Moving to the UK is a big deal, and there will be a lot of information to digest when you start delving into the local banking options. Here at Remitly, we know it can all be a lot to process.
That’s why we’ve put together this quick, handy guide to the factors you should bear in mind when picking a bank in Britain, and some of the top names that you might want to consider.
Key Considerations When Choosing a Bank in the UK
When you’re weighing up the banking options, it’s useful to take a practical and objective approach by applying this checklist of five key considerations.
- Fees – are there monthly account fees? Will the bank charge you for using its ATM machines?
- Ease of set-up – does the bank provide an easy process for setting up an account?
- Ease of use – is it possible to access your account and manage your financial affairs quickly and easily, for example through the bank’s website or mobile app?
- Customer service – is it easy to contact the bank’s customer support team, and do they have staff who can speak your native language?
- Additional features – does the bank offer other useful services beyond a current account, such as overdraft facilities and separate savings accounts?
4 Banks to Consider Joining in the UK
With those considerations in mind, there are some well-known banks which we’d advise all newcomers to the UK to consider. Let’s take a closer look.
Why it wins?
One of the best-known banks in the UK, Barclays has a lot to offer its customers. For one thing, there are no fees charged for having an account, and the customer service is great, with staff always on hand by phone or online live chat. Barclays makes it particularly easy to set up an account – you can even do it through your phone, by taking a video selfie and uploading a photo of your ID.
Barclays makes customers feel valued with its Blue Rewards scheme, where you’ll be given cash rewards and other perks just for using your account. Online banking is easy too, with the Barclays mobile app particularly useful. Not only can you check your account and make payments on the move, but the app usefully reveals what kinds of things you tend to spend money on every month. Add to all of this Barclays’ range of savings accounts, and this bank really does tick a lot of boxes.
Why it wins?
Another major name on the British high street, Lloyds Bank also offers 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 sophisticated mobile app you can download, which will provide an instant look at how much you have in your account and how much you’ve been spending. It’s easy to set up an arranged overdraft if you need one – there’s an eligibility calculator on the Lloyds website, so you can find out your chances of being accepted before going through the actual application process.
You can choose between higher-level accounts such as the Club Lloyds account, which is free as long as you pay at least £1,500 into your account every month. This account comes with added perks like free cinema tickets and movie rentals. There’s also a number of savings accounts on offer, with the details clearly laid out on the website.
Why it wins?
Halifax is a hugely popular financial institution in the UK, and with good reason. It prides itself on its customer service, and it’s possible to apply for your free current account online within 10 minutes. The account comes with a lucrative perk in the form of a 15% cashback scheme. By activating this and using your Halifax debit or credit card to shop at selected retailers, you’ll be given money back into your account at the end of the following month.
Of course, Halifax has a fast, user-friendly mobile app which lets you monitor your balance, pay bills and manage your day to day spending. It’s also free to set up an arranged overdraft, with the online eligibility calculator making it easy to check where you stand. Offering savings account, mortgages and home insurance as well, Halifax is a one-stop shop for pretty much all of your financial requirements.
Why it wins?
Starling Bank is one of the new generation of online-only banks which have risen in recent years to challenge the dominance of traditional institutions like Barclays and Halifax. It offers all the convenience you’d imagine from a digital company, letting you sign up for a free account in minutes through your phone. And just because it’s an online bank doesn’t mean you can’t chat to real human beings about your account, with staff available around the clock.
There’s a fantastic mobile app, which lets you keep a close eye on your in-comings and out-goings and also provides insights on your spending habits. Just like its high street rivals, it offers overdrafts and loans, and it even has great green credentials, being the first UK bank to offer debit cards made from recycled plastic.
How to send money from your bank back home
Once you’ve set up your new bank account, you can use Remitly to send money to loved ones back home without having to deal with unclear exchange rates or high transfer fees. Follow these easy steps to make it happen.
- Sign up at the Remitly website or through our mobile app
- Select the country you’d like to send to
- Select how you’d like the funds to be received
- Enter your recipient’s details
- Send the money via bank transfer or by linking your bank card to your Remitly account