Getting At Your Cash

If you usually need to get at your money soon after paying cheques in, you might be frustrated by most building society accounts - commonly it takes seven working days for cheques paid in to clear. This delay happens because most building societies don't belong to the 'clearing system' and have themselves to pay into a bank which is a member of the system. If your account is with a bank (all the big banks and several others) or one of the few building societies (Abbey National and Nationwide Anglia) which belong to the clearing system, cheques that you pay in should normally take only about three days to clear though you should check what's usual for the particular bank or society before you decide to open an account.

It's quite feasible to run a current account without ever visiting a branch, but once in a while you may want to do business in person - for example, if you're seeking a loan, or trying to sort out a problem with your account - so it's usually sensible to open an account at a branch that's conveniently close to home or where you work. If you move around a lot, a large branch network may be important to you. The major banks have far more branches than even the largest building societies - for example, National Westminster Bank has over 3,000 branches compared with around 900 for Nationwide Anglia Building

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Paying Bills

There are several ways you can arrange for paying bills. A standing order is useful for regular bills of a fixed amount - such as local authority rates instalments. But for bills which vary in size - such as mortgage repayments - direct debits can be more convenient because the person you're paying debits your account for whatever's due without your having to alter the amount.

Some accounts let you pay bills using a cash machine. Initially, you'll have to give your branch details of who is to be paid and their account number. When you want to pay, you call up the 'screen' for that bill and... see: Paying Bills

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