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How to... Find the best value bank account

Free banking has now spread to business accounts and GPs are well placed to take advantage of the offers now available, potentially saving hundreds of pounds each year. The best deals are found on the web, often from some of the newer entrants to banking.

1. Examine your bank statements, work out how much you are paying in charges and consider whether this is good value. Get an idea of the types of transaction going through the account.

2. Visit www.moneysupermarket.com and click on 'business finance'. Compare account facilities and look at credit interest rates.

3. If you decide to change banks and need an overdraft facility in place, check with your new bank that this will be available and at rates equal to or better than your current provider.

4. Work out systems to avoid paying in cash if the new bank is not local to the practice. For example, allow staff to use the petty cash as a 'virtual cash machine', leaving a cheque in exchange.

5. If you have to use the post to pay in cheques, factor this inconvenience and the postage into the equation.

6. Make sure you always photocopy cheques if paying them in by post, as this is your only record of the payment.

7. Whether or not you change banks, make sure as many transactions as possible are performed electronically or automatically.

8. Get a payment card that will allow online shopping for practice items. This could save you money.

9. Even if you don't change banks, give details of the latest offers to your current bank manager, who may match the offers to keep you hooked.

10. Never close your existing account until the new facility is up and running.

My best buy is the Alliance and Leicester Free Business Current Account. As well as free transactions it offers interest in credit, an overdraft facility and access to Post Offices to deposit items and cash without charges.

Dr Peter Saul is GP in Rhos, near Wrexham

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