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Basic bank accounts have been around for a while but lots of us don’t really understand what they are and who is entitled to have one.

We did some research* and found that although just over half of the population have heard of basic bank accounts, 76% get the definition wrong.

What are basic bank accounts?

Put simply, basic bank accounts are specially designed products for people with poor credit scores. They don’t come with an overdraft and there are no interest payments if you’re in credit.

While they're free if you stay in the black, there are usually charges for unauthorised overdrafts and bounced payments. It is estimated that there are more than one million people in this country without access to a bank account.

What we found out

According to our survey, of the 54% of people who had heard of basic bank accounts, the majority thought they were free accounts with no overdraft. While this may be true for some people, those who slip into the red can be penalised.

We also discovered that one fifth of the people we spoke to believed they had a basic account. It’s possible they're mistaken, because official figures suggest that just 12% of current account holders have basic bank accounts. If nothing else, this means there is a degree of confusion around basic accounts.


You don’t have to have a bank account to access your money. There are also building society accounts - and of course there's the thinkmoney Current Account, which is an alternative to a basic bank account and doesn’t require a credit check. Furthermore, our team of Money Managers offer practical help with budgeting. We charge a monthly fee but we don’t allow you to go overdrawn, so there are no unexpected charges.

*Consumer Intelligence questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,202 adults aged 18 and over between 31st July and 5th August 2013. Figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults.

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