THOUSANDS of people claiming benefits must act now or they could risk missing out on payments.

Anyone who receives child benefit, tax credits or guardian's allowance will no longer be able to get the cash via a Post Office accounts.

HMRC, which pays these three benefits, will not send payments to Post Office accounts from November 30 this year.

Account holders will need to move payments to a bank account before thisdate.

Claimants will still get their payments but they will have to use a different account to access the cash.

The accounts had also been due to close for thousands more Brits who receive Universal Credit, State Pension payments.

However anyone getting these payments, which come from the Department for Work and Pensions, can continue using a Post Office account until November next year.

HMRC is now urging customers who receive their payments via this method to act now so they still get their money on time.

An estimated 780,000 people in total use a Post Office card account, which can be used to withdraw funds with no fees or charges.

The service closed for new benefit claimants last year and it was announced that anyone already using one will have to move accounts by November 2021

However, in September, it was announced that Post Office account holders who received benefits from the DWP rather than HMRC would get an extension.

The Post Office first introduced their card accounts in 2003 to replace the old state pension "order books".

The DWP is writing to account holders reminding them that they need to choose a new way to be paid.

The date you get paid and the amount you get will not change – just the way you receive your payment.

How can I get my benefit payments if my Post Office account is closing?

Anyone who already has a bank account with a bank or building society can choose for their payments to be made into there instead.

To make sure you don't miss a payment, you'll need to tell HMRC your bank account details by November 30.

You can do this by updating your Personal Tax Account or Child Benefit account online at gov.uk or by calling 0300 200 3100.

Anyone getting tax credits can change their account details online via gov.uk by calling the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900.

You should also have received a letter from HMRC with information on howto update your details.

If you don't tell HMRC by this date, you'll get the payments you're owed once you do notify them.

If you get payments from the DWP and HMRC, you still need update HMRC with new account details.

You also need to tell the Post Office to close your card account – make sure you withdraw any money first.

You can do this by completing an account closure form at your local Post Office, or calling 0345 722 33 44.

Those who don't already have another bank account will need to open one and let HMRC know the new account details so that payments go to the new account.

When you open a new bank account you can still use the new card you are given to withdraw cash at Post Offices, as well as other locations like cash machines.

For anyone unable to open an account, the government Payment Exceptions Service can be used.

This is a payment card, voucher by email, or text message containing a unique reference number that can be used to access benefit payments from PayPoint outlets which are in shops and newsagents.

You'll need to speak to your local benefits office to get this set up or respond to the letter about Post Office card account closures you got from the HMRC.

How do I open a bank account?

The government's MoneyHelper service says you have three options for a new account:

  • current account
  • basic bank account
  • prepaid card

A basic bank account is designed for people who don't qualify for a bank's current standard account – for example, they've got poor credit history and have experience of serious money problems.

Pre-paid cards can also be used if you can't get a current account, but Martin Lewis has warned that that they often come with expensive and unnecessary charges.

All three types of account can be used to deal with day-to-day spending and paying bills, as well as getting your benefit payments.

It's worth comparing the different types of bank account to work out the best option for you.

You can check out MoneyHelper's guide to choosing the best bank account for benefit payments.

Some bank accounts are even offering free cash bonuses for opening accounts with them.

However, you'll need to check first if you qualify for the account and that it suits your needs.

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