While filling in a UK form I just encountered the following question:

How many credit cards held?

This was followed by a free-form text field. So they are either asking

  1. ‘how many credit cards have you ever held in your hands in total,’
  2. ‘how many credit cards have you held in your hands at most at any one time,’ or
  3. ‘how many credit cards have you currently got registered in your own name.’

Judging by the context it's obviously the third.

Next question:

Current account held? [ ] Yes [ ] No

What? My first thought was that there was a plural "s" missing, and they're really asking how many accounts I have like in the last question, or else the account number of my current account, but they want a binary answer. So are they asking

  1. ‘do you have an account at all,’
  2. ‘is your account in some nebulous "held" state,’
  3. ‘is the account you're currently using registered in somebody else's name (applicable to minors or dependants),’ or
  4. something completely different?
  • Well, I don't know what someone else might say to this, but if I were you I would call the bank and ask them. I doubt any of us here know what the bank means with the question. Unless they happen to work for that particular bank. Jun 28, 2013 at 21:18
  • 1
    I think this is just Too Basic for ELU. In these contexts, to hold simply means to have (much as the "tautological" marriage vow to have and to hold). So the first question asks how many credit cards you have (the answer being a number), and the second asks if you have a current account (answer yes or now). Jun 28, 2013 at 21:22
  • @Cyberherbalist It's actually a housing application, not for a bank. And I don't have a UK bank account.
    – l0b0
    Jun 28, 2013 at 21:27
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    @ l0b0: Well, I'm not sure how much more we can tell you on ELL beyond what I've just said in the above comment (to hold here is equivalent to to have, to own, to operate, etc.). But if you had asked it there, I wouldn't have voted to close, so I guess the answer to the question in your comment is "Yes". Jun 28, 2013 at 21:32
  • 1
    Also see credit card hold Jun 28, 2013 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


Q1: How many (active) credit cards are currently held in your name?
Answer: an integer

Q2: Do you have (what in UK banking terminology is known as) a current account?
Answer Yes/No

The type of account known in the UK as a current account, is known (if I recall correctly) as a checking account in the USA. It is an account on which you can issue cheques (US spelling: checks). As far as I know, it is also the only type of personal UK bank account on which you can go overdrawn, i.e. with the account in debit rather than in credit.

I'm not surprised at these questions on a UK housing application form. The first question would be in order to help them assess your credit worthiness.

The second question would be related to whether you have an active UK bank account (other than a savings account), and might also be to do with how you will pay for your housing. I would expect that they would want you to pay by direct debit, whereby they are authorised to take the monthly/weekly rental payment directly from your bank current account: they debit your account directly, hence the name "direct debit". Direct debits cannot normally be taken from other types of UK bank account.

  • 1
    I'm not sure ability to issue cheques is really relevant to UK current accounts. Most places no longer accept cheques anyway (I haven't written one for years, and I'm quite sure if I did, my bank would phone me for confirmation before paying it). Jun 28, 2013 at 23:27
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    My understanding of a current account, as distinct from any other type of account, is that it is the only type of (personal) account on which you can issue cheques (and have direct debits). I believe that it was (if not still is) the primary distinction between current accounts and other account types. I do have - and occasionally use - cheques on both my current accounts, and I know I can't have them on any other accounts.
    – TrevorD
    Jun 28, 2013 at 23:45
  • +1 reading your answer cleared up any doubts as to the meaning of Q1. I was hovering between: Which credit cards are held by the owner and "In your lifetime how many credit cards have you held?" Definitely ambiguous, I think, and not having dealt with banks in the UK or ever owned a CC in the UK I shared the OP's perplexities about Q2.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 29, 2013 at 5:53
  • @Mari-LouA Thanks. Unfortunately, one can't expect form designers to think about how their questions might be ambiguous - and especially not when designing forms that might well be used by non-native speakers! ;-)
    – TrevorD
    Jun 29, 2013 at 13:31

In order to understand the application, I think one would need to understand the inputs to the process of determining creditworthiness. For example, in deciding whether to grant you credit, a financial institution is primarily interested in your financial situation at the present time. They would not care about old revolving lines of credit that have since been closed, because such lines do not increase their current risk. Thus,

How many credit cards held?

is almost certainly a stylistic abbreviation of How many credit cards are currently held by you?

Similarly, if applying for insurance, a form asking

How many cars owned?

would be asking how many cars do you currently own, not how many you have owned in your lifetime.

The second question is unrelated to the first as it pertains to a type of financial product known as a current account. In the U.S. this would be known as a checking account or a draft account, and refers to a bank account intended for handling high frequency transactions. Such accounts offer essentially unlimited withdrawals and deposits compared to a savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, or other types of bank accounts, and thus are most useful for paying bills usnig checks (UK: cheques) and depositing paychecks.


Current account held? [ ] Yes [ ] No

simply asks whether you currently have a current account/checking account/draft account.

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