However, if you're bankrupt or have a poor credit rating, you may be able to open a basic bank account. For more information about bankruptcy in England and Wales, see Bankruptcy. For more information about bankruptcy in Scotland, see Help with debt. A bank or building society can refuse to open an account for you.
They don't have to give you a reason, and there's usually nothing you can do about it.
Which accounts can receive benefit payments?
A bank or building society isn't allowed to open an account for someone who needs leave under the Immigration Rules to enter or stay in the UK but who doesn't have it, for example, someone who has entered the UK illegally or who has 'overstayed' after their visa has run out. If you are in this category you also can't be added to someone else's account as a joint account holder or be a signatory or beneficiary in relation to any account.
Your bank or building society will carry out status checks to ensure that you don't come into this category. There is more information about what you should do if your bank or building society refuses to open an account for you for this reason on the GOV. UK website at www. However a bank or building society isn't allowed to discriminate against you, for example, because of your race, sex, disability, religion or sexuality. If you are discriminated against, you may be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Also, you may be able to take a case to court. However, there are some circumstances when a bank or building society can discriminate against you, for example, they may not let you open some types of account unless you fall into a certain age-group.
For more information about discrimination, see our discrimination pages. If you think you've been discriminated against by a bank or building society, you should get help from an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. When you open an account with a bank or building society and use their services, you are entering into a contract with them.
The terms of the contract will change according to the bank or building society and the type of account or other service you use. Before you open an account, you should be given information which will help you choose the account that suits you. The information should include the terms and conditions and the interest rates.
After you've opened an account, your bank or building society should keep you informed about changes to this information, so that you can make decisions on how to best use your account. If you're opening a current, basic or instant access savings account, you should also be given additional information such as:. The information should be given to you in a way which is easy for you to understand. Once you've opened your account, the bank or building society should tell you about any changes to terms and conditions at least two months before the changes are made.
If there are changes to the terms and conditions of your account, you can close the account at any time up to 60 days from the day you were told about the changes. You don't have to give notice or pay any extra charges.
If you're opening a savings account other than an instant savings account, you will be given less detailed information than for other types of account. It may be provided in a summary box which will help you compare different accounts from different banks and building societies. You should open a new account before closing your old one and make sure you cancel any current standing orders or direct debits, or move these to your new account.
Be sure to return any unused cheques or plastic cards cut into pieces to your old bank or building society. If you are transferring a balance to your new account, make sure you have left enough money in the old account to cover any uncleared cheques. If you owe the existing bank or building society any money and you wish to close the account, you may still be sued for the money you owe if you don't pay it when you close the account. The level of service you should expect from your old bank or building society will depend on whether there is an arrangement in place between your old bank and the new one.
Where there is no arrangement, your bank or building society only has to provide a prompt and efficient service to help you close your account and it must return any money due to you. This includes any interest.
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Where there is an arrangement in place, your bank or building society must transfer any account balance and make arrangements in respect of direct debits and standing orders. If there are mistakes or delays in the transfer process which lead to bank charges, you shouldn't have to pay for them. For more information about banks and building societies and the services they offer, see Banks and building societies.
The Money Advice Service is a free, independent service. Their website has lots of useful information about financial products such as bank accounts, including comparison tables for different savings accounts.
Their Money Advice Line can answer general enquiries about financial products and services. Their website is www. They aren't able to get involved in individual complaints, recommend firms or give legal or financial advice. However, the FCA is interested in hearing about cases where a bank or building society appears to be in breach of its obligations. The FCA may, where appropriate, fine the bank or building society. If you've gone through your bank or building society's complaints procedure and they haven't been able to help you, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
You must give your bank or building society at least eight weeks to sort the problem out, unless they send you a letter of deadlock before the eight weeks is up. This is a letter telling you there is nothing more they can do to help you. You must complain to the Ombudsman within six months of getting the letter of deadlock, or from the end of the eight week period if you don't get a letter of deadlock. Make sure you keep a record of the date when you first made your complaint to the bank. Financial Ombudsman Service Exchange Tower London E14 9SR Consumer helpline: free for people phoning from a landline or free for mobile-phone users who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 or 02 Monday to Friday from 8.
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