Opening a bank account
This page tells you about the main types of bank account and what to consider when you are choosing an account. It also describes how to open an account.
If you switch to a new account, you can ask the banks to manage the changeover or you can choose to do this yourself and set up your new direct debits and standing orders.
Types of accounts
The two main types of bank accounts are current accounts and deposit accounts. The differences between accounts include the services available, the amount of interest paid and the access you have to the account.
Current accounts are offered by banks, credit unions and An Post. You can use a current account to manage your money day-to-day. A current account allows you to:
- Pay your bills by Direct Debit or standing order
- Receive automated payments such as salary, wages or benefits
- Transfer money in a branch, by telephone or through a mobile or online banking service
- Pay for things with a debit card or a digital wallet
- Withdraw money from ATM machines
- Keep track of your spending
- Access an overdraft (short-term borrowing through your current account)
Student current account
Many banks offer a specific student account and some provide an interest-free overdraft up to an agreed amount.
You can use the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission's (CCPC) financial comparisons tool to compare student current accounts.
Basic bank account
If you do not have a bank account, you can open a basic bank account. A basic bank account is a type of current account that does not charge fees for everyday banking in the first year. Read more about basic bank accounts.
A deposit account allows you to build up savings and you can earn interest on this money. Deposit accounts are offered by banks and credit unions. They are sometimes called savings accounts.
For some accounts, you make deposits at regular times, usually monthly, and these are called regular savings accounts.
Before you open a deposit account, you should know what rate of interest you can earn on your savings. If you earn interest on savings then you may have to pay a tax on the interest called Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).
You should also find out how you can access your money if you need it. Some deposit accounts may have restrictions on how soon or how often you can withdraw money.
A deposit account is not your only option – you can save money in other ways, for example, through State Savings.
How to choose a bank account
Before opening a bank account, you should think about how you use your account and what features you want:
- Review your banking habits. Check back over your records and count how many times you make each of the following transactions: cash withdrawals, bill payments, debit card purchases, contactless payments, money transfers, in-branch cashier transactions and non-EU transactions.
- Know how you make your transactions. Check whether you make most banking transactions using ATMs, online or in-branch.
- Decide how you want to deal with your bank. You might like dealing with a person in a branch, so choosing a bank you can easily get to will be an important factor. If you prefer the convenience of internet and mobile banking, you should make sure you are happy with the online and mobile services of your chosen bank.
Make sure you understand all the terms, conditions and fees of the account before you sign up. You can check the CCPC’s jargon buster for terms that you do not understand.
Check what fees are charged. There may be maintenance fees that are charged regularly to keep the account open. Maintenance fees may include certain types, or a certain number, of transactions each month.
There may also be fees for specific services or transactions, for example:
- ATM withdrawal fees
- Debit card purchase fees (charged when you use your debit card to pay for goods in a shop or get cash back)
- Credit transfers
- Direct debit set up or cancellation
- Standing order setup, amendment or cancellation
- Overdraft fees
- Non-euro transaction fees (charges for using your debit card in countries outside of the Euro-zone)
- Lost card fees
- Duplicate statement fees
- Charges for refused Direct Debits and standing orders
Before you open your account, the bank should give you a fee information document. This document shows the most important services offered on the account and any related fees that you might have to pay.
Your bank must also give you a statement of fees at least once a year. This statement explains the fees incurred on your bank account and gives information on the interest rates applied to your account.
The CCPC provides online Money Tools that you can use to compare the accounts that are available:
How to open a bank account
To open a bank account you usually apply in a branch or online.
Before you open a bank account, you have to provide proof of your identity and verify your address. If you are opening a joint account, you both need to fill in the application and show 2 sets of documents for proof of identity and proof of address.
If you apply online, you still need to provide your documents. Most banks need hard-copy forms of documentation to be submitted in-branch or by post after you have completed your online application.
The CCPC has some helpful tips on opening a bank account.