Opening a bank account
Financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and building societies provide a range of accounts. There are generally two 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 National Consumer Agency 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 National Consumer Agency (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.
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 National Consumer Agency 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 (CCPC).