All you need to know ahead of more than 300,000 Post Office card accounts being axed next year

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All you need to know ahead of more than 300,000 Post Office card accounts being axed next year
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Post card accounts have been beloved by pensioners since they were set up nearly 20 years ago. 

At their height, nearly one million customers relied on the cards to collect pensions and child benefit. 

Today, there are still 320,000 active Post Office card accounts. They remain popular because they are easy to use and have no overdraft facility or charges, making it impossible for users to get into debt. 

All you need to know ahead of more than 300,000 Post Office card accounts being axed next year
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But this month thousands of letters landed on pensioners’ doorsteps to warn the accounts will be axed from November next year. Many Money Mail readers are furious about the change, and feel they are being bullied into opening a bank account they do not want. Others are anxious and say that they have found the letters very confusing. So here we outline everything you need to know… 

When will my account close? 

Post Office card accounts were originally meant to be closed in November this year. But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) extended the deadline by 12 months to November 30, 2022, due to the pandemic. So HMRC will stop paying benefits into these accounts from December 1 next year. If you have not responded to your letter by summer 2022, the DWP will write to you again. 

What will the changes be? 

The size of your pension, and the date it is paid, will not change. But your Post Office card will no longer be valid, so you will not be able to rely on it to access your cash. You will have to nominate a new bank account instead. 

So, explain my options now? 

You can ask for your pension to be paid into an existing current account if you have one. If not, you can open a bank, building society or credit union account. You can do this either in person or online. You can elect somebody you trust to help you with this. If you cannot set up your own current account, you may be eligible for the DWP’s Payment Exception Service. 

All you need to know ahead of more than 300,000 Post Office card accounts being axed next year
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Each month, you will then be either texted a unique reference number or emailed a voucher. You can take this to a Post Office or a PayPoint outlet where staff will help you retrieve your money. If you do not have a smartphone or computer, you can sign up for a payment card, which will be loaded with money. 

Can I still use the Post Office? 

Most bank accounts allow you to take out cash and manage your account at the Post Office. If you open up a current account with a bank, building society or credit union, check it is listed as a partner on the Post Office website. Or you can ask in store at your local branch. 

How do I let the DWP know my new details? 

Once you have chosen an account for your payments, you must give these details to the DWP. You can do this by calling 0800 0857 133. For those with hearing difficulties, you can contact the DWP via the free-to-use service Typetalk on 0800 0857 146. Alternatively, the DWP should have sent you a form in the post which you can fill out with your new account details and return. 

Should I close my account? 

Do not close your account until you have received your first­ payment in your new current account. After that, you then need to collect a P6703 account closure form from your local Post Office. Or you can ring the Post Office and ask them to send you one. Once you have completed the form, take it back to your local branch. It will take up to ten working days for your account to close. Check beforehand if there is still money in your account. If there is and you need help taking it out, call the Post Office contact centre on 0345 722 3344 or Typetalk on 0345 722 3355. 

What happens if I do nothing? 

The DWP will move your pension account onto a Payment Exception Service.  

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