Best UK current accounts

9 min Read Published: 01 May 2024

The best UK current accounts - July 2021Looking for a new current account? In this article, we round up 6 of the best current accounts on the market from high-street banks, building societies and digital banks. To help you choose, we've also listed the rate of interest, monthly fees, overdraft charges, and account offers you could get from each one.

What is a current bank account?

A current account is a type of bank or building society account that you use for your day-to-day spending.

This is where your salary is usually paid, and you can set up automated electronic payments – such as direct debits and standing orders – to pay for regular bills and outgoings. Current accounts often come with a debit card, which you can use to withdraw cash from a cash machine or to make payments, including contactless payments in shops and purchases online, and give you immediate access to the money in your account.

There are dozens of current account options for UK customers, from well-known high street retailers to building societies and up-and-coming digital banks. Picking the one that's best for you can be daunting, however, so we've listed some of the things you should be looking for.

Top UK current accounts (May 2024)

In the following table, we summarise some of the UK's best current accounts in May 2024. The list is not exclusive and there may be other bank accounts that suit your circumstances better so it is recommended to shop around for the best account that suits your needs. The following accounts are chosen based on the account features, monthly fees and interest rates. Some of the accounts also offer incentives to switch but not all of these are included in the table. Find out more about the best switching offers in our article, 'Best current account switching offers, cashback and incentives'.

Best UK bank accounts - a comparison

Provider Account Name Fee-free spending abroad Monthly Fee Current account Interest Rate Linked Saver Interest Rate Good For
Starling Bank Personal Current Account tick £0 3.25% (up to £5,000) 4.48% Earning interest & easy to use app
Chase Bank Current Account tick £0 1.00% 4.10% Cashback with no monthly fee
Virgin Money M Plus Current Account tick £0 2.02% (up to £1,000) 2.50% (up to £25,000) Earning interest
First Direct 1st Account tick £0 0% 7.00% (deposit £25 -£300/month for 12 months on the Regular Saver Account) Customer service
Santander Edge Current Account tick (2.95% fee within first 3 working days of opening or transferring to the account) £3 0% 7.00% up to £4,000 (includes 12-month introductory bonus rate of 2.50%) Cashback
Nationwide FlexPlus Current Account tick £13 0% 3.25% for 12 months with Flex Instant Saver or 6.50% variable with Flex Regular Saver Packaged account features

 

Starling Bank logoStarling Bank - good for earning interest & easy to use app-only banking

  • Account name - Personal Current Account
  • Current account interest - 3.25% on balances up to £5,000
  • Savings account interest - 4.48% fixed for 12 months
  • Monthly fee - £0
  • Arranged overdraft rate - 15%, 25% or 35%
  • Unarranged overdraft fee - £0
  • Foreign currency cash withdrawal - No fee
  • Foreign currency debit card payment - No fee
  • Switch incentive - N/A
  • Extras - 'Digital change jar' for storing savings separately, savings on autopilot rounds up to the nearest pound and transfers into a savings space

Starling Bank's Personal Current Account is one of the best on the market, with no monthly fees, a lower-than-average overdraft rate, and no foreign currency transaction charges. Its current account balance interest rate is high at 3.25% on current account balances up to £5,000. Check out our Starling Bank review for more information and compare other app-only banks in our article 'Best app-only banks in the UK'.


chase bank cashback

Chase Bank - cashback with no monthly fee

  • Account name - Current Account
  • Current account interest - 1.00%
  • Savings account interest - 4.10%
  • Monthly fee - £0
  • Arranged overdraft rate - N/A
  • Unarranged overdraft fee - N/A
  • Foreign currency cash withdrawal - No fee (cash withdrawal limits apply)
  • Foreign currency debit card payment - No fee
  • Switch incentive - N/A
  • Extras - Round-up spending to the nearest pound and earn 5% AER interest with a round-up account. You can also earn 1% cashback on everyday debit card spending for your first 12 months (max £15 a month). Cashback exceptions apply.

Chase Bank has amassed over 56 million customers in the US and has now joined the UK banking market. Chase is an app-only bank and rivals a number of the existing banks on the market with no monthly fees and no fees from Chase when spending abroad. It also offers customers a number of ways to earn interest with interest on current account balances plus interest on separate Chase Saver accounts. One downside, however, is Chase does not currently offer joint accounts and it is not possible to have an overdraft which means alternative high street current accounts may be a better option if this is something you are looking for. Check out our Chase Bank review for more information and compare it against other app-only banks in our article 'Best app-only banks in the UK'.


virgin money logo

Virgin Money - good for earning current account interest

  • Account name - M Plus Current Account
  • Current account interest - 2.02% on up to £1,000
  • Savings account interest - 2.50% on balances up to £25,000
  • Monthly fee - £0
  • Arranged overdraft rate - 19.90% - 39.90%
  • Unarranged overdraft fee - £20 maximum monthly charge
  • Foreign currency cash withdrawal - No fee
  • Foreign currency debit card payment - No fee
  • Switch incentive - N/A
  • Extras - Fee-free spending and overseas cash withdrawals, plus earn cashback when you spend with your current account

Virgin Money's M Plus Account is a popular choice for those seeking current account interest, with 2.02% interest on balances up to £1,000 every month. Despite the potential to incur a 39.90% charge for using an overdraft - depending on your credit limit and how much you use - an M Plus Account has fee-free overseas spending and cash withdrawals for keen travellers. Find out more on the Virgin Money website.


First Direct logo

First Direct - good for customer service

  • Account name - 1st Account
  • Current account interest - 0%
  • Savings account interest - 7.00% up to a maximum of £300 each month for 12 months with its Regular Saver
  • Monthly fee - £0
  • Arranged overdraft rate - £250 interest-free then 39.90%
  • Unarranged overdraft fee - £20 maximum monthly charge
  • Foreign currency cash withdrawal - No fee
  • Foreign currency debit card payment - No fee
  • Switch incentive - N/A
  • Extras - £250 interest free overdraft plus fee-free spending when abroad

First Direct's 1st Account no longer charges for spending or withdrawing cash abroad meaning customers can now spend abroad and withdraw cash from ATMs fee-free. First Direct's 7.00% interest rate on the Regular Saver is very attractive to new customers and they also has a 'sweep' feature which allows you to set automatic transfers into your linked savings account.


Santander

Santander - good for cashback

  • Account name - Edge Current Account
  • Current account interest - 0%
  • Savings account interest - 7.00% on balances up to £4,000 (includes a 2.50% bonus rate for 12 months)
  • Monthly fee - £3
  • Arranged overdraft rate - 39.94%
  • Unarranged overdraft fee - £0
  • Foreign currency cash withdrawal - No fee except within first 3 working days of opening or transferring to the account when you'll be charged 2.95%
  • Foreign currency debit card payment - No fee except within first 3 working days of opening or transferring to the account when you'll be charged 2.95%
  • Switch incentive - N/A
  • Extras - Earn up to 1% cashback on bills but you need to pay in at least £500 a month and have 2 active direct debits. The cashback is capped at £10 a month for household bills and essential spending. More information can be found in our Santander Edge review.

Despite previously charging 2.95% on foreign currency transactions, customers can now use their card abroad fee-free as long as it is not within 3 working days of opening the account. Additionally, the Santander Edge Current Account has zero unarranged overdraft fees and the potential to earn up to 1% cashback on a range of household bills, supermarket shopping and travel. However, this is capped at £10 for household bills and £10 for essential spending and there is a monthly fee of £3 for the account.


nationwide logo

Nationwide - good for insurance and breakdown cover

  • Account name - FlexPlus Current Account
  • Current account interest - 0%
  • Savings account interest - 3.25% for 12 months on Flex Instant Saver or 6.50% variable with Flex Regular Saver
  • Monthly fee - £13
  • Arranged overdraft rate - 39.90%
  • Unarranged overdraft fee - £0
  • Foreign currency cash withdrawal - No fee
  • Foreign currency debit card payment - No fee
  • Switch incentive - N/A
  • Extras - Worldwide travel insurance, UK and European breakdown cover, mobile phone insurance and access to Flex Instant Saver with 3.25% interest for 12 months or Flex Regular Saver with 6.50% variable interest

Nationwide's FlexPlus Current Account has a monthly fee, which comes in at a noticeable £13, but this gives you access to a range of extras including worldwide travel and UK breakdown cover plus £0 unarranged overdraft fees. It also has zero foreign currency transaction fees, so if you're planning on travelling, the FlexPlus Current Account could be a great option for minimal fees and added insurance for peace of mind.

How to pick the right bank account

Before deciding on a current account, you should consider what each one has to offer across a range of areas to find the one best suited to your needs, taking into account - among other things - the rate of interest, any fees, and any additional account features.

Best interest rates

Ideally, you want a current account that pays interest on the money you've deposited in it and there are a couple of current accounts that offer interest to help your money work harder. Nationwide FlexDirect customers can benefit from 5.00% interest on balances up to £1,500 for the first year, however, you have to pay a minimum of £1,000 a month or the balance will reduce to 1.00%. Next, Starling Bank's Personal Account currently offers 3.25% interest on current account balances up to £5,000 and Virgin Money boasts 2.02% AER on its M Plus Account, but only for balances up to £1,000. Most current accounts also give you access to a savings account from the same provider, so if the interest on the current account isn't enough, check to see if they have a linked savings account with a better interest rate on offer that you could tuck some money into instead. Visit our high interest current account best buy table for more information.

Lowest overdraft rates

Should you ever end up in your overdraft, you want to make sure the fees you incur are as minimal as possible. The majority of current accounts have a high charge for using an overdraft, but digital bank Starling Bank can offer rates as low as 15% on arranged overdrafts for customers with good credit scores on an assumed credit limit of £1,200. If you're concerned about paying off your overdraft, listen to our podcast episode 282 for tips and tricks on how to clear your debt.

Lowest monthly fees

To minimise additional costs, you need to pick a current account with low, or no, monthly fees. There are many that do not charge any fees at all but check the small print, as some do have monthly charges that can eat away at your balance. For example, Nationwide's FlexPlus Account has a £13 monthly fee, which gives you access to a range of extra features such as worldwide travel insurance, but you will still have to pay this fee whether you use the extras or not. You should also thoroughly check if there are fees for additional services, such as replacement cards, going over your overdraft limit, or having insufficient funds to pay any standing orders/direct debits.

Foreign currency fees

If you spend on your debit card when abroad, you may want to consider the kind of fees you could get from foreign currency payments and withdrawals. Plenty of current accounts now tout 0% fees on overseas transactions, but keep an eye out, as some, like NatWest's personal current account, can charge up to 2.75% on cash withdrawals in foreign currency - compared to the 0% fees on Chase Bank's Current Account . Visit our article 'The best ways to take money abroad' for more foreign currency fee tips.

Switching incentives

Many providers offer incentives to switch to their current accounts, which can bag you free money just for joining. Bear in mind that when switching additional terms apply and there is usually a minimum amount that needs to be paid into the account to qualify for the offers. There are currently very few switching offers available but if you live in Northern Ireland you can qualify for £200 if you switch to a Danske Reward, Danske Choice or Danske Freedom current account at Danske Bank. Head to our article on the best current account switching offers, cashback & incentives to see the best switching offers on the market.

Bonuses and extras

Some providers have bonuses and extras that become available when you use their current accounts, such as Nationwide FlexPlus' worldwide travel insurance and UK breakdown cover. Although you should not prioritise these extras over the more important factors, such as interest or overdraft rates, they could help you to make a decision if you're deliberating between a couple of similar accounts. Read our article 'The best packaged bank accounts' for more information.

Additional reviews

We also have a range of articles on other types of accounts, including the best student bank account, the best savings accounts for £100,000, and the best stocks and shares ISAs. You can also check out our list of the best credit cards of the month.

 

If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses or take advantage of any exclusive offers -