NatWest Bank Accounts

What is a Current Account?

What are Current Accounts?

A ‘current account’ is a type of bank account most people use for day-to-day personal finances. They're a secure place to keep money, and allow you to receive money (e.g. a wage from an employer) and transfer money elsewhere (e.g. buying something in a shop).

They're ‘current’ accounts because, generally, the funds they hold are used ‘currently’ i.e. within a given short-term time period (for example, a conventional monthly cycle of receiving a wage and spending money).

While there are other financial products, and of course cash (coins and notes), a current account is generally the central pillar that ties together an individual’s personal finances. In fact, it would be very difficult to participate in typical modern life without a current account.

What’s the difference between a current account and a bank account?

  • A current account is the specific term for the particular type of account described above. However, colloquially in the UK, they are often just referred to as ‘bank accounts’.
  • Banks tend to use the specific term, so as not to confuse with other types of accounts (e.g. it could be said a ‘savings account’ is also a ‘bank account’, but it is different to a ‘current account’).

Are a ‘current account’ and a ‘checking account’ the same thing?

We don’t often talk about ‘checking accounts’ in the UK, but this is common terminology for a current account in the USA, and some other countries. There may be country specific features to these type of accounts, but generally, the fundamental principles are the same.

Joint Current Accounts

Did you know? - You can have a current account shared between two people (joint), alongside current accounts just for personal use (sole).

What will I need to apply for a current account?

What you'll need to apply for a bank account will vary, depending on your circumstances. You'll definitely need to be able to prove who you are and where you live.

Questions about current accounts

Are current accounts free?

Many types of current account do not carry a standard payable fee (e.g. a monthly fee), but some do. However, current accounts can come with additional fees for particular situations and features (e.g. utilising an overdraft, or sending money abroad), so it’s important to take the time to understand these before you apply for any kind of bank account.

What would I get with a current account?

At NatWest, our current accounts come with a Contactless Debit Card, which can be used to spend your money in shops, or online. You will also be given an account number and sort code. The combination of these two numbers can be used by a third party to uniquely identify your bank account (e.g. by your employer, to make sure your wage is sent to the right place).

You'll be able to view and manage your current account via NatWest Online Banking, the NatWest Mobile Banking app, through our branch network or over the phone.

What is a sort code?

A sort code is a number that can be used to identify a bank, or bank branch, where an account is held. In the UK, they generally follow the format ‘XX-XX-XX’, where the ‘X’ values are always numeric (e.g. 01-23-45). They are used alongside account numbers to uniquely identify individual bank accounts.

More beginner guides...

Mortgages for beginners

What are mortgages, how do they work and a host of other useful information.

Learn the credit card basics

How do credit cards work, and should you get one?

Compare bank accounts

What bank accounts can I choose from and which could be right for you?