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Q&A Bank accounts

How does it work with reward payments and tax?

As well as offering in-credit interest or bonuses for switching, a few current accounts now pay rewards for holding the account and meeting certain criteria, such as paying in a set amount each month or having direct debits.

Some of these, such as the Halifax Reward Account and Co-op Bank's Everyday Rewards scheme, are paid with basic-rate tax already deducted. Others, including Barclays Blue Rewards, are paid without any tax removed.

With the introduction in April 2016 of the personal savings allowance (PSA), meaning interest is now paid tax-free, some people hoped that they'd see an increase in the reward amounts paid to them.

However, these payments don't count as savings income for tax purposes and instead are classed as either 'annual' or 'miscellaneous' payments. This means that the rewards don't count towards your PSA, and they're still liable to be taxed.

If you're a non-taxpayer, you should claim back any tax taken using the R40 form. Higher and additional-rate taxpayers may need to pay more via tax returns.

Is there a way to track down old bank accounts?

In the UK, old, now-dormant accounts hold billions of pounds that lay unclaimed – and if you've switched several times, you may still have old accounts that were never closed.

It's straightforward to get it back, we've full details in the Reclaim Forgotten Cash guide.

What if I can't pay a set amount into my bank account every month?

This isn't usually a problem. Mostly it just means that you won't get whatever benefits that account offers for that month, though watch out for the First Direct and Lloyds accounts, as they'll charge you a fee if you don't meet the minimum pay-ins.

Other accounts will just not pay you interest, for example, the Halifax Reward and Santander accounts don't need regular monthly deposits, but unless you sometimes pay at least Ј750 and Ј500 in respectively, you'll never earn any interest.

Unusually, M&S Bank offers a decent current account with no minimum pay-in required for most of its benefits.

I applied for one of these accounts and got rejected. What can I do?

You could try a basic bank account. These don't credit score you (though you need ID) as they don't offer overdrafts. Make sure you ask for their application forms, or you'll get standard ones for standard bank accounts, and then be rejected. Full help and tips in our Basic Bank Accounts guide.

How do I find my local branch?

If you go onto your bank's website it will all have a 'branch finder' facility. Usually you'll have to type in your location or postcode and your nearest branch will come up. If you're searching on a mobile phone, often it will link to your GPS location and will automatically show you where your closest branch is.

If you just want to find your closest bank, and don't mind which bank it is, then visit yell.com and input that you're searching for a bank, and your postcode. It will then list the nearest branches, and tell you how far away they are.

Bear in mind, though, that this may miss banks' agencies – they're often found in local solicitors' or estate agents' offices. For these, you may have to ask locally.

How long do transfers take?

Most banks these days use Faster Payments for bank transfers, meaning most transfers you make should arrive within two hours, or at least the same day.

Faster Payments is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year, so even if you transfer some money to someone you owe on Christmas Day, it will arrive in their account the same day.

If for any reason your bank or building society can't use Faster Payments (many credit unions can't, for example), then they will do a BACS transfer which takes three to five working days.

How long does a cheque take to clear?

It depends on which bank you're with, but the basic principle of 2-4-6 applies to all banks.

After two working days any interest will start to be earned on the money from the cheque. After four working days the funds will be available for you to use. And after six working days the money cannot be taken from you (unless you have acted fraudulently).

Cheques could take a day longer than the 2-4-6 system if you pay in a cheque late in the business day, as it may not be processed until the next working day.

How long does it take for money I pay in to count towards my balance?

If you pay the money in over the counter in your branch then the money will count towards your balance immediately. However, if you pay the money in via one of the bank's ATMs, it will vary and can take up to two more days to count towards your balance.

What's the difference between a direct debit, standing order and recurring payment?

A direct debit is where you give permission to a company to take money from your bank account, and the amount can vary depending on what you're paying for. You have very little control over how much money is taken, though the company you're paying will tend to send you a statement informing you of how much will be taken and when.

A standing order is an instruction from you, to your bank, to pay a fixed amount of money to an account. You can send a standing order to any account, bill, mortgage payment or organisation. You have full control over how much and how frequent the payments should be.

A recurring payment is where you give a company your card details, and they use them to set up a regular or continuous payment from your card. You'll know if it's a recurring payment if you give the company your 16 digit card number, rather than your bank account number and sort code.

They're usually used if you're paying for a subscription, like a DVD rental service, or online porn site. With these payments you have very little control over how much or when they'll take out your money, and you usually won't be informed that the company will be taking a payment.

However, you can ask your bank to cancel them, as well as asking the retailer, if you want to end the service. See Recurring Payments.

How do I set up a direct debit or standing order?

Direct debits are set up by the company you're paying. In most instances, the company will ask for your account details, and they'll set up a direct debit for you. However, sometimes they'll send you a direct debit form that you need to fill out, and hand in to your bank or send back. You can't set up a direct debit yourself.

A standing order is a payment you can set up yourself. You'll do this via your bank, either in branch, on the phone, or online. To set one up you'll need the account details you're sending money to and you'll need to put in a set amount you want to send each time (you can change the amount with a day or two's notice).

How do I transfer money using a mobile phone number?

If you have a smartphone, you can use a service called Paym, which allows you to transfer up to Ј250 a day by using a mobile phone number.

You need to link to your mobile phone number to your account, through your mobile phone app or your online banking. Once linked, you can make a payment by selecting the person the person you want to pay from your mobile phone contacts, or manually enter a mobile phone number – but, you can only send cash this way to people who have also registered their mobile number to receive mobile payments.

You'll then be asked to confirm the name of the recipient. Once you're happy, check the amount and press 'send'. You'll also receive confirmation that your payment has been sent. And don't worry, you won't be able to pay anyone who isn't registered.

Is internet and mobile banking safe?

Yes. Banks have security systems in place that ensure fraudsters can't hack into your account whether you're logged in online or on your phone. But you still need to be careful – never ever send your online/mobile banking information to anyone.

If you're using a mobile app make sure you download your bank's official mobile app from your App store, and make sure you update the app regularly with any new security features.

It's also worth keeping your computer up to date with Free Antivirus software, so you're protected from viruses and spyware.

Savings Safety

Provided the money is in a UK regulated bank or building society account, it's protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) meaning.

up to Ј85,000 per person, per financial institution is guaranteed

For large savings, to keep it 100% safe, simply spread it in a number of accounts, not putting more than Ј85,000 in any one account. In fact, consider spreading money even if you've under this amount, as if you needed to claim compensation you wouldn't have instant access to your cash.

The exact rules about what counts as 'UK regulated', the links between institutions, and joint accounts make it more complex. For full info see the detailed Are Your Savings Safe? guide.

What does 'pay in' mean?

Most accounts require you to deposit a certain amount every month. This needn't stay in the account, nor must you actually be in credit, it just has to be paid in.

In effect this sets a minimum earnings threshold. The following are the most common equivalences.

  • Ј500/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј6,000.
  • Ј750/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј9,200.
  • Ј1,000/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј13,300.
  • Ј1,500/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј22,200.

What does 'pay-in' mean?

Most accounts require you to deposit a certain amount every month. This needn't stay in the account, nor must you actually be in credit, it just has to be paid in.

In effect this sets a minimum earnings threshold. The following are the most common equivalences.

  • Ј500/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј6,000.
  • Ј750/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј9,200.
  • Ј1,000/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј13,300.
  • Ј1,500/month pay-in = a pre-tax annual salary of at least Ј22,200.

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