How to manage your bank account

Here is how to use your current account to keep it running smoothly and to avoid being charged fees.
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How to check your balance

Keeping track of your account balance can help you avoid fees for going into your overdraft, plan for the rest of the month and look out for fraudulent transactions.

You can do this by:

  • Signing in to internet or mobile banking

  • Setting up text alerts to keep you informed of your balance

  • Checking your statement, which you can get by post or online

  • Asking in a branch

  • Phoning your bank

  • Checking it at a cash machine

Here is how to use internet banking, mobile banking and text alerts

How to use internet and mobile banking

Most banks let you run your account using their website or mobile app. This lets you:

  • Make a one off payment to a person or company

  • Check your balance

  • Move money between your own accounts

  • Set up, change or cancel direct debits and standing orders[

  • Report a missing card

  • Send a secure message to your bank

Here is everything you need to know about using online banking

How to make payments and spend money

You can spend, transfer or withdraw the money in your account in the following ways:

Set up direct debits and standing orders

These go out regularly; for example on the first day of every month or every three months. Here is how to set them up and how they work.

You can use them to make payments to:

  • A company

  • Another current or savings account in your name

  • Another person's account

Make sure there is enough money in your account to pay your standing orders and direct debits because you may be charged a fee if not.

Send a bank transfer to someone else

You can pay another person or a company by making a one off bank transfer.

Funds are usually sent as a faster payment, which is a type of bank transfer that usually takes less than two hours to arrive.

The easiest way to do this is usually by using internet or mobile banking, but you could also set it up:

  • By phone

  • By writing to your bank

  • In a branch

You need to provide your bank with:

  • The amount you want to send

  • The name of the company or person you want to pay

  • Their six digit sort code

  • Their account number, which is usually eight digits

  • The reference that goes with your payment

If you pay a company, they usually tell you what to use as the reference. If you pay a person, use your own name as the reference, or something else that lets them know what the payment is for.

You could also use a service called Paym to send money from your mobile phone to another person's bank account. Here is how to do this.

Transfer money between your accounts

If you want to send money to a current or savings account you hold with another bank or building society, the process is the same as transferring money to someone else.

However, if you have a savings account with the same bank, you may be able instantly move funds between your accounts. You could use internet or mobile banking, phone your bank or visit a branch.

Use your card

Most banks offer a debit card you can use to make purchases in the following ways:

  • In person in a shop, restaurant or other business

  • When shopping online

  • By phone

  • Using mail order

If you shop online, by phone or by mail order, you need to provide the 16 digit number and the expiry date on the front of your card.

You may also need the issue date and issue number from the front of the card, and the CCV, which is a three digit number on the signature strip on the back of the card.

If you pay in person, you can put your debit card into the card reader and then enter your PIN to confirm the transaction.

Many banks now also offer contactless and mobile phone payments to make smaller transactions quicker.

Here is how to use your debit card safely to keep your money and bank account secure.

Withdraw cash

You can use the debit card, prepaid card or cash card that comes with your account to take out cash from an ATM.

  • Insert your card into the cash machine

  • Enter your PIN

  • Check your balance if required

  • Choose how much cash you need

  • Remove your card and the cash from the machine

Most banks send your PIN by post when they issue your card. If you do not know your PIN, ask them to send you a new one. You can change it at any time at a cash machine or through internet banking.

Here is how to use your card safely at an ATM

Write a cheque

If you have a cheque book, you can still pay bills by cheque, although many shops do not accept them any more.

Here is how to write a cheque

How to use your overdraft

If your bank account has an overdraft, you can borrow money when your account has nothing left in it.

Overdrafts let you borrow for free if you have one with no interest and fees and you stay in its limit. However, they can be very expensive if you are charged for using them.

Here is everything you need to know about overdrafts

How to pay money into your account

Pay in cash

You can pay in cash by taking it into your nearest branch to use their counter, self service machine or an ATM that accepts cash deposits.

Your bank may need you to fill your details and the amount you are paying in on a form called a remittance slip before you hand over your cash. You need to put it in one of their envelopes if you pay it in using a machine.

The amount should then be added to your account immediately. Some banks also let you pay in cash at a Post Office if you do not have a branch near you.

Pay in a cheque

You can pay in a cheque by:

  • Taking it into your local branch

  • Posting it to your bank

  • Using special cash machines that offer self service banking

How to pay in a cheque and how long it takes to show on your account

Receive payments by bank transfer

A company or another person can send money to your bank account. You just need to let them know:

  • The name on your account

  • Your six digit sort code

  • Your account number

These details should all be on your statements and when you sign in to online banking.

You can also receive money into your account by just giving the other person your mobile number if they use a service called Paym. Here is how Paym works.

How to update your details

You need to let your bank know if your personal details change, including your:

  • Name

  • Address

  • Phone number or email

  • Marital status

Some banks let you update these through internet banking or by phone. Some need you to complete forms or provide identification or a marriage certificate, which can be easiest to sort in a branch or by post.

Ask your bank what they need from you to update their records.

How to close your account

You can close your bank account at any time, but you need to pay off your overdraft first if you owe money on it. You can ask your bank to close your account:

  • In a branch

  • Online through internet banking

  • By phone

  • By writing to them

If you already have another bank account, you can have your wages paid into it and move your direct debits and standing orders over.

Switch to a new account

If you want to close your bank account and get one with a new bank or building society, you can quickly switch in seven days.

Your account balance or overdraft will be moved to the new account along with future salary payments and any direct debits or standing orders.

Here is how to switch to a new bank account

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.