A quick guide to the best bank accounts

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Roughly 300 different banks operate in the UK as of 20231, not to mention the countless financial apps such as Revolut and Wise that aren’t technically banks that also operate in the country.

With so many different options, it can take time to figure out which is the best place to store your money. 

No matter what you’re looking for in a bank account, there are plenty of options across the UK. Whether it's the perks you get with your debit card, high interest rates, or low account or international fees, there are lots of things to look for when searching for a new bank account.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore some of the top bank accounts in the UK, considering all these features and more to determine which bank account you should choose, depending on what’s most important to you.

What are the most important features to consider when opening a bank account?

Not only are there lots of different banks to choose from, but there are also lots of different features and aspects you need to be aware of before selecting the best UK bank account for you.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a brief rundown of all the most important features to consider, what they mean, and what exactly you should be looking for with each.

Banking fees

Some banks like to make money off you wherever possible, so it's vital that you’re on the lookout when opening a new bank account.

In fact, a recent report estimated that small to mid-sized businesses in the UK lost around £2.8 Billion in 20232 - that’s roughly the same amount as Belize’s entire GDP3. While you’re unlikely to see such huge impacts, this shows how banking fees can add up quickly.

Beyond the apparent account maintenance fees, it's essential to scrutinize the entirety of potential charges associated with the account. This includes delving into overdraft fees, which can significantly impact your finances if not managed carefully. 

Other fees to be aware of include foreign transaction fees, which can be a particular problem if you regularly send money abroad, making money transfer apps an attractive workaround for many.

Interest rates

Just like small fees can add up, seemingly small interest rates can also build up your savings in a positive way. As of 2024 UK savings rates appear to be on the rise4, and squeezing the most out of the most competitive rates is a great way to maximize the growth potential of your money.

Customer service

When you have issues with your bank, the last thing you want is to wait two hours on the phone only to find an unhelpful customer service agent.

Checking online reviews from other customers about a potential bank’s customer service quality is one of the most important, and often overlooked, parts of searching for a new bank account

Alongside reviews, also consider factors such as the availability of support channels (phone, email, live chat), response times, and the overall effectiveness of the bank in addressing queries or concerns.

Online bank features

We are in an era dominated by digital technologies across the board, from better ways to call internationally to new apps for sending money, the days of analogue technology are slowly fading.

With this, it's important to ensure your potential new UK bank account has a robust, secure, and easy-to-use online and mobile banking platform. Since this will likely be the main point of contact between you, your bank account, and your money, this is quite possibly one of the most important things to check.

The key things to look out for are the banking app’s functionality, security measures, and user experience. Specifically, identify features such as intuitive navigation, robust security protocols (e.g., multi-factor authentication), account alerts, and the availability of essential services such as bill payments, fund transfers, and mobile check deposits.

Additional perks

With a lot of the basics out of the way, you can start checking the fun stuff. Many accounts offer a range of supplementary perks and benefits like discounts or reward systems, either on bank cards or for other chains like restaurants or cinemas, often including cashback rewards on purchases, fee waivers for certain transactions or services, access to exclusive savings deals or interest rates, insurance coverage, and discounts on partner products or services. 

If perks are the final deciding factor between your top two choices, think carefully about which perks you’re actually likely to use, and how much money they will save you.

Accessibility and convenience

Depending on your needs, checking in-person accessibility can be important. This means checking where nearby branches and ATMs are, alongside any digital platforms the Bank has.

Account requirements and restrictions

Some accounts have various restrictions for opening them, so before you start setting up your account make sure you won’t get denied. These restrictions typically include age and residency status in the UK.

Account security measures

One of the most important things is ensuring your money is secure. To do this, check the account security measures - it should have robust encryption protocols and fraud detection systems to ensure that sensitive data remains protected from unauthorized access and cyber threats.

Other security features include deposit insurance coverage - something that most regulated banks should have, but money transfer services such as Wise or Revolut don’t.

You can check the government’s official list of banks that come under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) on the Bank of England's website5.

Bank reputation and stability

When it comes to storing money, reputation is everything. Regardless of perks or high-interest rates, it is important to make sure your new bank account is created with a trusted and stable bank.

Aside from name recognition, the best way to check a bank’s reputation and stability is by examining the bank's track record of protecting customers, customer reviews, and regulatory compliance. It’s also worth staying informed about any developments or changes affecting the bank's stability, such as mergers, acquisitions, or regulatory scrutiny which could change things in the future.

Highlighting the best UK bank accounts

The UK offers many different options for bank accounts, however, we have compiled four of the best UK bank accounts, diving deep into what benefits they provide and any drawbacks you need to be aware of.

First Direct 1st Account

In keeping with this account's name, we go first to First Direct’s 1st Account6, an account filled with bonuses and boosts to your money saving. While its perks are great, First Direct is most renowned for its stellar customer service and cutting-edge digital banking platform.

If you’re a young, tech-savvy saver whose priority is an easy-to-use and innovative app, the First Direct 1st Account is a great choice as a UK bank account.

Its bonuses include a £175 welcome bonus, as well as a £250 interest-free overdraft, making it one of the best student bank accounts around. Of course, the main event is the Regular Saver Account, which offers an extremely high 7% AER interest rate - though as with most saver accounts this requires no withdrawals - i.e. you must leave your money in the saver for at least a year to receive the 7% annual interest.


  • Exceptional mobile app and customer support
  • Lucrative welcome bonus and a great savings interest rate
  • Lack of physical branches may be inconvenient for some customers, making it difficult for in-person communication or problem-solving with any bank issues

Chase Current Account/Savings Account

Easily one of the best bank accounts in the UK for any cashback connoisseur, one of Chase’s leading features is 1% cashback on everyday purchases via your debit card for the first 12 months - a feature that can quickly add up. 

Alongside its cashback perk, the Chase current account7 can be enhanced by the use of Chase’s competitive easy-access savings account8, giving a respectable 4.1% AER interest rate, but without having to lock your money away. This means you can use the savings account just like a regular account, withdrawing and depositing money whenever you like without affecting the interest rate.

When using the Chase bank debit card, users can also get fee-free spending abroad - something not present on all UK debit cards.

As a digital Bank, Chase also has a very user-friendly banking app, however, this does come at the expense of no in-person branches in the UK.

  • Generous cashback rewards
  • Attractive savings rates
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Limited to app-based banking  
  • Lacks any physical branches

Starling Personal Current Account

The Starling Personal Current Account9 is an excellent digital option, with low overdraft fees and respectable interest rates. As an overall institution, Starling Bank stands out as one of the UK’s top banks for customer service10 and has many excellent in-app tools to make money transfer easier, such as a bill-splitting feature. 

Offering a reasonable interest rate of 3.25 AER on all balances up to £5,000, this interest rate applies to your normal account, meaning there are no restrictions on withdrawals to get the high-interest rate.

The Starling Personal Current Account also offers a debit card with a low overdraft fee of 15% APR, compared to most banks’ overdraft fees at around 40%. As well as this, the account comes with a fee-free card when used abroad, making it a great choice for frequent international travellers or holiday-goers.

Unfortunately, after the first £1000 is deposited into your account, any more deposits will come with a fee of 0.7%, making it less attractive for larger-scale savings.

  • Low overdraft fees
  • Superb customer service
  • Reliable and intuitive app
  • Respectable interest rates
  • No physical branches
  • Presence of fees for deposits over £1000

Nationwide FlexDirect 

One of the UK’s older and more established banks, Nationwide offers a set of great interest rates across its different accounts. The Nationwide FlexDirect account11 is a great option for people looking for a strong interest rate on their base account, offering 5% AER interest for the first 12 months on any money in your account up to £1500. 

Although, as a regular account that you’ll use every day, Nationwide requires that you pay £1000 in and out of the account each month - so this is only truly useful if you expect to move this much money through the FlexDirect account or use it for paying bills.

Alongside the FlexDirect account, Nationwide also offers a Regular Savings account12 with a very high interest rate of 6.5% AER, although this does have a limit of only three withdrawals a year to achieve this high interest rate.

As a more traditional bank, Nationwide is the only bank on this list with in-person branches, while still maintaining a fairly robust and easy-to-use banking app - although it doesn’t have quite as many innovative features as the others.

  • Competitive interest rates and attractive savings incentives
  • No real perks or additional benefits - purely savings advantages

In-depth reviews of the best bank accounts

To make things easier, here’s a table outlining exactly what each of these bank accounts offer.

Banks: Customer service score10 Core account features Fees Interest rates Rewards
First Direct 1st Account 8/10 - Great
  • No debit card fees abroad
  • £250 interest-free overdraft
  • Quick and easy account setup
No deposit fees, but various fees for withdrawing cash and international money transfer Regular saver account: 7% AER £175 welcome bonus
Chase Current Account and Savings Account 8/10 - Great
  • Fee-free spending abroad
  • High-interest easy-access savings
  • Simple and intuitive app
No fees Easy-access savings: 4.1% AER 1% cashback on everyday purchases for 12 month
Starling Personal Current Account 9/10 - Excellent
  • no card fees abroad
  • 24/7 customer support
  • In-app smart tools for budgeting/saving
0.7% deposit fees after the first £1000 Interest on balances: up to 3.25% AER No additional rewards/perks
Nationwide Flexdirect 7.5/10 - Good/Great
  • Option for joint banking
  • Strong interest rates
  • Intuitive online banking
Fees for spending abroad/international payments In-credit interest: 5% AER Offers an additional 6.5% AER Regular Savings account

Comprehensive account analysis - Which UK bank account should You choose?

With the core features of these four bank accounts covered, it’s time to go into detail about which account is best for you, depending on what you are looking for.

First Direct 1st Account - The highest savings

Perfect for those with a huge focus on finding the best interest rates possible, the First Direct 1st Account offers one of the UK’s highest savings interest rates at 7% AER.

Along with this, it also offers a nice £175 welcome bonus for joining, as well as a £250 interest-free overdraft, giving you some nice extra perks to complement the substantial interest rate.

If you’re looking to go abroad or make international payments, however, this may not be the best option. This is because of First Direct’s international spending and transfer fees, which can add up if you travel often. 

When it comes to savings, you’ll also need to be comfortable not touching your savings money for a whole year. If you need easy access to your cash, First Direct may not be the best option for you.

Despite this, First Direct still has a solid mobile app and great customer support, although it's worth keeping in mind the lack of physical branches which may be a drawback if you prefer in-person banking interactions.

Chase Current Account/ Savings Account - Good savings, better rewards

Ideal for those looking for constant rewards and perks, Chase's Current Account/Savings Account combination offers a compelling blend of savings opportunities and great rewards.

The star of the show is Chase’s 1% cashback reward system, giving you 1% cashback on everyday purchases for the first 12 months - a perk that can add up quickly so long as you use Chase for all your everyday spending.

With access to a competitive 4.1% AER interest rate via the easy-access savings account, alongside fee-free spending abroad, Chase is a great choice for travellers and spenders looking to save a little bit of cash.

Of course, 4.1% AER is not the highest interest rate on the market, however, you don’t need to keep your money locked away to achieve it, so Chase is ideal for those who want to save a little without limiting access to their money. 

Another thing to keep in mind is just like First Direct, Chase has no physical presence in the UK, making it a poor choice for those who prefer to talk to their bank in person when issues arise.

Starling Personal Current Account - Peace of mind

With the best customer service across all UK banks10, the Starling Personal Current Account excels in providing peace of mind with 24/7 customer support, low overdraft fees, respectable interest rates, and a fee-free card for use abroad. 

A great choice for those looking for solid interest rates and a reliable bank in times of trouble, Starling Bank’s Personal Current Account has plenty to offer for those who want a smooth digital banking experience.

It does have several drawbacks, however. Just as with some of the other banks, an absence of physical branches may be an issue for those who prefer in-person assistance.

Likely more important than this, however, is Starling’s 0.7% deposit fees after the first £1000, which can be a major negative for those looking to save more substantial amounts of money.

Nationwide Flexdirect - The all-rounder

Nationwide FlexDirect emerges as a solid all-rounder option, offering competitive interest rates and attractive savings incentives. With a 5% AER in-credit interest rate on balances up to £1,500 and a high-interest regular savings account at 6.5% AER, Nationwide has multiple options of high-interest rate savings accounts, making it a great choice for those focused on cash-interest savings. 

Along with this, Nationwide is the only bank on this list with in-person branches, which may provide added convenience for those who prefer face-to-face interactions. 

Although Nationwide doesn’t have any notable perks or rewards, it has a good range of savings options, as well as a solid banking app. The Nationwide Flexdirect and regular savings accounts are great choices for those who prioritise simple saving options.

It is worth noting that Nationwide does charge fees for international transfers and payments abroad, making it a weaker choice for regular international travellers.

Awards and recognition

A few of these banks have also won several awards in the last few years, most notably:

The First Direct 1st Account, Chase Banking, and Starling all won the “Customer Satisfaction Award”13 by Finder in 2024. As some of the best bank accounts in the country, it should come as no surprise that these banks score so highly on customer service, and this award reinforces their reliability when it comes to solving customer issues.

Various awards were also won at the 2023 British Bank awards14.

Chase swept through with three awards, winning the “Best British Bank”, “Best Current Account Provider” and “Best Savings Provider” awards, cementing its position as one of the best options for savings and current accounts with a good degree of flexibility.

Starling Bank also won “Best Business Banking Provider”, demonstrating its reliability and excellent banking app, pulling through with an overflow of positive reviews of its easy-to-use online services.

User testimonials and expert opinions: What’s the state of UK banking today?

Sometimes, the facts and figures of a new current account don’t tell you everything you need to know about a bank. One reliable way to figure out if a new bank is for you is to read the customer reviews and check what the experts say.

What do the people think?

From overall polling, it seems clear that these four banks consistently top the lists of the best Bank Accounts, with Starling and Nationwide especially exceeding15.

But what do individual customer reviews have to say?

First Direct

Overall users of First Direct are ecstatic with the Bank’s quality, describing it as the “best bank ever” (Sarah Balmer), or a “quality bank” with a “supurb app” (Robert Smith).

With very few negative reviews and an above 4* rating on Trustpilot, it seems First Direct has a ringing endorsement from its customers.

Chase Banking

Coming in with another rating above 4* on Trustpilot, Chase banking has plenty of positive reviews and very few negative ones.

Customers often cite their “very good and easy to use app” (Andrew) and love Chase’s easy access saver (Mike Sheffield).


“Can I just say whoever programs the app/software knows what people want from a Bank” - Dan Lebath

Once again scoring an average above 4* on Trustpilot, Starling Bank is inundated with positive reviews, with customers largely impressed by the easy-to-use app and smooth online banking experience.


A more mixed set of reviews, Nationwide still has plenty of positive customer experiences, but sits at a much lower 1.8* on Trustpilot.

Positive reviews are impressed by Nationwide’s smooth service and trouble-free banking, however many of the negative reviews seem to be having issue with unusually long wait times to talk to Nationwide over the phone. 

Whether this is a long-term issue or due to a larger structural problem at Nationwide is unclear.

Of course, every person’s banking experience is unique, however, these reviews combined with general polling give a pretty good outlook for all four of our top banking options. It’s worth noting, however, that Nationwide had a much wider spread of positive and negative reviews compared to the other three, with Starling Bank standing out as consistently reaching the top 3 in multiple categories16.

What do the experts think?

The general consensus appears to be that UK banking is in a pretty good spot. Experts believe that the UK will continue to be a financial hub17 of the world, but do warn of the potential uses - both good and bad, of AI.

With a growing banking sector, UK banks are as incentivised as ever to offer competitive interest rates and bank accounts, meaning you should stay on the lookout for new and better deals wherever possible. Don’t be afraid to switch accounts if it gets you a better deal!

While the rise of digital banking has plenty of positive effects, it will be important in the future to look out for banks using AI to influence our spending choices18. Staying aware of the dangers of AI, and keeping conscious of your own financial decisions will help you stay ahead of any influence, ensuring you always choose the best banking option for you.

What are the best international banking solutions?

Traditional Banking has always struggled with international banking - even from our top four list, only Starling and Chase don’t charge any fees for spending money abroad or transferring money internationally.

If the bank you choose still has fees for international payments, there are plenty of options to complement your bank.

For those who travel a lot and always need an international mobile top-up, a service like BOSS Revolution allows you to quickly and easily top up your phone with whatever currency you need, wherever you are, whenever you want. 

This is of course joined with BOSS Revolution international calling services, offering extremely competitive rates and low fees to call wherever you need to in the world.

This helps you avoid fees across the board, whether it's in your bank account or calling friends and family. One other element to look out for is currency exchange rates. Even with low fees, some banks can have very changeable exchange rates, so its worth checking out how your potential bank calculates its exchange rates.

How to navigate fees and charges at even the best UK bank accounts

Both hidden and obvious, banking fees can be the silent killers of your savings, and understanding them is the first step to getting the most out of your banking experience.

Even the best banks typically have fees in certain places, so it’s important you know exactly where to look when determining what fees you need to avoid, and which ones won’t be as bad.

Monthly maintenance fees

While none of the Banks on our list have this, many bank accounts can come with monthly maintenance fees to cover account upkeep. These fees can vary massively depending on the type of account and bank, and can eat away at your money if you’re not careful.

Unless the rewards and benefits massively outweigh the fees, it's usually best to avoid bank accounts with these fees - though you should note that some accounts have fee waivers tied to maintaining a minimum balance, setting up direct deposits, or meeting other specified criteria, which might be ok if you think you will meet these criteria.

Overdraft fees

One of the most common types of fees, most banks have overdraft fees which kick in whenever you spend more than what's available in your account, leading to a negative balance. 

Apart from never going into overdraft, there are some banks with better overdraft options:

First Direct offers an interest-free overdraft, while Starling Bank offers overdraft interest rates that are significantly lower than the average.

ATM withdrawal fees

If you need physical cash, your first port-of-call will almost always be an ATM, and these can often come with withdrawal fees - especially when using non-affiliated ATMs. 

Aside from using digital money more than cash, one of the best ways to avoid these fees is by using in-network ATMs whenever possible - i.e. a Nationwide ATM if you’re with Nationwide. 

Foreign transaction fees

Another extremely common type of fee, most banks operate with some kind of foreign transaction fee, which occurs whenever you purchase things abroad, withdraw cash in a foreign currency or country, or sometimes even when you digitally transfer money internationally. 

You can minimize these fees by using credit or debit cards with waived or reduced international transaction fees, or by sending money via various financial apps with lower fees.

Miscellaneous fees

There are also lots of other smaller and unusual fees that can apply in certain situations - for these it's always worth checking a bank’s fee policy document. One fee that is slowly disappearing is paper statement fees, due to the increase in digital statements.

Other fees such as account closure fees can also apply in some cases, so make sure to do your research on fees before opening a new account with a bank.

How to switch to your new best bank account

Once upon a time, switching accounts was a painful, slow, and complicated process. Luckily, the new Current Account Switch Service (CASS)19 makes the whole thing much much easier. 

Here's a simple guide on using CASS to switch your bank account:

  1. Research and Choose Your New Bank Account:
    -Do your research, compare different features and benefits, and decide which bank account you want to switch to
  2. Initiate the Switch with CASS:
    -Talk to your new chosen bank about switching, and request to use CASS
    -You’ll then need to provide necessary details such as your current account information at your previous bank
    -Your new bank will then handle the switch for you, talking to your old bank to transfer any outstanding payments, direct debits, and standing orders to your new account
  3. Complete the Switch Process:
    -Once all of this is done, your new bank will give you a switch date, usually within seven working days, which is the date when your new account will be ready
    -Remember, make sure to continue using your old account until the switch date, as until then the new account isn’t ready
    -On the switch date, your old account balance will transfer to your new account, and your old account will then close automatically
  4. Verify the Completion:
    -Make sure to check that all of your payments and direct debits have been successfully transferred, and then update any relevant contacts with your new bank details
    -If there are any issues, contact your new bank, not your old one, for support, and they should solve the issue for you
  5. Enjoy Your New Bank Account:
    -That’s it, job done! Enjoy your new account

Navigating the new financial world

With the correct guide and a cool head, picking out the best bank account for you and switching doesn’t have to be a stressful time.

Looking at some of the UK’s favourite banks for current and savings accounts, this guide can be used not just as a checklist of what some current banks have to offer, but as a general document to help you navigate the financial world.

Whether it's knowing what features and perks to look for, or what fees and charges to avoid, you can make the most out of your money and stop worrying about your banking once you understand the key things to be aware of.

As the UK banking industry continues to be competitive, you can expect to see new offers, perks, and interest rates all the time. Hopefully, this guide has given you all the tools and guidance needed to spot the best deals and get the most out of your savings.

Sources: all third party information obtained from applicable website as of April 08, 2024

  1. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/prudential-regulation/authorisations/which-firms-does-the-pra-regulate/2023/list-of-banks/banks-list-2301.pdf

  2. https://wise.com/campaign/end-the-opt-out

  3. https://www.worldometers.info/gdp/gdp-by-country/

  4. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/boeapps/database/Bank-Rate.asp

  5. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/prudential-regulation/authorisations/financial-services-compensation-scheme

  6. https://www.firstdirect.com/banking/current-account/

  7. https://www.chase.co.uk/gb/en/product/chase-account/

  8. https://www.chase.co.uk/gb/en/product/chase-saver-account/

  9. https://www.starlingbank.com/current-account/

  10. https://www.statista.com/statistics/386749/uk-leading-banks-by-customer-satisfaction/

  11. https://www.nationwide.co.uk/current-accounts/flexdirect/

  12. https://www.nationwide.co.uk/savings/flex-regular-saver/

  13. https://www.finder.com/uk/finder-banking-customer-satisfaction-awards-2024

  14. https://smartmoneypeople.com/british-bank-awards/winners

  15. https://www.retailbankerinternational.com/news/uks-best-and-worst-banks-for-customer-service-rated-by-customers/?cf-view

  16. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-releases-banking-satisfaction-survey-results

  17. https://www.thebanker.com/Hopes-high-that-UK-will-remain-a-leading-financial-hub-1696583744

  18. https://www.independent.co.uk/tech/banks-accenture-research-chatgpt-kpmg-uk-b2471669.html

  19. https://www.currentaccountswitch.co.uk/

This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to address every aspect of the matters discussed herein. The information in this article is not intended as specific personal advice. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax, regulatory or other professional advice from IDT Payment Services, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, “IDT”), and should not be taken or used as such by any individual. IDT makes no representation, warranty or guaranty, whether express or implied, that the content in this article is current, accurate, or complete. You should obtain professional or other substantive advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the information in this article.