What is a Basic Bank Account?

What is a Basic Bank Account

A no-frills basic bank account is available from most of the major UK banks. The leading building societies typically offer similar alternative free current accounts. These products are designed primarily for people with a poor credit history or simply those on a low income. Bankruptcy, CCJs and even defaults can make it difficult for anyone to qualify for a standard banking product. When a credit check is made and they decline you, this is when the no-frills offering may be offered. They aren’t widely advertised since they are free accounts and so the setup fees and running costs are covered on the other side. This is possible through cross-subsidy.

In essence, this means that they use the money generated from their tier of customers that use overdrafts or even loans. If you are applying directly for a basic bank account then no credit scoring is used. A small search will be made for verification though. Most generally run a search for CIFAS (fraud prevention). A flag here would almost certainly trigger a decline. Whilst there was a time when UK residency would be an essential requirement, the European Commission have passed a law that hands all European residents with the right to open a basic bank account in any EU country. This ruling isn’t set until September 2016 though.

There are a few alternatives that you could look towards. The most common option would be a prepaid card and then there are credit union current accounts. I would advise that the banking choice is the best option to proceed with. The qualifying age here would typically be 16 or 18. Identification will have to be issued to comply with money-laundering regulations (such as your passport and a recent Council Tax bill). Once approved, you should soon receive a debit card and you should be able to pay direct debits and standing orders. Account management would be offered online, but what you can do at a local branch is usually restricted.

This is of course a stripped down service and so there will be no overdraft facility or no interest paid on your balances. It is still possible to run up fees for unpaid transactions and so it will be important to manage your finances well. Some may offer a small buffer that adds some level of protection. It is worth pointing out that you can always climb the ladder to receive upgraded accounts. I have personally done this myself and it didn’t take too long before this occurred. It only makes sense that they’ll eventually want to make some money from you through borrowing. More info on overdrafts can be Found Here.