How do I open a bank account?

Whether you’re a student or starting your first job, having a bank account is a key milestone. In this guide, we’ll break down the process into simple steps and provide three top tips to make the experience smooth and stress-free.

In short, it’s simply a matter of filling in a form and providing proof of your ID and address, but below is what to expect in a bit more detail.

Step 1: Choose the right bank

Selecting the right bank is the first and most crucial step in opening a bank account. Different banks offer various perks and services tailored to different needs. Some banks are known for their student-friendly accounts, while others may cater to young professionals or those looking for specific features like easy money transfers to friends or budgeting tools. We’ve got a separate article on how to find the right bank account for you.

Step 2: Have your documents ready

Once you’ve chosen a bank, it’s time to gather the required documents for the account application. The standard documents typically include proof of identity, proof of address, and sometimes proof of income, depending on the type of account you’re opening. The most commonly accepted documents include a passport, driving license, utility bills, and a recent payslip or student ID.

If you don’t have the exact documents the application form asks for, don’t worry – talk to someone at the bank and they will tell you what alternative letters or documents you can provide. Or try typing ‘[bank’s name] id documents’ into a search engine and that should hopefully help you find a list of all acceptable documents on their website.

Note: If you are care experienced, you should check to see if your local authority can help with providing proof of ID or address if you need it. Some banks have special arrangements with local councils to make this work.

Step 3: Visit the bank or apply online

With your documents in hand, it’s time to visit the bank or start the online application process. Many banks offer the convenience of applying for an account online, but opening an account at a branch will make it easy to ask staff any questions you might have.

Online banks like Starling and Monzo have entirely online application processes. This might involve taking photos of your ID and recording videos for them to save as a reference for who you are. While they don’t have branches you can walk into, they usually have good customer support instead.

If you’re opening an account with another person or people, then each of you will need to complete the application form.

Take the time to check all the details on the form are correct since mistakes can lead to delays or failed applications.

Three top tips

Research and compare

Before making a decision, explore the options available. Look into fees, interest rates, and additional services such as overdraft facilities. Online reviews and recommendations from friends can also be valuable in making an informed choice.

Be prepared

Save time and avoid frustration by ensuring you have all the necessary documents before heading to the bank or starting the online application.

Ask questions

Don’t hesitate to ask the bank staff or customer service any questions you may have about the account, fees, or additional services. Understanding the terms and conditions is crucial for making the most out of your chosen account.

Opening a bank account should be relatively straight-forward and quick – and if you run into difficulty, there should be plenty of customer support available from the bank account provider to help you out.

It’s worth remembering that a bank account doesn’t have to be for life. Often banks offer incentives for new customers, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for bank account deals.

If you’ve opened a current account, it’s easy to change bank by using the Current Account Switch Service.

If you’ve opened a savings account, check the terms for when and how often you can withdraw money, but otherwise it’s as simple as closing the account and transferring the entire balance to a new account (you can also have more than one savings account).

Opening a bank account is a significant step toward financial independence. It paves the way for accessing opportunities to make your money work for you, such as earning interest, starting an investment portfolio or automatically tracking spending with budgeting tools. Being able to open a bank account will be a helpful life-long skill, as you switch bank accounts to make the most of new customer incentives or receive higher interest rates on your savings.

Related Articles

Skip to content