Running your bank account

Once you have opened a bank account, you need to manage it carefully to ensure you keep control of your money.

The Money Advice Service provides a useful online guide on running your bank account with help on:

  • paying money into your account
  • taking money from cash machines
  • paying bills and transferring money out of your account
  • keeping track of your money, interest, and charges
  • dealing with problems with your bank

Going overdrawn and protecting your benefits

Unless you have an agreed overdraft, your bank will charge you if you allow your account to become overdrawn. These charges are usually high and can quickly add up.

You cannot have an overdraft on a basic bank account.

If your account is overdrawn, your bank may use any benefits or salary paid into your account to pay off your overdraft and your bank charges before they pay any other bills. You have the right to ask them not to do this and to request that they pay other expenses, such as your rent, first. This is called first right of appropriation.

You need to make the request to use your first right of appropriation in writing, and you'll have to write to the bank with new instructions each time you make a deposit. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or other financial advice service to see if they can provide a template letter to send to your bank or help you make the request.

Making a complaint

If your bank makes any charges that you don’t understand, you should ask for an explanation. If you’re not happy with their explanation, you can make a complaint. You can find information on how to do this on the Citizens Advice Service and the Money Advice Service websites.