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Setting up a bank account to accept Universal Credit payments

If you don’t have a bank account – now is definitely the time to get one!

Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country and when you need to make a claim, you will be paid once a month in arrears, directly into a bank account. To prepare for these changes, we’d suggest setting up a bank account now.

The simplest account is called a basic bank account. They are best if you haven’t had an account before or have had money problems in the past. They don’t provide a cheque book or overdraft, so you can’t run up debts. With these accounts, you can:

  • have wages, salary, benefits, pensions and tax credits paid straight into your account
  • pay cheques in for free
  • get money out at Post Offices and cash machines
  • pay your bills by Direct Debit or standing order
  • use bank counters to pay money in, take it out or check your account balance.

You can open a basic bank account at any high street bank. If the first bank you talk to sounds confusing, try another one – you’re the customer, so you can choose where you bank! If you try several banks but are refused an account, talk to our Money Advice & benefits team. It may be that you are eligible for a Fee-free basic bank accounts. These are designed for people who don’t have a bank account or don’t qualify for a standard current account.

This could be because you haven’t been able to build up a credit history or maybe you have a poor credit history because of money problems and want to use a fee-free basic bank account until you qualify for a standard current account again. Fee-free basic bank accounts offer fewer services than a standard current account and you can’t use an overdraft.

To open any type of bank account, you will need to prove your identity and (usually) your address. To check what documents you need or find out more about basic bank accounts, visit The Money Advice Service website.

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