Best Current Accounts

If you’re looking to change your bank account, or even get one or two more in your name, then these current accounts are my latest top picks.

I’ve got 15 different current accounts right now. Yes, that’s far too many for most people, but trying them all out really helps me recommend to you the good from the bad.

You could just switch your existing account to get a better deal, or you could open a handful to take advantage of the different offers. Personally I’d look to have at least two accounts just in case of tech failures stopping you getting access to your cash.

But there are other reasons to look around, from improved banking experiences to rewards to cashback to interest on savings.

In this article I’ve shared my top picks of the best current accounts (click here for a full list of the latest offers).

You can watch my video round up of the top offers, or keep reading

Best bank account for bank switching

It’s possible to get money or freebies by changing your bank and completing a full switch. Here’s more on how bank switching works.

Winner: Virgin Money

It’s an easy win for Virgin Money as there are no serious contenders right now. With this promotion you’ll get £180 worth of free Virgin Wine when you open up a new account and switch over. Here’s my look at the account.

Runner up: First Direct

The only other bank switching promo right now is via First Direct. Unlike other offers you’ll only get the £100 cash if you leave the bank after six months but before a year.

Best bank account for day to day banking

Banking apps are improving all the time and the best have features such as freezing your card if it’s lost and features to help you save.

Winners: Monzo or Starling

These two digital banks are the ones I’d choose for everyday banking. Which one is best for you depends largely on personal preference.

If you want one to help with budgeting and saving, I’d look at Monzo. The features to help you track your expenditure and to separate money into “pots” are great innovations for managing your money. And connections such as IFTTT can help you boost your savings with little effort.

Starling on the other hand makes banking easier. Alongside similar budgeting features, uou can use it on both app and desktop, you can pay in cheques with your phone, you can deposit cash at Post Offices and more.

It’s probably a case of getting both accounts and trying them out to see which you prefer. Here’s my Monzo review, and here’s my Starling review.

Best bank account with an overdraft

If you use an overdraft you’re probably paying around 40% in interest – far more than it’d cost to borrow elsewhere. So they’re best avoided. But if you are overdrawn then it makes sense to reduce that cost ASAP.

Winner: Nationwide FlexDirect

The best account for a 0% overdraft is Nationwide’s Flex Direct. If you’ve not had the account before you can ask for an overdraft when you apply (you can check what you’d get beforehand), and if successful you’ll get the buffer for 12 months.

Here’s my review of the full account.

Runner up: First Direct or M&S

If you’ve had the Nationwide FlexDirect before then you can get a £250 0% buffer from First Direct or M&S Bank.

Best bank account with cashback

Winner: Santander 123 Lite

Only Santander will give you money back each month on your bills, but it’s best avoiding the full 123 account, and go instead for the 123 Lite version.

You’ll pay £2 a month but get up to 3% back on household bills such as Council Tax, energy and broadband. Here’s my comparison of the two Santander accounts.

Runner up: Natwest Rewards

You no longer get cashback on bills with Natwest, but you can get money back on selected retailers when using the debit card. Though other banks offer similar services (Barclays, Halifax, Llloyds), I’ve taken advantage of the Natwest offers more often.

Still, I wouldn’t say this is a reason to open an account with any of these banks. It’s more something to be aware of if you already have it.

Best bank accounts with rewards

Some accounts will pay you each month, either in cash to your account or with a freebie. You often have to pay a monthly fee and meet other criteria.

Winner: Halifax Rewards

It’s a tough call between this and the runner up. I’ve gone for Halifax as though it takes a little more effort you’ll get a better return.

You can get either £5 a month, 12 cinema tickets or 24 movie rentals as long as you jump through a few hoops. The main one to watch is spending at least £500 on a debit card each month. Here’s my full Halifax Rewards analysis.

Runner up: Club Lloyds

You’ll get less each month from Club Lloyds – either 6 cinema tickets or 12 movie rentals – but once you’ve set up standing orders you can just leave the account alone. Here’s my full Club Lloyds review.

Best bank account for savings

Current accounts often give you higher rates than elsewhere, though with limits. Here’s my look at the best savings accounts.

Winner: Virgin Money

The highest interest rate at the moment is from Virgin Money, giving you 2.02% on £1,000. It’s a variable rate so could change.

Runner up: Club Lloyds

As well as the monthly rewards mentioned above, Club Lloyds has an extra bonus if you have savings as you get access to a top-paying regular saver account. You can also earn in-credit interest at 0.6% up to £4,000 an 1.5% on the next grand.

Best ethical bank account

Winner: Nationwide FlexDirect

This account scores well on Ethical Consumer’s list of ethical current accounts. As it’s a building society, Nationwide is committed to putting the bulk of its lending towards mortgages so it can’t invest heavily in non-ethical practices. Even so it also has positive policies in place to avoid this.

Runner Up: Starling or Co-op

These banks also score well. Starling has the edge over it’s challenger bank rival Monzo, while Co-op is the top ranked from the other high-street banks.

Best challenger bank

Challenger or digital banks are new(ish) banks operated almost exclusively via your phone. But what you lose in high street access you more than make up for in extra features.

Winners: Starling & Monzo

Once more it’s hard to pick between Starling and Monzo – but they are streets ahead of other digital banks. In fact, the others such as Revolut and Monese aren’t true banks.

5 thoughts on “Best Current Accounts

  1. On the Halifax Rewards – does it count if you send yourself a payment request from Starling and then use your debit card from Halifax to essentially do a transfer?

    1. Hmm, nice idea… but I think it’d count as a money transfer to another account which is mentioned in the Ts&Cs as not eligible https://www.halifax.co.uk/bankaccounts/reward-extras/nmi-reward-account-changes.html

  2. Best ethical current account Nationwide? I researched very carefully when I wanted something more ethical and it was clear Triodos was easily the most ethical bank. It managed top spot in an Ethical Consumer review of current accounts. Nationwide is good, but was further down the list. The Co-operative Bank came even further down – it has issues with its owners who are hedge-funders and not ethical at all and it’s up for sale, so who knows who will buy it. It has already been approached by Cerberus, a company which buys failing companies cheap to make a quick buck.

    I bank with Triodos and my previous account was switched over in seven days. Their current account is like any other and provides the same services – apart from Apple and Google Pay. For this I got a free Curve card which works with Apple and Google Pay, added my Triodos debit card and can now shop using my phone. My Triodos account is debited immediately when I make a purchase.

    1. Thanks for this Phillip.

      Yes, Triodos has the top score for an ethical bank with EC, but I’m at all the different aspects of banking, including the cost of the account. I know most people aren’t going to pay £3 a month so Nationwide is my top pick.

      You’re right about the lower score for Co-op, but if you take a look at the full article in Ethical Consumer, Co-op bank is still one of it’s recommended accounts – partly because it has “a crystal clear ethical stance across a number of issues”.

    2. Hi Philip – how did you manage to set up Triodos on Curve? I bank with Triodos but the Curve app won’t accept the Triodos card…

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