Basic bank accounts with no credit check
You could apply for a basic bank account if you cannot pass a credit check. For example, because of current or previous debts or because you do not have a credit history in the UK.
Basic bank accounts are offered by most high street banks and some building societies.
You often have to pass a credit check to get a standard bank account.
What can you do with a basic bank account?
With most basic bank accounts you can:
get wages or benefits paid into your account
pay bills through direct debit or standing order
use a debit card in shops, online and at cash machines
Some basic bank accounts give you a cash card but do not let you set up direct debits.
Most basic bank account services are free. There are fees for some cashpoints or using your card abroad.
You cannot have an overdraft with a basic bank account.
Local branches and online banking
You can usually go into a local branch and speak to someone. Most banks also offer some banking services through local post offices.
You could also use telephone, online or mobile banking if you prefer this.
Who can get a basic bank account?
Many banks only offer basic accounts to people who cannot get a standard bank account.
You can go into a local branch and ask the staff about their basic bank account if you find it hard to apply online or you prefer to deal with people face to face.
You might be asked to apply for a standard bank account first.
Is there a credit check?
You do not need to pass a credit check to get a basic bank account.
You need to give permission for a 'soft search' of your credit file. This is to check your identity and does not affect your credit score.
Can you open a basic bank account if you're from abroad?
Most people living in the UK can open a bank account.
You might need to apply for a basic bank account if you have arrived recently or do not have a credit history here.
The bank will probably ask to see your passport or other documents to check your identity.
The Refugee Council has a Banking guide for people recently granted refugee status. It is available in English, Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Pashto and Tigrinya.
Save the Student website has information on bank accounts for international students.
Can you be refused a basic bank account?
You can be refused a basic bank account if:
you do not pass an identity check or immigration check
the bank suspects you of fraud or financial crime
The bank should give you a reason in writing unless they suspect fraud or financial crime.
Ask the bank what ID they can accept.
Registering to vote or updating your address on the electoral register could help you pass an identity check.
You can register to vote if you're a British, Irish or EU citizen living in the UK. Some Commonwealth citizens can also register.
Banks are not allowed to open accounts for some people because of immigration law. The bank can check a Home Office list to see if you're affected.
You need to talk to a specialist immigration adviser if you do not have leave to remain in the UK. For example, if you overstay your visa or do not have documents that show your status.
Unfair treatment or discrimination
The bank should explain why you are being asked for extra documents or information.
The bank must treat all customers fairly and follow Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance on vulnerable customers.
The bank must not discriminate based on your race, ethnicity, nationality, place of birth, accent or English language skills.
Which banks offer basic bank accounts?
Basic bank accounts are not always advertised in the branch.
Many banks ask you to apply for a standard current account first. They only assess you for a basic bank account if you cannot get a current account.
You can find some information from the main high street banks on their websites:
Last updated: 21 December 2022