Accessing your bank account after going bankrupt

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

When you're declared bankrupt, your bank account may be frozen immediately. You may not be able to use it again and might find you have problems getting another bank account.

This page explains how you can access a bank account after you've been declared bankrupt.

Can you keep using your old bank account?

Some banks may let you keep using your existing bank account, but this might only happen after they've frozen it for some time while they speak to the official receiver.

If you want to keep using your existing bank account, you should ask your bank whether this is possible. Bear in mind that they don't have to say yes, and that the official receiver doesn't have any influence over their decision.

Opening a new bank account

If you haven’t been declared bankrupt, don’t open a new bank account yet. You should wait until the official receiver has decided if they’ll take any of the money in your other accounts to pay your creditors. If you open a new account before you’re declared bankrupt, the official receiver will freeze your new account as well. The bank might also close the account.

If you’ve already been declared bankrupt, you can apply for a new bank or building society account. The bank or building society may ask if you are bankrupt. They will decide whether or not you can open a new account. Even if the bank agree to you opening an account, they might give you some conditions, such as not giving you access to an overdraft.

Do you need to tell the official receiver about a new bank account?

You don't need to tell the official receiver or bankruptcy trustee about any new bank account that you open after being declared bankrupt. The only exception to this is if they specifically ask you for this information.

However, you do need to tell the official receiver or trustee about any money in your account that is more than you need for reasonable living expense. They can claim some or all of the extra money to pay towards your creditors.

If you've been refused a bank account

You may find that no bank will agree to you opening an account with them. If this applies to you, you have three main options:

  • apply for a basic bank account

  • join a credit union

  • get a prepaid debit card

The best solution for you will depend on what kind of income you have and the kinds of payments you want to make.

Basic bank accounts

Basic bank accounts are very simple, so they don’t provide a cheque book or overdraft. You can:

  • have wages, salary, benefits, pensions and tax credits paid straight into your account

  • pay cheques in for free (as long as they’re not in foreign currency)

  • get money out at Post Offices and cash machines

  • pay your bills by direct debit or standing order

  • use bank counters to pay money in, take it out or check your account balance

More about basic bank accounts

Joining a credit union

A credit union can give you most of the services you’d get from a bank account - for example, you can set up direct debits and standing orders. Joining a credit union could also help you budget and save money. You might have to pay a fee to open a credit union account. 

You can find your nearest credit union on the find your credit union website.

Prepaid debit card

Prepaid debit cards give you a way to deal with making payments to other people. They can be used in the same way that an ordinary debit or credit card can be used. This includes:

  • paying bills

  • transferring money

  • taking money out of an ATM

With a prepaid card you're limited to spending only the amount of money that you put on the card. You can normally 'top up' the cards with cash at a Post Office or Paypoint machine.

Many prepaid cards charge a fee for different kinds of transactions, so bear this in mind when you're deciding whether to get one.

You can find your nearest Paypoint outlet on the Paypoint website.

Next steps

Check how bankruptcy affects your existing bank account, savings and pension

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Page last reviewed on 16 March 2021