Given the UK’s position as a global financial hub and its large expat community, an option exists to meet every need. But with more than 300 banks across the UK, it’s clear that choosing the right bank which fits your needs might not be the easiest thing to do – And that’s why we are here to help you.
First things first, consider your banking needs. Factors that come into play include:
- Length of stay: Many of the top banks in UK offer international current accounts that you can open and operate from overseas. Alternatively, you may wish to look at the offshore accounts if you expect to be out-of-country frequently, as these may provide favourable tax benefits.
- Travel itinerary: A multi-currency account may be the way to go if you are on the move constantly or would like a convenient way to keep track of all the different currencies you hold.
- Spending habits: Unlike Current Accounts, Basic Accounts generally do not offer credit cards and overdraft facilities to account holders. Expatriates often find themselves having to spend unusually large sums during the settling-in phase.
Banking in the UK can be easy. In fact, there is a good chance that your current bank maintains a presence in the UK. This will allow you to set up your UK bank account well in advance of your move. Additionally, smaller banks also often have partnerships with counterparts in the UK that provide such services. However, many charge for such arrangements so be sure to check with your service provider. Alternatively, you may also wish to start a new account entirely and with good reasons. The UK has a large expatriate community and many banks offer attractive packages to court such individuals.
As such, we have provided a list of the top banks in UK and even suggested some of the most suitable accounts that might just cater to your needs below!
*This list is not placed in any particular ranking order.
Barclays is one of the largest banks in the UK and offers a wide range of high-quality financial services that suit the needs of individuals, as well as businesses. It typically offers three types of transactional accounts: The Barclays bank account which is a flexible and rewarding way of banking; Premier current account which is used for more than an everyday bank account; and the Barclays basic bank account which is used for simple banking. Depending on what you’re looking for, Barclays does offer different types of current accounts including student and graduate accounts, accounts for young people and currency accounts.
Barclays also has business accounts available for those who seek guidance from the business banking experts provided. Whether you’re looking for a start-up business account, an account for an established business or a community account, Barclays has got you covered. You can choose how you want to do your business banking: From home, using the Barclays app, online banking or Barclays invoicing.
If you are interested in investing or saving, Barclays’ portfolio of good savings and investment accounts might just be to your liking. And if you’re not sure which savings account to go for, you can start by comparing the three different accounts offered before making your decision.
If the wide range of options isn’t enough to entice you, the Barclays foreign currency account is also available in 12 foreign currencies, providing convenience and is ideal for expats. Banking with Barclays means flexibility. The bank offers great mobile and online banking services as well as the ability to customise your online account and select travel and tech packs, all for just a small fee.
For more information on the Barclays accounts, click here.
2. HSBC Expat Premier Account
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HSBC is one of the four largest multinational banks in the UK. It is popular among expats because of its global reach and wide variety of financial products from the best borrowing options to mortgage, investment and even insurance options. These include the tax-free cash ISA account, overseas non-resident account (available in 37 countries) and free foreign currency account (available in 14 currencies) which are all great choices for expats.
As the name suggests, the HSBC Expat Premier Account was designed with the globe-trotting professionals in mind. For banking in the UK, it can be set up using Sterling, Euro or the US dollar. It also comes with a Foreign Exchange app, a debit card, and complimentary travel security that allows you to access and meet all your banking needs even when you are constantly on the move. The account can easily be accessed through the online website, via a mobile banking app, or qualified Wealth Managers. Besides having a 24/7 support service to cater to your needs, HSBC expat premier also offers savings accounts with competitive rates in up to 19 major currencies.
This account is most suitable for people who already have an account with HSBC and move countries or make international payments on a regular basis. On the other hand, if you would like to create this account, you must be 18 years old and above and meet one of the following criteria: Hold a HSBC account in your home country with a minimum deposit of £50,000 (or currency equivalent); have a personal earnings of £100,000 (or currency equivalent); or be qualified already for HSBC Premier in another country. You must also currently reside or be situated in an eligible country or region.
For more information on the HSBC Expat Premier Accounts, click here.
3. Lloyds International Current Account
Whether you are looking for a bank that offers a basic savings account, investment and wealth management solutions or a reliable platform to facilitate your financial transactions, Lloyds has got to be one of the top choices on the list.
Lloyds is one of the leading banks in the UK, offering 8 current standard accounts, a classic account, a basic account, an under-19 account, and also a students’ account. You can sign up for the platinum account at £21 per month and enjoy a wide range of insurance benefits, in addition to the monthly credit interest offerings, special lifestyle benefits and up to 15 percent cashback.
However, with effect from 21 November 2021, there will be some changes made to the benefits that come with the accounts. Before you decide if an account is right for you, read the Guide to Changes, which includes all the information about the changes of benefits that you need to know. It’s important that you read this before proceeding because the changes may affect what you’re covered for from the change date. You can also view the Frequently Asked Questions about these changes to learn more.
Regarding savings accounts, the bank does offer 12 local savings accounts, as well as 4 international multi-currency savings accounts depending on your needs.
On top of these accounts, Lloyds also offers 2 international accounts designed for expats. Compared to the Premium International Current Account, the International Current Account has a lower deposit requirement, so it may be suitable for individuals who require more flexibility with their cash when banking in the UK. This account can be opened in Sterling, Euro or the US Dollar. However, a monthly fee of £7.50/€8/US$10 is charged when you have accounts in multiple currencies. Benefits of this account include access to Visa debits available in sterling, dollars, and euros, fee-free international payments, and 24/7 support through mobile banking app and online website.
To apply for this account, you will need to have a gross annual income of £50,000 (or currency equivalent), or have £25,000 available to save or invest with Lloyds Bank international banking services. You will also need to make an initial deposit into your account within 30 days of opening your account.
For more information on the Lloyds International Current Account, click here.
4. Citibank Citigold Expat
Citibank is a one-stop wealth solution for your financial needs. It provides convenient access and support no matter where you may be and will help you hit the ground running. In particular, the Citigold Expat bank account offers personalised support for banking in the UK and has a suite of investment services available to clients like yourself. There are two types of expat banking services: Multi-Currency Banking and Offshore Wealth Management by investing through Jersey.
A multi-currency banking account is basically an offshore cash account, a foreign currency or a forex account that offers a wide range of day-to-day banking facilities. So whether you are travelling from one country to another or moving to a country permanently, you do not need to have multiple bank accounts just so you can deal with transactions in different currencies.
A foreign currency account provides you with a Citi Multi-Currency Debit Card that allows you to access your account and make free cash withdrawals in the currency of your choice of up to £2,000 (or currency equivalent) per day. Besides this, you can move and manage your money in up to 16 different currencies. With this account, you can be assured that all your offshore banking needs shall be addressed without stress.
With offshore wealth management facilities like Jersey, the bank ensures that it helps you take advantage of opportunities that can protect and grow your wealth when you’ve settled down in your new home. Jersey is a world-renowned financial centre with the expertise of over 13,000 finance professionals, helping you diversify your portfolio and invest in potentially profitable instruments. With the convenience of a central time zone and choice of a competitive range of products, the bank ensures that your wealth flourishes and grows without you being stressed about it.
For more information on Citigold Expat Accounts, click here.
5. Standard Bank Optimum Account
Photo Credit: Standard Bank Website
The Standard Bank offers banking, wealth management, trust and company administration, asset management and investment services to individuals, businesses, institutions and corporations. With various international bank accounts, Standard Bank aims to provide you with the convenience of banking anywhere in the world. Expats need look no further if they want the assurance provided by an established bank that is able to offer holistic banking solutions.
There are four types of international bank accounts: Optimum bank account, Platinum Optimum bank account, Seafarer bank account and Call account.
The Optimum bank account is perhaps the most accessible and suitable option for expats on this list. Benefits are not as great, but if you’re simply looking for a straightforward banking solution in the UK, this might be the option for you. A transactional account can be opened using Sterling, Euro, the Australian Dollar or the US Dollar.
The Optimum bank account provides you with the flexibility to make unlimited deposits and withdrawals at home or abroad and gives you access to international savings accounts and foreign exchange. It also provides you with Internet and mobile banking services for international payments, transfers and to manage your account, along with a visa debit card for easy payments and withdrawals worldwide.
The minimum deposit required to open an Optimum account is £5,000, US$7,000, €7,000 or AU$7,000. The average balance over any quarter must not fall below this minimum amount. Should this happen, an account maintenance fee of £60, US$ 90, € 90, AU$90 per quarter applies.
For more information on the Standard Bank Optimum Account, click here.