Moving to the UK is not easy, and there will be a lot of information to digest when you start looking into local banking options. At Remitly , we know it can all be overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve put together this quick and handy guide to the factors to consider when choosing a bank in Britain and some of the biggest names you might be interested in.
Key things to consider when choosing a UK bank
When evaluating banking options, it helps to take a practical and objective approach by applying this checklist of five key elements.
Fees : Are there monthly account fees? Will the bank charge you for using its ATMs?
Ease of setup : Does the bank offer a simple account creation process ?
Ease of use – is it possible to access your account and manage your financial affairs quickly and easily, for example via the bank’s website or mobile app?
Customer service : Is it easy to contact the bank’s customer service and will they have staff on site who speak your native language?
Additional Features Does the bank offer other useful services beyond a checking account, such as overdraft facilities and separate savings accounts?
Four banks to consider joining in the UK
With these considerations in mind, there are some well-known banks that we recommend to all newcomers to the UK. Let’s examine them more closely.
Why is this bank listed?
One of the most well-known banks in the UK, Barclays offers many things to its customers. For one thing, there are no account fees and customer service is excellent, with staff always available by phone or online live chat. Opening an account with Barclays is very easy: you can even do it with your phone, taking a video selfie and uploading a photo of your ID.
Barclays values its customers with its Blue Rewards program, where you will receive cash rewards and other benefits when you use your account. Online banking is also easy to use, with the Barclays mobile app particularly handy. Not only can you check your account and make payments on the go, but the app reveals what you tend to spend money on each month, which can be really helpful. Add to all this Barclays’ range of savings accounts and this bank has plenty of advantages.
Another major UK bank, Lloyds Bank also offers its customers a free account with customer service always on hand, by phone and online. As you’d expect from a leading bank, there’s a comprehensive mobile app you can download which will give you an instant overview of how much you have in your account and what you’ve spent. It’s easy to set up an organized overdraft if you need it: the Lloyds website offers an eligibility calculator, so you can find out your chances of being accepted before going through the actual application process.
You can choose between higher tier accounts such as the Club Lloyds account which is free as long as you pay at least £1500 into your account each month. This account includes additional benefits such as free movie tickets and movie rentals. There are also a number of savings accounts, the details of which are clearly stated on the website.
Halifax is an extremely popular financial institution in the UK and for good reason. The bank prides itself on excellent customer service and it is possible to apply for your free current account online in 10 minutes. The account includes a lucrative benefit in the form of a 15% cashback scheme. By activating this option and using your Halifax debit or credit card to make purchases at certain retailers, you will receive money in your account at the end of the following month.
Of course, Halifax has a quick and easy-to-use mobile app that lets you monitor your balance, pay your bills, and manage your day-to-day expenses. You can also set up an organized overdraft for free, with the online eligibility calculator allowing you to easily check where you stand. Halifax offers a savings account, mortgages, and home insurance, making it a one-stop-shop for almost all of your financial needs.
Starling Bank is part of the new breed of online-only banks that have grown in recent years to challenge the dominance of traditional institutions like Barclays and Halifax. It offers all the convenience you expect from a digital business and allows you to create a free account in minutes with your phone. Also, just because it’s an online bank doesn’t mean you can’t discuss your account with real human beings, thanks to the 24-hour staff.
This bank has an excellent mobile application, which allows you to closely monitor your money inflows and outflows and also provides information on your spending habits. Like its rivals, it offers overdrafts and loans and it even has excellent green credentials, being the first UK bank to offer debit cards made from recycled plastic.
How to send money from your bank home
Once you’ve set up your new bank account, you can use Remitly to send money to loved ones in your home country without having to deal with unclear exchange rates or high transfer fees. To do this, follow these simple steps.