Once you are old enough, having access to a bank account can be an important step towards independence. Having a bank account means you can save and access your own money, pay bills and take responsibility for your adult life. Think carefully and talk to their family, friends and carers about whether having a bank account would be right for you, and whether it would help you.
The most important thing to have before you have a bank account, is some money! Do you have money you can pay into an account? It does not need to be a lot, but it is good to start with some money in your account.
It is also helpful to think about:
- How much money you need to have in an account so you know what kind of account to choose
- How often you want to pay money in or take money out are important things to think about before you open an account
You can talk to your chosen bank about your options at any point, but it is good to have an idea of what you need.
Every bank has a different 'brand' - something different that they offer to customers in the way they work and support you. Many also have different 'offers' for new customers, like cash back, rail cards or better interest rates, which means the rate at which your bank pays you to save money with them, or charges you to take a loan out with them.
- What you need from a bank? Interest rate, disability support, help setting up an online account etc. Lots of banks offer support in these areas but not all banks offer everything. Knowing what is important to you is a good place to start.
- Which banks have branches in your community? Is it important that you could walk to a bank or could you get a bus? If you want to use the internet to do your banking this is less important than if you would like to be able to talk to someone face to face.
- How do you want to communicate with your bank and who offers you this option? In person, online, using your mobile etc.
Depending on your circumstances, there may be different kinds of accounts available to you. For example:
- A current account, which you mainly use to pay in money and pay bills / buy things with
- A savings account, where you might have less frequent access to your money, but your bank might pay you a higher interest rate, which is the amount of money you are paid for saving with them. Usually a small single figure percentage (1-4%) of the money you keep in your bank account
- A student account, where you might be a little more restricted about how and where you can use your money or your bank card, but which might come with helpful supports like an interest free overdraft
- An Individual Savings Account (ISA), where you will have least access to your money but can earn a much higher interest rate
A bank account comes with responsibility. Think carefully and talk to your family, friends and carers about whether having a bank account would be right for you, and whether it would help you.
Most bank accounts are now quite standard and banks have to follow strict rules and regulations. However, it is important that you are comfortable that you understand:
- What kind of account you are opening
- What you can and cannot do with your account
- Whether any restrictions or limitations apply and how long they might apply for
- How your bank will communicate with you about your account
- Whether there are any fees or charges associate with your account
Your bank should always be able to answer these questions and explain them to you clearly and simply. Do not worry about asking too many questions, or asking simple questions. The most important thing is that you are happy and comfortable.
Consider talking to your friends, family or carer about your decisions so they understand the choices you have made and can support you if you need it.
A face to face conversation can achieve a lot. If you are opening your first bank account, go into the branch and talk to a member of staff about it. Take a friend, family member or carer with you. Make sure you ask any questions you have and if you need additional support, for example with communication, make sure the person you speak to understands this. You could even take your one page profile with you.