Choosing the right account

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There are three main types of bank account. The right one for you will depend on your circumstances and what you want to use it for.

Basic bank accounts

Basic bank accounts are simple accounts that allow you to pay in and withdraw money, and set up direct debits to pay bills. They don’t usually have overdraft facilities. This sort of account might suit you if your finances are very straightforward, if you haven’t had a bank account before or if you have a bad credit rating.

Current accounts

Current accounts have more features than basic bank accounts, such as debit cards, cheque books and overdraft facilities. Some pay interest, but usually at a lower rate than a savings account.

Savings (or deposit) accounts

Savings (or deposit) accounts offer interest on your money but may restrict your access to it. You may have to give notice to withdraw your money without incurring a penalty.

A convenient way of getting cash is an important factor when it comes to choosing between accounts. Think about the following.

  • Is there a branch near where you live? Does your account include branch service (some accounts are online only)?
  • Can you access your account at Post Office branches? All basic bank accounts and many current accounts allow this. 
  • How many cash machines are there in your area, and can you use them free of charge?

If you’ve mislaid the details of a bank or building society account, there are account-tracing schemes that can help you locate your money. See the section Tracing lost money for more details

Frank‚ 66‚ changed his bank two years ago…

‘I had been with the same bank for most of my adult life. In the past I had never really thought about moving from one to another – I had always kept my savings in the same building society too.

‘A while back I started to look at whether I was getting a good deal. I wasn’t paying any charges for my current account but I wasn’t getting any interest to speak of on the balance either. I switched to another account that paid a better rate of interest. It wasn’t too difficult and the bank helped me change the account over. The rate is lower now than when I opened the account but it all helps.

‘I find I quite enjoy looking out for the best rates and moving my savings about. It’s become a bit of a hobby. Since the credit crunch started I’ve investigated what protection there is for savings. Not that I have more than £50‚000 in one bank – if only!’

Free Advice Service

If you, or an older person you know needs advice, information or practical support on a wide range of issues including welfare benefits, community care, housing and health, contact the Age NI Advice Service on Freephone 0808 808 7575 to speak to a specialist advisor in confidence.

Last year our Advice Service dealt with almost 14,000 calls from older people in need. Call the Age NI Advice Service today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

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