Banking

The way you bank from the type of bank account you use, the methods of paying bills or accessing your bank can have an impact on your income and expenditure. This section will give you hints and tips on how to bank better and save money from identifying the real cost of Pre-Packaged accounts, cheaper ways to pay your bills and how to get a grip on your credit score.

Please Note

This section is quite lengthy in parts. Please take time to read through all sections to find the best suitable help. 

Read about different types of bank accounts

There are different types of bank accounts which can be used for different reasons. 

Read our advice on getting a bank account and the different types of bank accounts available.

You can also use Money Saving Expert's guide on the Best Bank Accounts to help you compare the different bank accounts on offer.

Citizens Advice Scotland's guide to bank accounts
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Money Saving Expert's Best Bank Accounts Comparison Tool
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Compare pre-packaged accounts

A pre-packaged account charges you a monthly fee for insurance policies and benefits like breakdown cover. This type of account might be a good option to get cheap insurance. But, if you don’t need the insurance, a pre-packaged account won't be right for you.

If you're thinking about getting a pre-packaged accounts, you should first check if you can buy cheaper insurance elsewhere. If you're paying £15 a month for your bank account, this amounts to £180 per year. Instead, you could use this money to buy cheaper insurance from elsewhere. 

You can compare different banks' pre-packaged account offers using Money Saving Expert’s guide to Pre-Packaged Bank accounts.

Money Saving Expert's Pre-Packaged Accounts Guide
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Please Note

If you do have a pre-packaged account which you are not benefiting from, you can ask to switch to a fee-free account with the same bank or move to another bank or building society. This is the same if you are not happy with your bank account, in which case you should move. Many banks offer switching incentives and you can read our section on Utilities & Switching to find out more about switching services. 

Choosing a Basic Bank Account

You might opt for a free basic bank account if you have a low income or a poor credit rating meaning you can't open a standard current account. Money Savings Expert’s guide on basic bank accounts is useful if you need more information.


Money Saving Expert's Guide to Basic Bank Accounts
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Please Note

If you have a current account which is overdrawn, you might be better to get debt advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Choosing a Credit Union Account

Credit unions are local co-operative organisations. Members pool their savings to provide each other with credit at low interest rates.

Before joining a credit union, it's important to check if they charge an administration fee for their current accounts. Credit unions tend to charge fees if they offer support with budgeting.

For example, they might offer “Jam Jar” Accounts which are specially designed to let you divide your money into different “jars” within a single account. These accounts work by setting aside an agreed amount for essential bills when money is paid into your account. This amount is then used to pay your chosen bills by direct debit or standing order. Normally the money left over can be loaded onto a pre-paid card or you can withdraw it from a cashpoint machine. 

Read more about Jam Jar Accounts on the Money Helper’s website.

Find a Credit Union
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Money Helper's advice on Jam Jam Accounts
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Find cheaper ways to pay your bills

The way you pay bills can affect your income, because companies might charge you extra for services if you choose not to pay by direct debit. Generally, companies will issue you with a paper bill or “invoice” and will charge a small administration fee.

Direct Debits and Standing Orders are great for regular fixed payments like your rent or council tax. 

There's a quick and easy guide on the best ways to pay your bills on Money Helper's website. 

For energy bills, UK Power’s guide to bill payment methods  explains the ways you can pay your bills and the advantages or disadvantages of each option.


Money Helper's Best Ways to Pay Bills
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UK Power's Guide to Energy Payment Methods
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Please Note

Direct debit payments come with a Guarantee which protects you from fraudulent payments. 

You can also check out our Utilities & Switching  or Energy sections to find out more on how to reduce your energy bills.


Making your Bank work for you

However, you pay your bills, it's important to keep track of payments so you can avoid late fees and don't build up debts. You can use our Budgeting Tools to help work out your bills and check out our Budgeting section for more useful information.

You can also check if your bank offer services to help you manage your bills and keep track of them.

This can include "low balance" alerts where your bank will send you a notification, text or email to alert you that you're close to your overdraft limit or about to go into your overdraft.

Other tools include digital budgeting, which you can use online or via your banking app on your mobile phone.


Use Top Tips for Making the Most out of your Bank

The Money Helper's website has pulled together various top tips which can help you make the most out of your bank.

You can use other digital budgeting tools offered by third-party apps and software to help you track your spending, set savings goals or create a saving plan.

Open Banking allows you a chance to use your financial information from your bank with these apps. You can find out more about Open Banking on Money Saving Expert’s website.

Making the Most out of your Bank
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Open Banking
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Please Note

Open Banking has led to lots of third-party budgeting apps which can help you navigate the world of financial services and help you manage your money. These apps will take the financial data from your bank and analyse it for you. They will provide you with an overview of your financial situation. This is especially useful if you have multiple bank accounts as it can provide a picture of all your accounts in one place.

Get a Money Management App

Various apps offer different tools and ways to track your spending and manage your budget. You can use Which's guide to the best money management apps to help you save money.


WHICH's Money Management Apps Guide
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Please Note

New apps enter the market all the time, therefore you should always use trusted sites such as Money Saving Expert or Which? to help you find the best available.

Getting to Grips with your Credit Score

Budgeting can be useful when you're considering applying for a credit card, loan or other forms of credit. When you apply, your lender should  check your personal situation to help them decide whether to lend money to you.

This can include checking your budget to see if you have enough income to make repayments. Most lenders will also review your credit score or rating.

Each fact about your situation is given points. When added together, these points will give you a score. The higher your score, the more credit-worthy you are and the easier it is to borrow money. Low scores can make it harder to borrow money.


Get a Credit Report

You can get your credit report from a credit reference agencies. These are authorised companies who collect and store information on your borrowing and financial history. 

It's important to check your credit score and get a copy of your credit report. This can show how much money you've already borrowed. 

It's a good idea to check your credit report has the right details about your financial situation. 

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from the three credit reference agencies below.

Experian
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Equifax
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Transunion
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Please Note

You should ask for a “statutory report” and it's worth getting reports from all 3 agencies as they may hold different information.

You can read more about how lenders decide to give you credit on our advice website

You should only borrow what you can afford to repay, as missed payments and high debts will lower your credit score. If you're planning on borrowing, you may want to slowly build up your credit history. You can find information on how to do this safely on Money Saving Expert’s website.

Bust Myths about Credit Scores

There are several common misconceptions about your credit score. 

You can read about these common myths on Experian’s website.

Experian Credit Myths
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