Whatever your situation when moving to London from overseas, it will be necessary for you to open a UK bank account. This can present some challenges as it’s likely that you’ll have no UK credit history.
However, over recent years many of the larger banks have realised that this is an issue for migrants, and have put certain procedures into place to make the process somewhat easier.
Such difficulties that have historically made it difficult to open a bank account in the UK include:
Not having a valid proof of address. This may be an issue if you’ve just landed, and don’t yet have a permanent abode.
Not having the above mentioned credit history
However, there are some bank accounts specifically designed to overcome these problems. And with that in mind, here is our list of the 7 best UK bank accounts for expats.
Barclays ‘New to the UK’ account
Global banking giant, Barclays, offer an account specifically designed for those who are new to the UK. It provides you with a full range of banking services, including a contactless debit card, the ability to withdraw up to £300 a day (subject to sufficient funds), as well as online, telephone and mobile banking. You can also set up standing orders and direct debits.
To open such an account you need to bring one form of ID, such as your passport, and one proof of address. This can be your bank statement from home.
Such an account can either be opened in branch, or if you live in a country where Barclays has a presence, you’ll be able to open your UK account before you leave home.
HSBC Basic Account
Once again, HSBC is a bank with a global presence. Thanks to this there is the ability to open an account before you leave your home country.
The HSBC Basic Account (previously known as the ‘Passport Account’) gives you a Visa Debit card, you can withdraw up to £300 a day from ATMs, Internet banking, mobile banking and telephone banking. Once again, you can set up direct debits and standing orders for bill payments.
With such an account you will need to provide both proof of ID and proof of address within the UK. There are ways around this if you don’t yet have a permanent residence. These include using a contract of employment or a rental house agreement. Another method is to change the address with your bank in your own country to your current UK address. Then you can print off an online statement and ‘voila’ – you have your proof of address.
Halifax Current Account
In addition to this, if you pay in more than £750 per month, they give you £5 a month too! You get all the regular tools you need to run your day to day banking (debit card, online and telephone banking, direct debits and standing orders etc.). Plus the Halifax has a presence on virtually every high street in the country, as well as all over London. So if you want to do your banking the old fashioned way by actually visiting the branch, they’ll always be one close by.
First Direct 1st Account
First Direct is slightly different from all on this list as it doesn’t actually have any branches. But what it does offer is 24/7, 365 days a year Internet and telephone banking. So if you want to phone up and discuss your banking at 01:00 in the morning on Christmas Day, you can…
The parent company of First Direct is HSBC, so you can be sure that your money is in good hands. Their 1st Account offers a £250 free overdraft, as well as all the usual products you’d expect from a current account. You can also deposit money at any of the many HSBC banks in the country.
The First Direct 1st Account consistently comes out top in the polls when it comes to the best bank accounts in the UK. Independent websites such as This Is Money and Money Saving Expert have rated this account for years, and it also scores highly on customer satisfaction polls.
Santander Bank Account
Another global giant, the Spanish owned, Santander, has become a real player in the UK banking market over the past couple of decades. The 1|2|3 Current Account provides you with 3% interest on your balance as well as paying you cashback on your household bills. Along with this you get the usual range of products. There is a charge for this account of £2 per month (as of time of writing). You do need to pay a minimum of £500 per month into the account and have at least 2 active direct debits to get the monthly cashback.
The bank also offers an Everyday Current Account that charges no fee. This is a slightly more simple account, and whilst it doesn’t pay interest on your balance or give cashback on bills, it does provide everything else that you’d expect from a current account.
Lloyds Bank Account
Another big player on the High Street is Lloyds. For those who can pay in at least £1,500 every month their Club Lloyds Account pays an impressive 4% interest on balances between £4,000 and £5,000. Lower balances also attract interest, but at a lesser value (2% for £2,000 to £3,999 and 1% for £1 to £1,999). If you can’t pay in £1,500 per month you can still have such an account, but you’ll have to pay a £5 fee.
Alternatively you can take out the Lloyds Classic Account that is free for all. You get all the usual products and is available to anyone over the age of 18.
Nationwide Bank Account
The Nationwide is the world’s largest building society, run for the benefit if its many members. One of their best current accounts is the Flex Direct, which provides you with 5% interest on credit balances up to £2,500. Of course, you also get all the usual products (debit card, Internet banking etc), and the use of the many Nationwide branches that can be found all over London and the UK.