How to find your ideal current account this November
There has never been a better time to ditch shoddy service and punishing charges to find the best current account
Most of us take it for granted - the ability to access and manage our cash in a range of different ways, instantly. With household finances still firmly on the squeeze, we all need to make our money work harder for us, how ever we use it.
The current account is the bedrock of the UK's consumer, or retail, banking world but its place as the foundation of our financial lives makes us forget about it... those that can get an account that is.
Though the number excluded from this most fundamental of financial tools has dropped from a staggering 25% of low-income households in the 1990s, today around 5% still don't have access to a bank account.
If you're lucky enough not to be one of them, the chances are you've never moved yours in your adult life. Regardless of how impressed (or not) Brits are with the service, fees or rates on offer by our bank or building society, we just don't do it.
If it even occurs to us to shift our business, we fear lost direct debits, failed transactions and a paperwork nightmare. And yet, 99% of current accounts were switched in 7 days or less last year.
But its an expensive habit. Complacent providers are safe in the knowledge that their customers won't vote with their feet. And that makes for uncompetitive products that offer precious little benefit in return for decades of unwavering loyalty.
So how can you go about securing the best current account for your everyday money needs? As with so much in life, it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Current accounts defined
A current account is the most straightforward financial product available to British customers. It is held with a bank or building society and allows the account holder to access their money with the minimum fuss.
Facilities include the ability to withdraw money at no notice, deposit money simply and easily in cash, cheque or electronically, and set up consistent ways to pay bills and costs via direct debits and standing orders.
Not having one can dramatically restrict your ability to access and use your money - even earn it in some cases.
Comparing current account deals
They may have long been a necessity in modern UK life, but in 2018, having the best current account can be the difference between punitive charges and some lucrative gains, particularly when it comes to rewards for switching.
The Bank of England's base rate may have risen slightly from its historic lows finally this year, but nobody appears to have told the personal finance industry that.
You'll still struggle for a decent interest rate on your in-credit balance.
Cashback current accounts
That means the best way to earn cash on your current account is through switching.
The best deal for current account switchers is HSBC's Advance Current Account, offering £150 and a 6 month interest and fee free overdraft. There's another £50 up for grabs after 12 months when you register for mobile or online banking within 60 days.
You'll have to switch with two direct debits or standing orders to prove your commitment and deposit £1750 or more a month.
If that sounds like too many hoops to jump through there's always NatWest's Reward Account with its £125 cashback offer if you switch by 3rd December. There's also 2% cashback on household bills if they're paid by direct debit.
Receive a further payment of £50 after 12 months when you register for Mobile or Online Banking within 60 days of account opening.
Meanwhile, First Direct has gone down a slightly different route by offering switchers with at least £1,000 a month its 1st Account 'gift' worth 'up to £150' ranging from Fitbits to Amazon Echos and Polaroid cameras, even online courses.
Though if its cold hard cash your after, you could always open First Direct's regular savings account paying 5% AER.
Elsewhere, the best interest paying current account is the Nationwide FlexDirect account, which is the much talked about 5% interest rate for 1 year, on balances between £1 and £2500. After 12 months the interest rates drops to 1%.
Whoever you bank with, be sure your money is protected by checking the provider is part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
All figures correct on 13/11/2018.