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Current Accounts in Banks

Overview

The current account is the normal account for "day-to-day" banking. It is the type of account into which your salary is typically paid. With a current account you charge items to your account, pay your bills or get cash from an ATM. For most people and businesses, the current account is as essential as the phone, though it may not be used as often.

Banks normally have an introductory package for your first current account.  This account may have limited or restricted facilities.  As ones relationship with the bank develops, more facilities may be offered.

As they open an account for you, banks are obliged to provide you with a framework contract, which includes a detailed description of the account facilities and the terms & conditions applying.  There are certain obligations for the bank and certain obligations for you, and by signing the account-opening document both yourself and the bank are committed to the framework contract.  Make sure that you retain your framework contract.

Current account charges are separately dealt with here.

Current Account Packages

Current account "packages" are assembled by banks to suit the needs of their customers. Some elements of the package carry a risk for the bank. At the discretion of the bank, these elements may not be made available to a first-time account-holder until he/she establishes a track-record.

A current account "package" normally includes some or all of the following:-

Service (click for more details)

Typical use

Need to establish track record

Government stamp duty

Ireland only or international usage

ATM Card

Withdraw cash from ATM machine. Limits on the amount drawn in one transaction and/or in one day may apply.

ATM card may also be used as an identifier for certain over-the-counter transactions at your bank.

No. All cash transactions are checked at the time of withdrawal

€2.50 per annum

Normally International. Before using abroad, confirm with your bank that it has international usage.

Debit Card

Used to charge goods and/or services to your current account.

Laser was the dominant brand of debit card until recently.  Banks are increasingly offering debit cards bearing Visa or Maestro brands.

Yes. You may not be able to get a cheque book unless you have a track record with a bank.

€2.50 per annum

Normally International. Before using abroad, confirm with your bank that it has international usage. Not as widely accepted abroad as credit cards.

Combo card

A card that combines the functionality of ATM card and Debit Card

Yes

€5 per annum

As above.

Cheque Book

A cheque book allows you to write cheques. Normally, you would not write cheques to pay for goods over the counter - they delay the process, and are less acceptable in many cases- it is better to use a debit card Cheques are useful for paying occasional bills where the payee does not accept cards. School fees are a typical example. Sadly, many practitioners in medical, dentistry, and related fields do not accept cards - so cheques or cash must be tendered.

Cheques are heavily used for business-to-business transactions.

Personal cheque books normally have 25 cheques or less. Business cheque books may have substantially more. Business cheques may be printed in rolls or fanfolds for computerised printing.

Yes

€0.50 per cheque. In some banks this charge is payable when the cheque-book is issued. Other banks apply the charge when a cheque is presented

Must not be used outside Ireland

Direct Debit

Direct debits are used for recurrent payments which are charged to your account. These may be for varying amounts (E.g. phone bills, electricity bills, etc) or fixed amounts (insurance premiums, subscriptions, etc.). The payment is initiated at the request of the payee through his bank

No

None

Ireland only. A version extending to Eurozone was launched November 2009, and will eventually supersede the Irish Direct Debit

Standing Orders

Standing orders are used for regular payments of fixed amounts. The payment is initiated by your bank by reference to a diary. Typically used for payment of rents, parent funding of students, payment of insurance premiums, payment of charitable donations.

No

None

Ireland only.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)

This is the means by which your employer pays salary/wages into your account. You can create an EFT if you use an online banking system to make a payment.

No

None

Normally Ireland only

Some banks offer EFT to other Euro countries from online systems. These will be created by a separate system from the normal EFT

Lodgements

Lodgments and Giros are the means by which paper transactions (Cheques, Drafts, etc.) are credited to your account

No

None

Ireland only