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What to do now your Post Office card account is closing

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has now told you your Post Office Card Account (POCA) you use for receiving your benefits or State Pension payments, will be closing.

 

Your payments will continue to be paid in full and your payment dates won’t change but how you access your money will. This guide helps you decide on the best and safest ways to get hold of your money easily.  

What are my options?

Your three options are: 

  • use your existing current account for your benefit payments 
  • open a bank, building society or credit union account if you don’t already have one 
  • use the Payment Exception Service if you can’t open a current account. 

Option 1: Nominate an existing bank, building society or credit union current account

You’ll need to use a current account to access your money as a savings account isn’t suitable if you’re taking out money often. 

Also, some savings accounts, for example Instant Saver Accounts, won’t accept direct payment of pensions and benefits.  

Instead, you’ll be asked to provide a current account to deposit or withdraw money and receive any third-party payments from other people. 

If you already have a current account you can use, you’ll just need to give the DWP the details. See our section Informing the DWP about your new bank details for more information.

Option 2: Open a current account if you don’t have one

A current account is the easiest way to access your payments as you can take out any amount of money you have, whenever you need it.  

Current accounts are offered by banks, building societies and credit unions.  

You can open an account in person or online or a trusted relative, friend or carer can help you. If you already have a helper (known as a ‘permanent agent’) for your Post Office card account, you can ask this person to help you open an account. 

For help picking an account that suits your needs, read our section How to choose and open a current account

You might be uncertain what identification you need to open a new current account. Find out what you need in our section What documents will I need to open a bank account?

Can I still use the Post Office to manage my money?

If you already have an account or open a new one, you can continue to use your local Post Office to withdraw money. Most bank accounts already allow you to take out cash and manage your account from Post Office branches.  

You or a helper can check if your bank, building society or credit union is listed and what services they offer on the Post Office website. 

Option 3: Use the Payment Exception Service

If it’s not possible for you to have a current account, the DWP will make your payments through the Payment Exception Service. You can receive your payments through one of the following three methods: 

  • a unique reference number via a text message (SMS) on your phone  
  • a unique PDF voucher via email  
  • a Payment Card: the DWP will send you a Payment Card and a welcome letter. The Payment Card is pre-loaded with vouchers that you can use to take out money at any PayPoint retailer or Post Office branch. You do not need a computer or smartphone if you choose this option. 

To collect a benefit or State Pension payment, show your card, voucher or text message at a Post Office or PayPoint outlet. You can find your nearest PayPoint retailer on the PayPoint website.  

If you have chosen to be paid through emailed vouchers or the Payment Card, you will also need to show proof of your identity to take out your money. Here is a list of the proof of identity you can use. You only need to show one of these: 

  • A valid UK photo or paper Driving Licence 
  • Passport (UK, Irish or Foreign) 
  • Birth, Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate 
  • Benefit Entitlement letter (less than 3 months old) 
  • Council Rent Book/Tenancy agreement 
  • Council Tax or Rates Demand/Bill 
  • Utility Bill (such as a gas or electricity bill) 
  • Photographic (UK) Travel Pass 
  • Services (Forces) Identity Card 
  • Foreign National ID Card 
  • Immigration and Nationality Department form SAL1 
  • NI Electoral Identity Card 
  • Biometric Residency Permit 
  • Naturalisation/UK Citizen Certificate, or 
  • Form BF57a. 

How much money will be on my vouchers?

Whether you choose to receive emailed vouchers, vouchers by text message, or vouchers loaded onto your Payment Card, each voucher is limited to a total of £100.  

This means if your benefit or State Pension payment is more than £100, you’ll need to use your Payment Card, your email or SMS vouchers more than once to collect all your money.  

For example, if your benefit payment is £212, to draw out all your money, you’ll need to use your Payment Card (or emailed or texted voucher) at least three times.   

This is because £100 + £100 + £12 = £212.  

You don’t have to take out the full voucher amount at once. You can cash as many vouchers as you like at the same time.  

However, if you don’t cash in a voucher within 90 days of receiving it, the payment expires and returns to the office that pays your benefit. You will need to contact that office to reclaim it. 

If a retailer doesn’t have enough money available when you visit, you may need to go to another PayPoint retailer, visit again later or visit a Post Office branch.  

Each time you use your Payment Card you can ask for a receipt to show how much money you have left to collect.  

How safe is my money on a Payment Card?

Using a payment card can be less convenient than an account. Here are some things to think about: 

  • You won’t be able to use your vouchers like a bank account. This means you can’t transfer the value of the vouchers to any other bank account, and you can’t build up a balance as your vouchers expire after 90 days if they’re not cashed out. 
  • Relying on cash payments might mean you miss out on cheaper or useful online products and services that you can only pay for if you have a current account. For example, you need a current account to pay to have supermarket shopping delivered to your home. 

If you decide that the Payment Exception Service isn’t for you and you open a bank, credit union or building society current account, you can switch to being paid directly into your new bank account by contacting the office that pays your benefit. 

What if I need someone else to collect my payments for me?

If someone else is collecting your payments, you’ll need to give them your payment card, or emailed voucher with proof of your ID, as well as proof of their ID so they can collect your payment. No ID is needed for the SMS (text message) voucher. 

You can apply to become an appointee for someone if they cannot manage their own affairs. You’ll get a payment card to use on their behalf and will be responsible for reporting any change of circumstance. 

Informing the DWP about your new bank details

When you’re ready to nominate a current account for your payments, you’ll need to confirm these details with the DWP.  

You (or a responsible carer or support worker) can contact the DWP customer centre on 0800 0857 133 or Typetalk on 0800 0857 146.  

The DWP can then update your payment arrangements and start to make payments directly to your current account.  

It’s important you don’t close your Post Office card account until you’ve checked that your benefits or State Pension payments are being paid into your new account. 

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Closing your Post Office card account

Wait until you get your first payment into your new current account, before you close your Post Office card account (POca).  

Check you haven’t left any money in your POca before you close it.   

If there is still money in your account and you need help taking it out, call the Post Office contact centre on 0345 722 3344 Or Typetalk on 0345 722 3355

To close the account, you’ll need to collect a P6703 account closure form from your local Post Office, or you can call the Post Office contact centre to send you one. They can also help you fill it in. 

When you’ve completed the form, take it back to your local Post Office for someone to check it and send it on. From this point, it will take up to ten working days for your account to be closed.  

When your account is closed any remaining money left in your POca will be transferred to the bank account you’ve chosen (if you have provided Post Office with your account details).

If you have tax credits or Child Benefit paid into your POca

If you receive an HMRC payment (Tax Credit or Child Benefit) paid into a POca, HMRC will be writing to you separately to ask for your current account details.  

HMRC won’t make tax credit or Child Benefit payments through payment cards and vouchers.  

If you don’t have a current account and can’t open one, you will need to contact HMRC to discuss your options.

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How to choose and open a current account

Most current or basic accounts from UK banks, building societies and credit unions will already accept automated payments for your Universal Credit, other benefits or your State Pension. This could be a current account from a bank, building society or credit union or a basic fee-free bank account.

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If you’re not sure what bank account is best for you, you can call us on 0800 138 7777 (English) or 0800 138 0555 (Welsh). For Typetalk dial 18001 0800 915 4622.

If you don't qualify for a standard current account, then the bank provider you choose may be able to offer you a basic bank account.

Find out more in our guide about how basic bank accounts work.

Opening a current account

Once you’ve chosen a current account, you can open an account in person, by phone or online. If you’re worried about doing this yourself, a trusted relative, friend or carer can help you.

If you already have a helper (known as a ‘permanent agent’) for your Post Office card account, you can ask this person to help you open an account.

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Can I still use the Post Office to manage my money with a current account?

Even if you open a current account, you can still use your local Post Office because most bank accounts already allow you to take out cash and manage your account from Post Office branches.  

You or a helper can check if your bank, building society or credit union is listed and what services they offer on the Post Office website.

What documents will I need to open a bank account?

When you open a bank account you must give proof of who you are and your address. If you have a passport or photo driving licence as proof of identity (ID) or bill statements for proof of address, you can use these documents. 

However, don’t worry if you don’t have these documents or if you don’t have a permanent address now. 

You or a helper can check ID requirements on the website of the bank, building society or credit union you’d like to use so you can find a bank account that meets your needs. 

Or you can visit your local branch and ask them what ID they will accept.

How to prove your identity and address

Banks, building societies and credit unions usually require two documents to verify your identity and address:  

  • one document to confirm your full first and family name (for example, your passport, driving licence, State Benefit or State Pension letter, etc), it should have no initials  
  • one document to confirm your address for example, a. Council Tax Bill, or household bill, rent or mortgage statement.   

You can find out other documents that are likely to be accepted on the Proof of identity checklist on the GOV.UK website.  

If you haven’t got access to any of these, it may be worth talking to a Bank, Credit Union or Building Society to discuss whether they can accept other forms of identification.

Here’s a list of options that should allow you to open a current account.
If you don't have
You could try

A passport or driving licence

Letters that show your full name:

  • from the Department for Work and Pensions 
  • from HMRC 
  • from JobCentre+ 
  • from your local council
  • about your Blue Badge disabled driving pass 
  • confirming who you are and where you live – from your employer, college or training provider 
  • about your benefits or State Pension. 

Proof of address

Letters from : 

  • your GP 
  • your social landlord 
  • a minister of religion 
  • your care home manager 
  • a warden of sheltered accommodation, hostel or refuge 
  • an armed services officer. 

The bank may be able to check your identity electronically by using credit reference agencies to search sources of information relating to you (an identity search). If they offer to do this, ask if the search will affect your credit rating. 

You might have other documents to prove your ID and address if you’re: 

  • an international student 
  • a migrant worker 
  • a refugee 
  • an asylum seeker 
  • a prisoner 
  • on probation. 

If you’re not sure what you can use to prove your ID and address, take along all the documents you have. This will help the bank or building society to decide what they will accept most easily. 

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impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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