Best Current Accounts: Our Top Picks In 2020

We review our top 5 picks for current accounts in November 2020.

More than 5.1 million UK bank and building society customers have switched their bank accounts using the free (and guaranteed) current account switching service which simplifies the process for customers.

They’re choosing accounts which are better suited to their spending and saving patterns, and offer them rewards that they will really make use of.

With latest developments in mobile app banking there are some exciting new breed of banking current account to choose from:

We have outlined 5 accounts you might want to consider;

Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account 

Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account

Earn 2% interest for the first 12 months – Conditions apply

 

  • Earn 2.0% AER Fixed (1.98% gross pa) interest on balances up to £1,500 for the first 12 months
  • A minimum arranged overdraft of £1,000 with no monthly fees
  • No monthly fees
  • Need to pay in £1,000 pm
  • Fully FSCS protected up to £85,000
  • Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay
  • Mobile app

Our view: With the Nationwide FlexDirect  bank account you get everything you need for everyday banking including a interest free arranged overdraft for 12 months (subject to your circumstances). You get in-credit interest of 2% AER (1.98% gross pa) which is very attractive in the current low interest environment we are in.

More info on Nationwide »

Santander 123 Current Account

 

Santander 123 Current Account

Earn 1% interest for the first 12 months

 

  • 1.00% AER (variable) payable on your entire balance up to £20,000
  • Up to 3% cashback on household bills
  • Must pay a minimum of £500 into the account each month
  • Monthly fee of £5
  • Fully FSCS protected up to £85,000
  • Mobile app

Our view: With this current account you get 1.00% AER on the first £20,000 of your cash. From 3rd August this will change to 0.60% AER.  To qualify you will need to pay in £500 pm (Equates to a £6,000 pa salary) . Additionally you can gain up to 3% cashback on household bills – 1% on water, council tax bills and Santander mortgage payments, 2% on gas and electricity bills, and 3% on mobile phone, home phone, broadband and paid-for TV packages.  Earn up to 15% discount on retailer offers. The account has full savings FSCS protection.

Santander 123 Account »

Starling Bank Mobile App Account

Winner “Best British Bank 2020” British Bank Awards

 

  • No minimum monthly pay in
  • No monthly fees
  • Great for overseas use
  • Spending insights – see where your money is going
  • Goals – set money aside for specific goals
  • Earn 0.05% AER interest paid on account balances below £85,000
  • Round up transactions – put the difference into your savings pots
  • Fully FSCS protected up to £85,000
  • Winner 2018,2019 and 2020 Banking Awards

More info on Starling Bank »

Our view: With Starling you get a mobile app bank account that has a “Excellent rating from its customers from Trustpilot. Voted “Best British Bank” in the British Bank Awards in 2018,2019 and 2020 you get an app which provides customers with real time data on spending and great features that allow you to set savings goals.

Virgin Money Account

  • Savings “pots” feature
  • Competitive 0.50% AER interest rate for savings account (interest paid quarterly)
  • Very attractive 2.02% AER interest rate for current account up to £1,000 (interest paid monthly)
  • No fee for maintaining account
  • Money withdrawal via Virgin Money Current Account
  • Fully protected up  by FSCS to £85,000
  • Open in minutes!

Our view: With this current account you get a great interest rate of 2.02% AER on money kept in your current account up to £1,000 with interest paid monthly. With no monthly fees and no charges on using your card abroad this account offers customers a great user experience with their mobile app which allows you to track your transactions and make better budgeting decisions with “Savings pots” allowing you to transfer money into different pots for different goals.

More info on Virgin Money »

Bunq

  • Premium account – €7.99pm
  • Voice contolled app
  • Earn 0.27% interest rate for money put away for savings
  • Easy budgeting – set up sub accounts with individual IBAN nos
  • Auto save feature – Round up payments and pay the difference into set sub-accounts
  • Spending insights
  • You can block cards at any time – change pins at any time
  • Free global ATM withdrawals
  • Apple and Google Pay supported
  • Mastercard included in premium subscription
  • Fully protected by the Netherlands deposit guarantee scheme (DGS) up to €100,000

More info on Bunq Money »

Our view: If you are looking for an international bank account that is a break from the status quo then take a further look. Bunqs principles are based on transparency, freedom and continuous improvement in making your life easier.

Best Current Accounts – What To Look For

Standard current accounts

A current account offers a secure, instant access account for everyday finances, e.g. salary and benefit payments and payment of household bills.

A current account holder can expect access to their bank or building society’s branch and cash machine network for withdrawing cash; to their banking app; and to and online and telephone banking services. An account holder can also expect to receive a debit card and chequebook, and to receive regular statements.

These core services should be available free of charge.

An overdraft facility will be available subject to eligibility.

Basic bank accounts

These are usually offered to people with an impaired or limited credit history.

They typically offer a service for everyday management of finances and ingoing and outgoing payments, similar to that offered with a standard current account, but overdrafts will not be available.

Interest

At times of very low base rates, some current accounts do not pay interest. In these circumstances, you might consider transferring to a provider that offers current account interest, although here an attractive interest rate (say 1.5%) may only be paid on the first £1,500 or so, with a very low rate applying to the remaining balance. These attractive interest rates, which may be higher than those on some savings accounts, may also end after an introductory period of 12 months or so.

Also consider that the provider may only pay the enhanced rate if a minimum monthly level of payment is made to the account every month and may even require that your salary is paid into the account. Overdraft terms may also be less attractive in higher interest accounts.

Charges

It is widely believed that the standard personal current account service is free, but this is only the case if you stay in credit. Overdraft fees can also be high, sometimes higher than those on credit cards, so it can pay to find the best terms on overdrafts. It is likely that there will be some providers offering interest-free overdrafts for a period of time, such as 12 months, or up to a certain amount, such as £250.

Methods of banking

How do you want to do your banking? Are you happy using the app, or the website, or the phone? If you are, then you probably aren’t too worried about where the bank’s branches are located. If you still want to bank in person, you probably need to pick a bank that has branch close to your home or workplace. If that branch closes down, as many have in recent years, you might need to switch.

Cashback accounts

Some accounts offer rewards if a certain amount is paid into the account or if a certain number of debits are paid out.

These accounts may have a monthly fee, so you will need to calculate whether the rewards you are likely to receive will outweigh the fees you will be paying.

Packaged current accounts

A number of banks are now prominently advertising so-called packaged accounts, in which a current account is the core product, but in return for payment of a fixed amount each month, you receive a number of additional benefits, usually including several insurance products.

The most common types of insurance offered here are breakdown, identity theft, travel and mobile phone insurance. Other incentives may include interest-free overdrafts, and preferential rates on savings accounts or credit cards. Some packaged accounts include non-financial products as part of the offering, such as free video rentals or music downloads; or discounts on eating out and live entertainment.

Banks typically offer several different levels of packaged account, and by paying a larger monthly subscription, you receive additional benefits. The bank may restrict some of the options with the highest subscriptions to customers with a high income, or with a high level of savings with the same bank.

Packaged accounts may require you to activate the insurance elements of the package. Check carefully to see whether you need to do this.

Certainly, with some packaged accounts the range of additional benefits provided is substantial. An example of when these accounts may be of particular benefit is that of a customer who finds it difficult to obtain affordable travel insurance via traditional methods.

But before taking out a packaged account, you certainly need to carefully consider whether it is right for you. Certain benefits of the package may be very attractive, but you must consider the overall package. The bank may offer several different levels of packaged account, but within each level you cannot pick and choose which product features you take – you pay for them all whether you need them or not. Consider whether you need all of the included insurances, or whether you would be eligible to claim on them all, or whether you are already paying for some of the insurances elsewhere. And remember that a wide range of standard bank accounts with no subscription fees still exist.

Switching Your Current Account

Almost all banks and building societies participate in the Current Account Switch Service. If you decide to switch bank, the process takes just seven working days to complete and whoever you have chosen as your new bank should take care of everything – their switching service should mean that all of your incoming and outgoing payments are automatically transferred to the new account.

The Switch Service is backed by a guarantee that means you will receive a refund of any interest and charges if anything goes wrong.

Banks often offer incentives to switch, such as cash payments or gift vouchers. See our What stops you switching your current account to read more.

Savings accounts

If you expect to have surplus income each month, then you might want to have a savings account in addition to a current account. There is no obligation to have your savings account with the same bank, but sometimes a bank will offer enhance interest rates on a savings account if the account holder also has a current account with them. It is also very easy to set up a regular direct debit payment between the current account and the savings account.

These features and services were accurate July 2020. But banks are very aware of customer demands: features may change or be extended.



Written by Editorial Team ,
12th November 2020