Best Basic Bank Accounts

Basic bank accounts - who are they for and which ones are best?

Updated: May 18, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rachel Wait

Edited By

Rachel Wait

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If your application for a regular bank account has been turned down, you might find it easier to get accepted for a basic bank account.

Basic bank accounts can be a great choice for someone who has never had a bank account, or doesn't have much of a credit history. They are also easy to open and can be active in a matter of minutes.

But where do you even start looking for basic bank accounts? There are plenty of options to choose from. You just need to decide if you'd prefer to choose a bank with a local branch you can pop into, or if you'd prefer to carry out all your banking transactions online or via a mobile banking app.

I've sorted through the market to find you the best basic bank account options, as well as some tips to help you make a final decision.

ProviderScoreDetails
1. Suits Me★★★★★Click Here
2. Revolut★★★★★Click Here
3. Santander★★★★★Click Here
4. Monese★★★★Click Here
5. The Co-operative Bank★★★★Click Here
6. Nationwide★★★★Click Here
7. Virgin Money★★★★Click Here
8. HSBC★★★★★Click Here
9. Halifax★★★★★Click Here
10. Metro Bank★★★★★Click Here

What Is a Basic Bank Account?

Basic bank accounts are straightforward bank accounts that don't offer many features or benefits, but enable you to receive payments, such as your salary, and set up direct debits to pay bills. You will also be able to withdraw cash with your bank card and transfer funds to other people.

Basic bank accounts don't usually offer an overdraft so there's no worry about getting into debt. You might need to undergo a credit check, but this is usually to confirm your identity so you won't need to pass the check to be accepted.

For this reason, they can be a good choice if you're struggling to get accepted for a standard bank account due to poor credit.

Who Should Have a Basic Bank Account? 

Anyone can choose to open a basic bank account. You don’t have to fall into a specific category.

However, some banks might specify that you can only open one if you haven't had any luck opening any of the other accounts the bank offers.

This means they can be particularly beneficial if you have had credit problems in the past, or you simply don't have much of a credit history due to not borrowing before or having a bank account.

Best Basic Bank Accounts in the UK

We’ve sorted through a variety of options and banks that offer basic bank accounts.

Compare each account carefully to consider which one might work best for you.

Account NameMonthly FeeMin AgeUK ATM WithdrawalsAccess
1. Suits Me Essential AccountFree18£1.00Online/App
2. Revolut Standard AccountFree18Withdraw up to £200 or 5 withdrawals per rolling month.App
3. Santander Basic Current AccountFree16FreeOnline/App
4. Monese Simple AccountFree182%App
5. Cashminder Co-op Basic Bank AccountFree16FreeOnline/App
6. Nationwide FlexBasic Current AccountFree18FreeOnline/App
7. Virgin Money M AccountFree16FreeOnline/App
8. HSBC Basic Bank AccountFree16FreeOnline/App
9. Halifax Basic AccountFree18FreeOnline/App
10. Metro Bank Cash AccountFree11FreeOnline/App

1. Suits Me Essential Account (Best Overall Bank in 2024)

The Essential account from Suits Me requires no minimum deposit and no credit checks. You can open your account online in a matter of minutes.

The account includes the option to set up direct debits to pay bills and you can use your debit card to withdraw cash and make payments online and instore. You'll also earn cashback when you use your card at selected retailers.

Note that as this is a pay-as-you-go account, a fee applies to ATM withdrawals and electronic payments paid into your account. The account can be managed via the app, but you can also pay cash into your account at any PayPoint store (a fee applies).

Pros

✔️ Create an account in minutes

✔️ Earn cashback on your spending

✔️ No credit check involved

Cons

❌️ Fees apply to certain transactions

❌️ Must manage your account online or in-app

2. Revolut Standard Account

Revolut‘s Standard plan has no monthly fee and comes with its own debit card. Low costs, streamlined technology, flexibility, and additional features like its crypto and share trading sections inside the app are how it differentiates itself from more conventional banking services.

The Standard plan permits fee-free ATM withdrawals of up to £200 a month (or five withdrawals). You can also send and receive money in more than 29 currencies, with no fees applying if you stick to the limit of £1,000 a month Monday to Friday.

The account must be managed via the app.

Pros

✔️ Exchange money in multiple currencies

✔️ Easy application process

✔️ No monthly fee

✔️ App for managing numerous accounts and visualising your spending patterns

Cons

❌️ Adds 0.5% to major currencies, 1% to minor currencies during weekend closures

❌️ Monthly fee-free cash withdrawal limit is £200

❌️ No overdrafts or credit cards available

3. Santander Basic Current Account

You only need to be aged 16 or over to open this account from Santander.

It's a straightforward account that lets you have your salary paid into it and you can set up direct debits and standing orders to pay household bills and other payments.

The account comes with a non-contactless debit card, but this has restrictions on some transactions, such as subscription services and pay at the pump petrol stations. You'll be able to earn cashback when you shop online at a range of retailers.

You can manage the account online, via the app, in branch or over the phone. There's no overdraft available with the account.

Pros

✔️ No fees for account use

✔️ No overdraft

✔️ Cashback offers

✔️ Physical branches or online/mobile access

Cons

❌️ Debit card can't be used for certain transactions

4. Monese Simple Account

It's easy to open Simple account with Monese. No credit checks are required and you don't need proof of address either.

What's more, you can use the card that comes with the account all over the world, however card spending in foreign currencies is 2% per transaction and ATM withdrawals are 2% per withdrawal. Account is in GBP, EUR and/or RON.

As well as using your card to make contactless payments, you can also pay with your smartphone through Apple Pay and Google Pay and you can link your card to your PayPal account with ease.

Pros

✔️ You can set up direct debits and standing orders

✔️ Quick to apply (no credit check required)

✔️ Easy-to-use app

✔️ Joint Accounts with another Monese user

Cons

❌️ No priority customer support access

❌️ ATM withdrawals 2% and cash top-ups fees 3.5%

5. Cashminder Co-op Basic Bank Account

The Cashminder bank account at Co-op Bank is another top choice. The Co-op has physical branches and you can also bank online.

You can open this type of account if you're at least 16 years old and it could suit you if you have no credit history or a low credit score, as there's no credit check involved.

There are no fees for withdrawing cash on your card, but if you use your card overseas, you will have to pay a 2.75% foreign exchange fee. You can also open the account as a joint account and there is no monthly fee. There is no overdraft either.

Pros

✔️ Easy to apply for

✔️ Mobile app, online banking, or physical branches

✔️ No ATM fees

Cons

❌️ 2.75% foreign transaction fee

6. Nationwide FlexBasic Current Account

Nationwide‘s FlexBasic current account has no monthly fee and you can manage the account online, via the app, in branch or over the phone.

As with most basic accounts, there is no overdraft and no chequebook available.

The FlexBasic current account could suit you if you don't qualify for a standard bank account with Nationwide. To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old and a UK resident.

Pros

✔️ Free account to open and use

✔️ Mobile access or physical branch access

Cons

❌️ Must be 18 or older to open

❌️ Foreign transaction fees apply

7. Virgin Money M Account

Virgin Money‘s M account is its basic account and could suit you if you're aged 16 or over and don't qualify for one of its standard accounts.

The mobile app offers a suite of tools designed to help you learn more about managing personal finances. This includes budgeting tools, cashback offers, and more. 

You can open the account with little to no credit history, and you can have your salary paid into your account, as well as set up direct debits and standing orders. The account comes with a contactless debit card and there are no fees when you use your card in the UK or abroad.

The account is also linked to a savings account to help you build up a savings cushion.

Pros

✔️ App with a range of budgeting features

✔️ Linked savings account

✔️ No charges for spending abroad

Cons

❌️ Fees apply to certain payment types

8. HSBC Basic Bank Account

The HSBC basic bank account can be opened and managed from your mobile app, although you will be able to pop into your local branch too. You can only open this account if you don't qualify for another HSBC current account, perhaps due to poor credit.

The account comes with a contactless debit card for payments and cash withdrawals. The basic bank account doesn't come with an overdraft or chequebook.

The HSBC app is intuitive and user-friendly. It offers a number of smart tools to help you budget and get to know your finances better.

Pros

✔️ Manage account online, in-app, over the phone or in branch

✔️ Intuitive app with money management tools

✔️ Simple-to-use account

Cons

❌️ Must first apply for alternative accounts

9. Halifax Basic Account

The Halifax Basic account is available if you don't meet the conditions for its other accounts. It offers free everyday banking and comes with a contactless debit card.

As well as charging no monthly fee, there are also no fees for accidently going overdrawn. What's more, if you use your card in the EEA, there will be no fees as long as you spend on your card or withdraw cash in euros. You will also be able to earn cashback at selected retailers when you spend on your card.

On top of this, you can sign up to Save the Change, which means all your spending will be rounded up to the nearest pound and the change will be transferred to your Halifax savings account (provided you have one).

Pros

✔️ Round up savings tool

✔️ Cashback on spending

✔️ Intuitive mobile app

✔️ No fees for any transaction in Euros in the EEA

Cons

❌️ Fees apply to certain transactions

10. Metro Bank Cash Account

The Metro Bank cash account is a great option not only for those with bad credit, but also for young people opening their first accounts. You can bank in branch or online.

The account can be opened from as young as 11, although 11 to 15 year olds must open the account in branch with a parent or guardian.

You'll receive a bank card with the account, but you won't be able to use it outside the UK (except where the Link logo is displayed on a cash machine). You can also only pay for purchases online in GBP and you won't be able to set up direct debits on this account.

Pros

✔️ Available to age 11 and older

✔️ No fees for account usage

✔️ No credit check

Cons

❌️ Can't use card outside the UK

❌️ No option to set up direct debits

Tips to Choose a Basic Bank Account

Picking out a bank account can be overwhelming.

There are a lot of different factors to consider and you need to be sure it's the right account for you. It's worth keeping the following points in mind to help you:

Available Features

One of the top things you might want to consider is what features will be available to you. Are you looking for specific features with your basic bank account?

Some accounts might let you earn cashback, for example, while others will offer fee-free spending abroad. Then, there are providers that also give you budgeting tools and linked savings accounts.

With basic bank accounts, you won’t get a lot of extra bells and whistles. That’s really not the primary focus of these accounts. But if there is a specific feature you’re hoping for, you might want to look around and see if it's available.

Fees

In most cases, the fees that you are charged for basic accounts are minimal. You won't usually be charged a monthly fee and most transactions should be fee-free too – though this won't always apply to overseas transactions.

Alternatives to Basic Bank Accounts

If you're not sure if a basic bank account is right for you, another option to consider is a prepaid card. These won't require a credit check and can be quick and easy to set up.

You simply load the card with funds and you'll then only be able to spend what's on the card. You can use your card online or instore, as well as for cash withdrawals. Some prepaid cards also let you set up direct debits, but there is no overdraft facility.

Keep in mind that prepaid cards often charge monthly fees and there might be transaction charges too.

Final Thoughts

A low credit score or lack of credit history shouldn't mean you can't open a bank account.

Basic bank accounts offer a great way to help you manage your finances and even start building a credit history. These bank accounts are designed to be simple and won't usually charge many fees.

Make sure you compare these accounts carefully to find one that best matches your banking needs.

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