Opening a Bank Account - MABS Investigates
24th June 2020
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In MABS we receive a lot of great questions. Questions that we know many people want to ask, but don't know who to ask or where to start. This week's question is how do you go about opening a bank account and what are the basic banking options.
You may have noticed as the shops start to re-open that many retailers are asking customers to use cards and not cash for payment. This measure is in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) by reducing the incidence and potential of physical contact. This is just one of the many measures in place to help to protect us all during the current pandemic.
But what if you do not have a card. Perhaps you do not currently have a current bank account and wish to open an account now to help make your shopping easier? Maybe you previously had a bank account that is closed, or you have never had an account? This week we look at the requirements for opening a bank account, bank charges and review basic bank account options.
If you currently have a bank account and would like to review your bank charges, you can find further information in our previous edition of MABS investigates available on the blog here.
Jargon busting - let's explain bank terms before we begin
- Automatic teller machine: commonly known as cash machines or ‘the hole in the wall’
- Contactless payment: This is when we pay for goods without using our debit card pins and by ‘tapping’ our cards on the payment machine (or using our smartphones – Apple Pay, Google Pay, Fitbit and Garmin Pay). The upper limit or maximum value of a purchase using a contactless payment by card is €50. This was recently increased from €30 in response to COVID-19 as a way of enabling more contactless payments.
- Direct Debits: This allows us to set a regular payment agreement with your creditors. A direct debit allows your bank to pay your creditors as you have agreed, mostly used for bill payments, e.g. gas or electricity.
- Standing orders: This allows us to set a regular payment agreement with your creditors. However, a standing order differs to a direct debit as you set the amount and dates for payments to be made.
Opening a bank account? What do you need to do?
Depending on the bank or provider there are several ways you can open a current account. You can open an account:
- In a branch (During COVID-19 restrictions all banks require you to make an appointment to meet with a bank representative to open an account)
- Through a mobile app
- Over the phone and by post
When you are opening an account, you will need to provide proof of your identity and permanent address.
It is worth noting that if you are opening an account in a branch you will usually need one document as proof of ID and another document as proof of address. However, if you are opening an account online or by phone, you may need to provide two documents for proof of ID and address.
1. Photo Identification
Acceptable forms of proof of identify are:
- Your current national passport or
- Your current valid Irish, UK or European driving licence (with photo) or
- Your EU National Identity Card
- Some banks may accept your Public Service Card. However, you may also have to provide your birth certificate as proof of date of birth, as the Public Service Card does not have your date of birth displayed.
All the above must be in your own name.
2. Proof of Address
Some acceptable forms of proof of address include:
- A utility bill (dated within the last six months)
- A bank or building society statement issued in the last six months
- Your Determination of Tax Credits for the current year
- Your original household/health or motor insurance documents (if less than 12 months old)
- A copy of your Tax Credit Certificate (TCC)
- A letter from your employer or licensed employment agency stating that you have recently arrived in Ireland and have started work but cannot yet provide evidence of your Irish address (and you will have to provide evidence of your address at a later date)
Your proof of address usually can’t be more than six months old but it may be 12 months for insurance documents and mortgage statements.
The name and address on your proof of address must match the details of your new account.
What if you have a problem opening an account?
If you are having trouble opening an account there are some steps you can take:
- Ask to speak to an experienced member of staff or a manager and ask why you are being refused an account.
- If you are not satisfied with their answer or reason you are being refused an account, you first need to make a formal complaint to the bank or financial institution. To do this you should submit a letter to their complaints department outlining your situation.
- If you are still unsatisfied by their response to your formal complaint you can escalate the matter to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.
- The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission can also provide guidance and information on progressing your complaint. More information is available here.
What kind of account is best for you to open?
If currently do not have a bank account, you may qualify for a Basic Bank account with free banking. According to Citizens Information, a basic account has been made available as a result of the Government’s Strategy for Financial Inclusion and National Payments Plan, you can find out more about basic bank accounts here.
Eligibility Criteria for a basic payment account
The Basic Payment Account is available to all customers over the age of 18 who are legally resident in the European Union (EU). It is available to customers who don’t already hold a payment account or current account in the Republic of Ireland.
Only one basic payment account can be held per customer.
What features do you get with a Basic Bank Account?
- Online banking, Mobile banking and Telephone banking – bank whenever you want, wherever you want
- Cash and cheque lodgment
- Your Determination of Tax Credits for the current year
- Cash withdrawal
- Visa Debit Card
- Bank statements and transaction history – see your account balances, bank statements online when you want to access them
- Ways to pay bills and other payments – Top up your mobile phone, pay your utility bills by direct debit, set up standing orders , Bill payments online and over the phone
- Credit transfers
What restrictions are there for a basic payment account?
Most providers will restrict the amount of lodgments to the Basic Current Account over a period of 12 month, meaning the total amount of money paid into your account each year is no more than €19,240 (the national minimum wage).
In general, with basic accounts there are:
- No cheque book
- No overdraft facility
- Only one account can be held per customer
With this account, you will not have to pay any maintenance or day-to day-transactions fees for 12 months from when you open the account. Some charges may apply. We have set out the charges that may apply in the table below.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is an independent statutory body with a mandate to enforce competition and consumer protection law in Ireland. The CCPC website provides a comparison tool for all financial products including current account. This tool was used to identify the bank charges that apply in Ireland and to create the comparison table below. If you’d like to do a bit of investigating of your own you can find the tool here.
If you’ve just opened a basic bank account and you are wondering how to manage your money, then check out our MABS leaflet on 'Manage your money with a Basic Bank Account' for useful tips and information.
If you have questions or would like to share your money saving tips, follow us on social media and get in touch.
You can contact your local office here, chat through our online chat or call the MABS Helpline on 0761 07 2000, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm or you can check the MABS News Feed for further updates and guidance.
Disclaimer: While every effort is made to make sure this information is accurate and correct, we strongly recommend that you do your own research and make your own informed decision.