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Carer’s Card Accounts

What is a Carer’s Card account?

It’s a special feature on a bank account offered by many high-street banks that allows you to give restricted access to the money in your bank account to a person you trust or who cares for you.

What each bank offers is slightly different, but typically: 

  • you and the person you’re sharing access with needs to be 18 or older and a UK resident

  • you need to have a personal current account with the bank you choose for your Carer’s Card 

  • no overdraft will be available, and interest won’t be paid on the balance

  • the account will be in your name only and only you will have full access to the account

  • the person you share access to will get their own debit card

  • the person you give a card to will only be able to see limited account details 

  • the person you give a card to will only have a limited access to funds and you control how much

  • the card can usually only be used for limited cash withdrawals or spending in physical shops – not online or over the phone. 

Why might I want to use a Carer’s Card account?

You might want to use a Carer’s Card account if you’re reliant on others to pay for certain things on your behalf. Alternatively, if you provide care or help for someone, whether that’s informally or paid, then you might want to suggest a carer’s card account to them.

If you’re being cared for

Here’s how a Carer’s Card account might be useful for you:

  • If you rely on your carer to shop, get cash out for you or pay certain bills and you’d like to safely provide them with an ability to pay without relying on cash

  • If you rely on family or friends in the same way without them being a formal carer

If you provide care for someone else

Here’s how a carer’s card account might be useful for you and the person you care for:

  • If you’re a carer or family or friend of a person who can’t leave the house and want to know if there’s a safe way to pay for things on their behalf with their money

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Who offers Carer’s Card accounts?

Here are the Carer’s Card accounts offered by banks and other providers. These aren’t listed in any particular order as we can’t endorse any individual account. It’s important you read all the information to choose the account best suited for your circumstances. 

If you don’t see your own bank, building society or credit union listed, it’s worth contacting them to see if they offer something similar. 

Free Carer’s Card accounts

NatWest, RBS and Ulster Bank – Companion Card

This is an extra debit card associated with your personal current account. The card won’t share a PIN or long card number with your normal debit card and will be kept separate on the bank’s systems. You can top-up the balance on the card by up to £100 every five days. The trusted person you give this card can only use it for spending in shops (not online) and can withdraw up to £50 cash at a time from an ATM.

You can only apply for this card by phone and must be an existing customer. Call the vulnerable customer phone line for each bank on:

NatWest: 0800 051 4176

RBS: 0800 051 4177 

Ulster Bank: 0800 092 4238

Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland – My Trusted Person Card

This is an additional debit card linked to your personal current account. The card has its own PIN and debit card number. The person using the card won’t be able to make purchases online, abroad or over the phone, won’t be able to see your account balance, sort code or account number. The person you give your Trusted Person Card to will only be able to make purchases up to £100 a week and withdraw cash of up to £100 a week.

You can only apply for this card by phone and must be an existing customer. Call the application phone line for each bank on:

Lloyds: 0345 300 0000

Halifax: 0345 720 3040

Bank of Scotland: 0345 721 3141

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Starling Bank – Connected Card

This is a ringfenced ‘space’ in your personal current account that comes with its own debit card that you can give to anyone you trust. You can put up to £200 into this ‘space’ and the person with the Connected Card can only use it for spending in physical shops. They can’t access the rest of your account, see your account balance, access your app, withdraw cash at an ATM, shop online or buy gambling products.

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Santander – Carers Card Account

This is an entirely separate account rather than an additional debit card linked to an existing account. However, you must already have a Santander current or instant access savings account to be able to transfer money into it. The account allows you to give an individual card and PIN to up to two carers. Both you and your carer(s) will be able to see bank statements. The account can have a maximum balance of £1,500 but there are no other spending or cash withdrawal limits.

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What you need to apply for a Carer’s Card account

If you choose a free carer’s card account offered by one of the banks listed above, you’ll need:

  • a current account (or in some cases a savings account) with the bank you choose. If you don’t have an existing account, you'll need to open a new one

  • ID and proof of address for you if you’re opening a new account. See our guide for the ID each bank requires

  • ID for the carer(s) you plan on sharing access with.

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How safe is my money in a free Carer’s Card bank account?

As with other accounts offered by banks, buildings societies or credit unions, if you choose one of the free carer's accounts above, you’re entitled to compensation through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if your provider goes bust.

This means you won’t lose any money you put into this account if you don’t also have more than £85,000 with the same financial institution.

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Protect yourself from fraud

The cards above have restrictions that deter potential scammers and mean your chances of being the victim of a scam or fraud are reduced. 

For example, most of the cards have limits to how much money can be accessed by your carer and the cards can only be used for spending in physical shops and not online.

Even with these limits, it’s important that the carer you choose to have access to your Carer’s Card is someone who you trust completely.

Protect yourself from financial abuse

Everyone has the right to financial independence. Financial abuse from a family member, friend, partner or carer can be when someone:

  • takes out money or gets credit in your name without your knowledge or permission

  • makes you hand over control of your accounts

  • cashes in your pension or other cheques without your permission 

  • adds their name to your account

  • asks you to change your will

  • has offered to buy shopping or pay bills with your money, but you don’t see this happening

  • stops you from seeing other friends and family. 

Taking the first steps to break free of financial abuse is incredibly brave. It might seem scary, but you don’t have to do it alone.

There are ways your bank, building society, lender or other financial service provider can help you. It’s important to talk to someone.

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Your consumer rights when using the card

Your carer’s card will be protected under the Chargeback scheme.

Chargeback is a voluntary agreement Visa, Mastercard and American Express have signed up to.  

The scheme enables you to claim a refund through your card provider if a purchase is faulty (although it’s best to always first try to resolve an issue with the shop you made the purchase from).

As spending on most carer’s card accounts is limited to physical shops, it’s unlikely you’ll need to make a chargeback claim unless the shop refuses to give you or your carer a refund. 

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These are usually prepaid cards, not bank accounts. 

This means the money you put into the card might not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This means if the company goes bust you risk losing your money or taking a long time to get it back.

Usually, you must pay a subscription of around £7 per month and you might have to pay extra charges for things like cash withdrawals.

That’s why the cheapest option is probably to use a Carer’s Card account from one of the banks listed above. For comparison, GuardianCard, a prepaid Carer's Card is £7.95 a month plus charges. 

Make sure you read the terms and conditions of either of these cards before taking them out. 

Alternatives to Carer’s Card accounts

A Carer’s Card account might not be the right option for you. 

For example, you might only need care for a short period of time while recovering from a hospital operation. 

Or you might need someone you trust to have wider access to your bank account, such as to be able to sort out your household bills for you.

Below are some alternatives.  

Supermarket gift cards

Some supermarkets let you buy gift cards so a volunteer can do your shopping on your behalf. The volunteer can only spend up to the amount of money that is on the gift card and only at the shop named on the card. They might not be able to spend it online.

Sometimes you can also get the gift card sent directly to your volunteer’s home address (if you choose a physical card) or email address (if you choose an ‘e-gift card’). 

This minimises the face-to-face contact you need to have with your volunteer which is especially useful if you’re worried about infection or coronavirus.

During the coronavirus pandemic, some supermarkets also offer priority ‘slots’ for online shopping if you’re vulnerable.

Be careful when buying gift cards as you can lose the money when they expire, if you lose the card or if the shop goes bust. Find out more about your rights with gift cards on the Which? website

Free cash delivery

If you need cash, but can’t leave your home, then some banks now offer a free home cash delivery service.

Which banks offer free cash delivery

If you’re a ‘vulnerable’ customer of NatWest, RBS or Ulster Bank you can get cash delivered fee-free to your door. You can also request a one-time use code that will allow someone you trust to make an ATM withdrawal of up to £100 for you.

To find out more call the vulnerable customer phone line for each bank on:

NatWest: 0800 051 4176

RBS: 0800 051 4177

Ulster Bank: 0800 092 4238

Post Office

If you have a Post Office card account for your benefits, tax credits or State Pension payments, someone else can draw out cash for you on your behalf. 

However, these card accounts are closing soon.

You'll need to use another bank, building society or credit union account to receive your benefit payments, so look at the options listed here if you want to add a carer’s card.  

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Other support

If you need help with paperwork or paying bills, then help is available.

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If you think you might need someone to help you with your banking or make financial decisions on your behalf, then you might want to consider a Power of Attorney. 

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