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Opening and switching a bank account

Information

Financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and building societies provide a range of accounts. There are generally 2 main categories of account; a current account and a deposit account:

  • A current account allows you to make day-to-day transactions (for example, paying a bill or getting your salary paid directly to the account). These are offered only by banks and building societies
  • A deposit account allows you to build up savings and you may earn interest on this money. These are offered by most financial institutions.

Some accounts offer you free services, but this depends on the type of account you have. For example, with some banks, you may have to keep an amount of money in your account at all times.

If you earn interest on savings then you may have to pay a tax on the interest called Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has a useful tool which compares the costs and benefits of various financial products.

Opening a bank account

When you open a current account you should be aware of the services the account offers. You should also find out what the fees and charges for the account are. You can get more detailed information on what to ask about when deciding on a current account from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission – see 'Where to apply' below.

When you open a deposit account you should know what rate of interest you may earn on your savings. You should also find out how you can access your money should you need it. A deposit account is not your only option – you can save money in other ways, for example, through An Post.

A financial institution must establish your identity and verify your address before you can open a bank account.

Switching your account

You may want to switch your account to another financial institution because:

  • Your circumstances may have changed and you may have different needs from an account
  • You may have found an account that offers you a better deal
  • You may be unhappy with the level of service that your bank is providing
  • You may be unhappy with the fees your bank is charging

If you decide to switch your account you can get information to help you decide and there are rules governing the process.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has a personal current account cost comparison that may help you to see whether you can get a better deal from another financial institution.

If you decide to switch your account, the Central Bank has issued a code of conduct on the switching of current accounts with credit institutions (pdf). All credit institutions (banks and building societies) in Ireland must comply with the code.

Under the code all banks and building societies must provide a switching pack to their customers. This contains a description of all of the current accounts currently being offered to new customers, as well as a step-by-step guide to what you need to do when switching.

Your new bank or building society must have your new account up and running within 10 working days of the switching date - this is the date agreed between you and your new bank or building society for the process to start. You will be given the option to keep your old account, or to close it. You must let your new bank know before you switch.

If you keep your old account open you may have to pay charges on this account and stamp duty on your cards, even if you no longer use that account.

You can get detailed information on switching accounts from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Where to apply

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Bloom House
PO Box 12585
Railway Street
Dublin 1
Ireland

Opening Hours:- Lines open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm
Tel:(01) 402 5555
Locall:1890 432 432
Fax:(01) 402 5501
Homepage: http://www.ccpc.ie

Central Bank of Ireland

Financial Regulation
PO Box 559
Dublin 1
Ireland

Tel:(01) 224 6000
Locall:1890 777 777
Fax:(01) 671 6561
Homepage: http://www.centralbank.ie/regulation/Pages/home.aspx
Email: enquiries@centralbank.ie

Page edited: 24 October 2016

Language

Gaeilge

Related Documents

  • Protection of consumers of financial services
    Legislation exists that regulates financial institutions dealings with consumers. Find out what your rights are as a consumer of financial services
  • Interest on loans and savings
    If you borrow money you will be charged interest. If you save money you will earn interest. Find out about the different terms used for interest charged or earned.
  • Borrowing money
    Consumers who borrow money are protected by legislation. Information on types of credit, getting the right loan for your needs and your right to privacy as a financial consumer.

Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.