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Current Accounts - buyer's guide

How to find the best Current Account

Many of us forget to look at our day-to-day banking, but choosing the best current account for your needs is an important decision. Interest rates paid on credit balances may have dwindled to almost nothing, but there are plenty of other things to bear in mind when choosing the best current account.

  • Decide what you want from an account. The three main types are: basic accounts, where you get a debit card (with limited use) but may not have access to an overdraft; a standard account, offering a fully-functioning debit card plus an authorised overdraft facility; and a packaged or premium account, where you pay for added benefits such as insurance and car breakdown cover, reward points or even interest on balances.
  • Ask yourself if you’re the type of person to remain in credit or regularly require an overdraft. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to find the best current account for low overdraft fees and charges – but check how long you are allowed to be overdrawn for and whether there are any unauthorised charges.
  • Do you want to use a high street branch or would you be happy with an online current account? The latter allows you to manage your money from home and most providers tend to have linked smartphone apps so you can sort your finances out on the go.
  • The best current accounts at least pay something on credit balances, so if you do tend to have cash leftover in your account every month, look for an account offering the best interest rate – but bear in mind some of these might be fee-based. Some accounts paying a decent rate might offer an introductory bonus – check the rate once this expires.
  • If you’re the kind of person who likes perks, compare accounts offering rewards – some banks will credit your account with, say £5 a month, if they remain in credit.
  • If you spend a lot of time overseas, bear that in mind when looking at the best current accounts for cheap overseas ATM withdrawals and purchases. Some charge more that others for using your plastic abroad.