How to switch your current account
Fed up with your bank's pesky fees and charges for managing your own money? Then switch current account and save yourself a pretty penny and keep more of your hard-earned cash in your own pocket.
We're notoriously bad at switching banking products in Ireland so it's no wonder mortgage rates and banking fees and charges here are so high.
But there's still good value to be found if you're prepared to switch.
If you're sick of opening up your current account fees and charges statement every quarter to see all the money that's going to be taken from your account, then look at switching current account provider as there's never been more choice.
Switch Code versus DIY
There are two ways that you can switch account. You can use the Central Bank's switching code or you can simply do it yourself. Each has its pros and cons which we'll discuss.
Regardless of which process you use, it's important to note that if you have an overdraft with your existing bank you’ll need to make sure that your new bank is happy to give you one too. Otherwise you’ll need to clear your current overdraft before switching.
Choosing a provider
The first thing to consider is which provider to switch to.
There are currently nine providers offering current account services.
Each bank has its pros and cons.
Some providers like An Post and N26 don't offer overdrafts while some don't offer mobile payments like FitBit Pay or Garmin Pay. Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB charge a flat monthly fee for their accounts, after which all your day-to-day banking is free. AIB on the other hand charges for almost every type of transaction. So you need to carefully consider what it is you value in a current account.
Use our handy current account comparison service to quickly compare the different account features and charges from all of Ireland’s account providers. Alternatively, check out our more in-depth article on how all the current accounts available in Ireland compare to see which one is right for you.
How do I switch current account?
Using The Switching Code
Contact your new provider: Contact your new bank to let them know you want to switch your current account to them. Your new bank will then supply you with a switching pack, either by post or in branch, which will contain all the information about your new bank that you'll need. As you're opening a new account, you'll need to provide proof of ID and address. Most banks will only accept your passport as proof of ID and it must be in date.
Pick a switch date: You’ll need to agree a date with your new bank for the switching process to start – this is called the switch date. This date should be a time during the month when there’s the least amount of activity on your account so that you don’t miss any Direct Debits or payments (for most people this is 10 to 20 days after payday). If payments are going out of your account while your new bank tries to switch your account, the switch will usually fail.
Complete and return all forms in switch pack: Among other things, your new bank will ask you to complete an account transfer form. It will then send this form to your old bank. A key part of the switch code is that your old bank contacts any company you have a Direct Debit with so that they have your new details. Your old bank is also supposed to send a list of any standing orders you have to your new bank so it can set them up for you. In reality this rarely works smoothly. Sometimes companies won't accept new account details from anyone other than the account holder. Other times payments get missed. So it's likely you'll need to chase up on this yourself. Any money in your old account will be transferred over to your new account for you. You’ll need to confirm with your current bank whether you want to fully close your account or still keep it open. Remember to have enough money in your old account to cover any fees which might be due.
- Downtime: Between your old account being closed and your new bank account being activated, there might be a period of two or three days when you'll have no account. Your new provider will advise you of this. So remember to take out some cash if you think you'll need it.
- Start using your new account: Under the code, your new account must be up and running within 10 working days of the switch date you selected and your new bank will send you out your new debit card in the post a few days after. In many cases, you can start using your card online or by phone before your physical card arrives.
- Download your new mobile app: When you get your new card, download your new account provider's mobile app and register for their online banking. Remember you'll also need to set up mobile payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay again.
- Update your employer: Update your employer or anyone else who pays money into your account (such as Social Welfare) with your new bank account details as your new bank cannot do this for you.
- Online shopping: If you're a fan of online shopping, your old card details will be stored with several sites. Remember to update your banking details with any retailers you shop with regularly online.
Watch outs with the switch code
The switch code has several failings which you need to be aware of.
1. Many payments these days for things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, gym memberships, GoMo, and Spotify aren't Direct Debits - they're what's called recurring payments, which are linked to your debit card number (as opposed to your bank account number).
These types of payments fall outside of the switching code so this means it is up to you to change these yourself (this can usually be done relatively easily online though).
2. If you have Direct Debits outside Ireland, you'll also have to notify these providers yourself.
3. It's very common for Direct Debits to be missed as part of the switching code process. Your old bank will usually only communicate your new account details once, and it won't be checking up on whether Vodafone, Sky, Electric Ireland or the VHI, etc. has your details updated. It's highly recommended you contact any company you pay by Direct Debit yourself to ensure they have your new details on file.
4. If there's too much activity on your account at the time the switch is due to take place, it will usually fail. This may not be communicated to you properly, or at least immediately, meaning you may return your switch pack only to find out a week or two later that nothing has progressed.
Doing It Yourself
- Pick a new provider: Most providers now allow you to open an account within minutes online or through their mobile app. You'll be asked to take a selfie as proof of ID and upload a pic of your passport and a recent bill. You'll immediately be given your new Iban and your debit card will be posted out within a few days. However if you have a non-EU passport or wish to open a joint account, you may need to do it in branch.
- Register: Download your new bank's mobile app and register for its online banking. Set up Google Pay or Apple Pay again if you are a user of these.
- Make note of payments: Make a note of all payments on your old account - this includes Direct Debits, Standing Orders, recurring payments, and credits into your account (e.g. wages, social welfare).
- Update: Update your employer and social welfare with your new account details. And update any company you pay by Direct Debit. In most cases you should be able to update Direct Debit payment details online. You can set up Standing Orders again yourself through your new bank's online banking. If you struggle with this, pop into your new bank's branch and they should be able to help.
- Close account: Once you're happy all payments have been moved across, close your previous account. The process to do this may vary. You may be able to do it in branch or online. In some cases you may have to write a letter. But sure to keep any money in your account to cover any fees that might be due.
What’s the best value current account?
The best value current account for you will depend on several factors such as how often you’ll use your account and whether you prefer to make payments in cash or by card.
Whether you want access to a branch network or features like an overdraft facility and mobile payments like FitBit Pay or Garmin Pay will need to be factored into your decision too.
You may also want to consider which bank has the best app and online offering. Read here our review on all the main banks' mobile apps.
If you do all of your banking online and prefer card payments over cash then a digital alternative might suit your needs best. We carried out an in-depth comparison of the two most popular digital banks, N26 and Revolut in this blog post.
You can learn about the features and benefits of all the different current accounts on offer in this podcast where we take a deep dive into current accounts.
How much can I save by switching current account?
If you're a medium account user who makes one contactless transaction a day, five chip and pin transactions, three ATM withdrawals and five online transactions a month, and who has 10 Direct Debits or standing orders presented to your account each month, you could save up to €100 a year in fees by switching to the cheapest current account on the market. More if you use your account more often.
Take a look at our other personal finance guides
Did you find this guide useful? If so, don’t forget to check out our full range of personal finance guides. Consider taking a look at the following:
- Learn all about how to apply for a tax refund in this guide.
- Do you shop online frequently? Make sure you’re shopping online safely and securely with this guide.
- In this guide we give you the lowdown on all the basics you need to know about pensions.