Don’t want to switch your main account? Get one of these instead.
Long-time readers will know I’m a huge fan of switching old current accounts to different banks. Sometimes this is just to get a better account than the one you already have, and sometimes it’s in order to get free switching cash.
But to get this free money there’s always a key condition – the account you switch from has to be closed down.
There are lots of reasons you might not want to do that, meaning one of the most frequent questions I get is what is a good current account to open purely so it can be used to switch to another bank for a bonus.
Well, here are my top “dummy” account you could open with the main aim of ditching it soon after, along with a few things to think about first.
Reasons not to switch an existing account
Let’s start just by going through reasons you might want to keep your existing account.
You like your bank
Though there are plenty of banks that leave a lot to be desired, some are actually pretty decent. My main account is with Starling and changing it to a different one would give me an inferior app and banking experience.
You get decent rewards
There are a number of current accounts where you’ll get freebies or extras that are worth keeping. For example:
- £5 a month via the Halifax Reward account
- 6 cinema tickets via the Club Lloyds account
- Cashback on bills via the Santander 123 Lite account
- High paying regular saver accounts from Natwest and First Direct
If you switch away you’ll lose these benefits, so keeping the account can be worthwhile. Of course, some other account rewards are worth less and you might be fine ditching those.
You’ve had your account for a long time
There’s a good chance if you’re new to switching then your main account is the same account you’ve had since leaving school. That could mean you’ve had it for decades – and that longevity is seen as a positive when you apply for credit.
So closing an old account could mean your credit score dips. This isn’t a massive concern, but it’s worth avoiding if you can, especially if you have a big credit application such as a mortgage or important balance transfer card around the corner.
You can’t switch your account
More than 40 of the main UK banks and building societies are part of the Current Account Switching Service, which means you can switch them to a new account as part of the scheme. This is a requirement for all switching bonuses.
However a handful of digital accounts aren’t part of it, and if this is your main account you can’t switch. The most likely ones you could be using are:
- Chase Bank
It’s your only account
I think it’s a bit risky to have just one current account, so if you’re after bank features other than a switching bonus (e.g. a 0% overdraft or one of the rewards mentioned above) then it makes more sense to open up extra accounts and keep the existing account as a spare.
You can then, with most banks, ask for a partial switch where you choose what is moved over. This keeps the old account open. However, you won’t be protected by the Current Account Switch Guarantee.
You don’t have a debit card
One condition that’s often overlooked from a switch is the requirement to have a debit card. If like me you’ve got old accounts you no longer use, it’s possible that the debit card expired and a new one wasn’t issued. If that’s the case, you can’t switch it.
Factors to consider from a “dummy” account
Before you open a new current account, you need to decide if any of these factors are in play:
- Does the account offer any decent ongoing benefits?
- Does the bank ever run switching deals?
- Does the bank require a hard credit check?
- Do you think you might want to use that bank in the future?
- Have you already used the bank as a “dummy” account?
Answering yes to any of these doesn’t rule out going for it, but it’s worth thinking about them first.
Types of “dummy” accounts
The soft check account
Most banks will hard check your credit report when you apply. This will have a short term impact on your credit report and score. Most of the time it’s not an issue, but you might want to avoid this if your score isn’t great or there’s an important application on the horizon.
However, Monzo and Starling are quick accounts to open and are the only ones that won’t perform a hard check on your credit report to check your identity – as long as you don’t apply for an overdraft. As mentioned, other digital banks like Chase and Revolut aren’t part of the switching scheme.
The other benefit is you’ll be able to see your new debit card number straight away, meaning you can start the switch at another bank without waiting for the physical card to arrive.
You won’t be able to keep doing this with these banks. For a start there can be a wait until you can open an account with them again (one year for Starling, 30 days for Monzo). Plus the banks have checks that will flag your application and you could be rejected.
Though most banks also offer “basic” current accounts (which also don’t run credit checks), they might not give it to you if you’re eligble for a standard account, so they probably aren’t worth going for.
The extra account with your existing bank
Another easy option is to look at additional accounts with one of your other existing banks. These will in theory be quite fast to get and since you’re already set up with online banking there’s no waiting around for that.
This also means you can keep ongoing benefits with that bank as switching one account doesn’t close others. If you’re going to do this then go for a free account rather than one that has fees.
The account with some freebies
There aren’t many banks that offer you something when you up that you might be able to keep, but there are a handful.
The Club Lloyds account mentioned above will give you 6 cinema tickets or a year’s magazine subscription. In theory, you should continue to get the freebie for the full year even after switching away (though there’s the risk it’ll end).
You’ll also hopefully be able to get switching money from the bank in the future since most switching deals for Lloyds have only stipulated that you can’t have had the cash bonus before, not that you’ve previously held an account, so you’d hopefully be able to open a new account and switch into it when that offer returns.
Or there’s the TSB’s Spend & Save account as you can get £20 cashback via TopCashback. However, it will take you six months to get that cashback, so it’s not one you can use for an immediate switch.
You could also look at Triodos, which offers a £60 voucher at Ethical Superstore for joining. However since this is an ethical bank I personally would discourage everyone opening one just for the purposes of then switching away. There’s also a £3 monthly fee.
The accounts that rarely offer anything
Finally, there are some banks which aren’t up to much, so by opening an account it’s unlikely you’ll miss out on current offers. The risk is this could change and by having had an account you rule yourself out of future switching deals.
At the moment banks to consider here are:
- Barclays (Boosted Blue Rewards switch deal last ran in 2019)
- Co-operative Bank (there is a £50 refer-a-friend switch deal)
- Metro (a £50 switch deal ran in 2020)
Which accounts to keep and ditch after switching?
Once you’ve got a dummy account and used it to switch, you could keep switching this spare account for future offers again and again.
However as mentioned earlier you can have multiple accounts and some are worth keeping. Ideally look to have two or three accounts, perhaps up to five.
Personally I’d aim to have the following accounts, rather than switch away once getting any money:
- Halifax Reward (worth £60 a year)
- Santander 123 Lite (worth £40 to £70 a year)
- Natwest or RBS Reward (worth £36 a year plus 3.3% regular saver)
- Virgin Money M Plus (2.02% interest on savings)
The accounts I’d not be bothered about keeping right now (this could change) after getting switching cash are: