How to open a bank account if you're homeless

Apply for a basic bank account

Banks offer a range of accounts and you should choose one that's right for you.

With a basic bank account, the bank will check your identity but not your credit history.

You can apply for a basic bank account with:

  • most high street banks

  • some building societies

You cannot open a bank account at the Post Office but some banks let you manage your account at a post office branch.

Banks that offer basic accounts

Most banks offer a fee-free basic bank account but they are not always well advertised.

Many banks and building societies 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 about basic bank accounts from the main high street banks on their websites:

Money Helper has a tool to compare fee-free basic bank accounts.

How to get a basic bank account

Most banks let you choose to apply in person or online.

Most banks have a branch locator on their website where you can find the nearest place and check their opening hours.

You can usually manage your account online even if you apply in person.

Go to the bank in person

Banks usually accept a wider range of ID documents and proof of address if you do this.

Take someone with you if you can.

You could print off or show the bank staff the webpage which gives information on:

  • the basic bank account you want to apply for

  • the ID and proof of address the bank says it accepts

This can help if the bank offers you a different account or will not accept your documents.

What you can do with a basic bank account

With most basic bank accounts you can:

  • have wages or benefits paid into your account

  • pay bills through direct debit or standing order

  • get a debit card to use in shops, online and at cash machines

  • use online or mobile banking or go into a branch to speak to someone

Some basic bank accounts give you a cash card but do not let you set up direct debits.

You cannot have an overdraft with a basic bank account.

Banks that offer fee-free basic bank accounts must take steps to stop you from becoming overdrawn if you have this type of account.

Things that might cost you money or cause problems

Most basic bank account services are free. You might be charged for using certain cashpoints, foreign currencies and sending or receiving money outside the UK.

Ask someone at the bank:

  • Does the account have any fees or charges?

  • Can the account go overdrawn?

  • When might you freeze the account?

Each bank account will have different terms and conditions. Read these carefully or ask someone at the bank about them.

You could get help with this from a friend, family member or support worker.

Try somewhere else if you're struggling

You could find a different bank with a website or phone service that is easier to use.

You might have to complete extra steps to show who you are when you apply online.

Find a local charity to help

Some banks have schemes for people with no fixed address.

Banks offering this type of account ask a local homeless charity or other organisation to confirm your identity.

A local Shelter service could help if you already get advice or support from them.

Our national helpline and webchat cannot help with this as they do not meet you in person.

Last updated: 19 April 2023

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