Switching accounts

You may want to switch your current account because your fees are too high, you are unhappy with the service or your current bank is leaving the market.

When you decide to switch you can either manage the switch yourself or if your current and new provider support it, you can use the Central Bank of Ireland Switching Code. The code is designed to make the process quicker and easier, however not all current account providers use the code and a switch can fail if your account has too much activity on it.

A good place to start if you are thinking about switching, is our current account Money Tool. You can compare each bank’s fees and other details to help you decide which is the best option for you. You should also visit each bank’s website for full details about their services.

Using the switching code

Step 1: Getting ready to switch

Before you open your new account you should think about what you require from your new provider. Do you need access to a physical branch for cash lodgement services or is your banking all done online? Understanding how you use your account with your current provider can help guide you in choosing the best option for you. The next step is to contact the provider who best suits your needs. As you are opening a new account, you will have to provide proof of ID and address and you may also need to provide bank statements from your old account.

Step 2: Pick a new provider

Your new bank will supply you with a switching pack in branch or on their website. This will have information on all the current accounts they offer, as well as a step-by-step guide to switching. You should also receive:

  • A copy of their terms and conditions
  • A guide to their fees, charges and interest rates
  • An account transfer form
  • Contact details for making an appointment, if it’s needed

If you have an existing overdraft facility and wish to transfer it, you should discuss this with your new bank as you will need to make an application. If you can’t transfer your existing overdraft, you may need to clear your balance before you can switch to your new bank account.

The switching date is one of the most important things to think about. It is the date agreed between you and your new bank for the switching process to start. Your new bank must have your new account up and running within 10 working days of the agreed switching date.

You have the option to keep your old account open or close it, but if you keep it open you may have to pay fees and stamp duty on your old account and cards. You must let your new bank know which option you choose before you switch.

You should pick a switching date during the month when the activity on your account is low. For example, you should avoid selecting a date on or near when you get paid, when your mortgage or rent payments come out or when there are a lot of direct debits or standing orders

Complete the forms in the switching pack and make sure to sign all of these as they are used to inform your old bank that you want to switch.

Top Tip

One of the most important parts of the switching process is notifying your employer and anyone else who lodges money into your account, such as social welfare, that you are switching banks. Provide them with your new account details to make sure any future payments will go to your new bank account.
You must complete this step yourself as your new bank can’t do it for you. The switching pack will have sample letters you can use to inform your employer about your new bank details.

You should stop using any bank card or cheque books on your old account from the agreed switching date and make sure that any cheques you have recently issued have cleared. Return any unused cheques to your old bank as you may be entitled to a stamp duty refund.

Step 3: Switching

Your new bank will send your completed switching form to your old bank. Your old bank will then notify any company you have a direct debit with of your new bank details so they can update their records. It is worthwhile also contacting any company you pay by direct debit yourself to ensure they have your new details on file.

If you have direct debits outside Ireland, you will have to notify these providers yourself. Likewise, if you have any recurring payments on your debit card such as music streaming or gym membership you will have to notify these companies of your new card details. These don’t count as direct debits and won’t be moved over to your new account as part of the switching process.

Your old bank will send your new bank a list of your standing orders and they will set these up to go from your new account, but again it is a good idea to double-check these have been set up correctly and will be paid on time.

The balance in your old account will be transferred as part of the switching process, but you may need to leave enough money in your old account to cover any fees that you owe. Remember to keep enough money in your old and new accounts to cover any payments that are due to be taken and don’t use your debit card on your old account during this period as it can delay the account closing.

Step 4: New account is up and running

Depending on what option you chose, your new account will be fully operational and your old account will either be closed or left open. Each bank has its own process for closing an account and you may need to either send a written instruction to them or contact them directly via online, telephone or in branch to close your account. If you are closing a joint account you will need to go into the branch. You will receive a debit card for your new account and you can destroy the cards for your old account.

If you did not register for internet banking when opening your new account, make sure to do this when the new account is up and running. Online banking is a convenient way to check that all your bills are being paid correctly and your salary is getting paid into your new account.

If a direct debit or payment is due on the switching date, this can delay the process. A handy way to be sure this doesn’t happen is to go through your bank statements and/or online banking for the previous three or four months and make sure nothing is due to be paid on the date you have picked.

DIY switching

Step 1: Getting ready to switch

Before you open your new account you should look through your bank statements and make a list of all your regular payments and what date of the month they are due, this may include direct debits for your electricity/gas and mortgage, standing orders for your rent and also recurring debit card payments such as streaming services. You should also note any payments that come into your accounts such as your salary, social welfare or any regular transfers from friends or family. This is also a good time to think about what you require from your new provider. Do you need access to a physical branch for cash lodgement services or is your banking all done online? Understanding how you use your account with your current provider can help guide you in choosing the best option for you.

Once you have made this list you should work out what time of the month is quietest on your account and therefore best to make your switch.  The next step is to contact the provider who best suits your needs

Step 2: Pick a new provider

Your next step will be to contact the new provider you wish to switch to for information on how to set up an account. This may be possible to do online or via an app, or you may have to make an appointment with the bank to set the account up in person. If you contact your preferred provider they will be able to advise you on their own process.

If you have an existing overdraft facility and wish to transfer it to your new account, you should discuss this with your new bank as you will need to make a separate application for this. If you can’t transfer your existing overdraft, you may need to clear your balance before you can switch to your new bank account.

As you are opening a new account, you will have to provide proof of ID and address.

Step 3: Switching

Once your new account is open you will be able to begin your switch, it’s best to do this at a quiet time on your account. Go through the list of payments in and out that you made in Step 2 and contact them to have your bank details updated. For direct debits you will need your new BIC and IBAN and for debit card payments you will need your new card details. If you have any outgoing standing orders such as your rent payment, you will have to set these up with your new bank, this can usually be done online. Be sure to also send your new BIC and IBAN to anyone who pays into your account such as your employer.

Top Tip

Direct debits can take up to 14 days to process and so even after you’ve updated your details, some payments may still come out of your old account. If a payment is returned unpaid you may have to pay a late payment fee and it could impact your credit rating if this was a loan repayment. To ensure all payments go through, be sure to keep money in both your new and old accounts until you’ve verified all payments are going into and coming out of your new current account.

Step 4: New account is up and running

You have now completed your switch. Once you’ve verified that all payments have moved to your new account, you can transfer the balance from your old account to your new one and close your old account. Each bank has its own process for closing an account and you may need to either send a written instruction to them or go into a branch to close your account. If you are closing a joint account you will need to go into the branch. You will receive a debit card for your new account and you can destroy the cards for your old account. You may also need to keep a small amount in your old account prior to closing to pay any outstanding fees. Your own bank will be able to advise you of their individual requirements.

Other things to think about if your bank is leaving the market

Central Credit Register

If you plan to apply for a loan, mortgage or other credit in the future, then it is very likely that a provider will run a credit check on you through the Central Credit Register. If you have missed payments or have an unresolved debt with your previous provider or any other provider, then your application may be declined. If your previous provider has left Ireland then it may be difficult to resolve an issue that may not be your fault or inaccuracy on your record. We would recommend that you request a copy of your credit history before you close your account. This will allow you to deal with any issues you may have. You can request a copy of your credit history online, generally for free, for more information, see our Money Hub

Statements

If your bank is leaving Ireland, then it may be difficult to get old statements for previous years. You may need to have a copy for any future credit applications, particularly if you are applying for a mortgage. We would recommend before closing your account that you request a copy of your old statements either online or through your local branch.

Credit cards

If your bank is leaving Ireland, then you will most likely need to transfer your credit card to another provider if you wish to continue availing of this form of credit.  If you wish to avoid paying stamp duty twice be sure to request a letter of closure. When you give this letter to your new card issuer, they should ensure that you are not charged stamp duty again for that year. If you close a credit card account mid-year and don’t open another one – you will still be liable for the full €30 stamp duty.

Last updated on 6 May 2022