Once you've picked the best bank account for you and you're happy you can open and manage it the way that you like, all you need is a valid ID and proof of address to open a new account or switch over. If you're applying online (by clicking through from our table, for instance), the provider should talk you through exactly what you need to do, including if you want to close an old account when you switch.
There are a few things to watch out for when opening an account. First, be aware that when you apply the provider will run a credit check. To maximise the chances of your application being accepted, you'll want to know what your credit score is and, if necessary, improve it.
Second, make sure that you are actually eligible. This means seeing whether you're the right age (usually 18+), in the right country (some deals may not be available in Northern Ireland or Scotland, for instance) and have the right income. For some accounts, you will need to make minimum pay-ins every month, which is usually covered by a minimum income requirement. If you apply for an account without checking these things first, your application may be rejected and your credit rating will be negatively impacted as a result.
You should not need to set up or switch any direct debits or standing orders which were on your old account, provided your new bank is part of the Current Account Switch Service. Under this scheme, your regular payments should get moved over automatically, and in the unlikely event that one does get lost, the switch guarantee means you shouldn’t have to pay the price.
The switch service does not take into account how many direct debits and standing orders you have, however, so if your new account requires a certain minimum amount, you'll have to ensure that you have sufficient automated payments in place yourself. Likewise, if certain account rewards rely on you getting paperless statements, you will likely have to turn these off yourself as well, or risk missing out.
So, there are a few things to look out for when opening a new account or switching your current account. The process itself should be fairly easy, and can be very lucrative if you find the right account for you.