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Services offered by banks and building societies

  • Banks and building societies offer us two main types of service: they look after our money for us and they lend money to us. This section focuses on how banks and buildings societies look after our money for us.
  • Banks and building societies can open an account for you to keep your money in and you’ll be able to get your wages or benefits paid straight into your account as well.
  • When you need to spend your money, you can get it out as cash either by going into a branch of your bank or building society or by using a cash point machine. See our cash point machine simulator to learn how to do this.
  • It is also possible to pay for some things by writing cheques, which means you don’t have to carry cash around. See Cheques to learn more.
  • Your bank may give you a plastic card called a debit card. You can use this to pay for things without having to carry around cash and to shop by telephone or online. When you use a debit card, the money you spend comes straight out of your bank account. For more information see:

  • People also arrange for their banks to pay bills and regular sums of money by direct debit or standing order. This means that you give your bank permission to make a number of payments on your behalf in the future without you having to authorise each payment. Many companies such as gas and electricity suppliers prefer people to pay bills in this way so you often get a better deal if you do.  
  • You can also get your bank to transfer money to other people’s accounts both in this country and abroad, although you will usually have to pay a fee for these services.
  • Banks and building societies also offer savings accounts, which are accounts where you can keep your savings. Savings are made up of any money that you don’t spend on day-to-day living but instead choose to put aside for the future.  For more information on savings accounts, see our page Different types of accounts.

As well as providing accounts, banks usually offer other financial products and services, for example insurance, mortgages, credit cards, loans and foreign currency.

Interactive workshops

We have some interactive workshops that can help you get to grips with banking. Choose from:


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