Best Bank Accounts in the United Kingdom: Our Top Picks

Compare the best options on the market and choose the one which best adapts to your day-to-day needs.

Further Below: Our Guide To Bank Accounts in the UK, Everything you need to know.

Best Overall Bank Account

Our Rating: 9.5/10 Read Full Review

✔️ No monthly fees
✔️ Awarded “Best British Bank” over the last 3 years
✔️ Access to the entire Post Office network to deposit cash
✔️ Easy integration and access to more complex financial services

Starling Bank

Best Account for Travellers and International Transfers

Our Rating: 9.3/10 Read Full Review

✔️ Excellent app interface and money management features
✔️ Standard account is completely free
✔️ Access to purchasing stocks, cryptocurrencies and commodities
✔️ Great cashback offers and discounts on top brands
✔️ Higher tiers of accounts come with excellent perks and insurance


Best Traditional Bank

Our Rating: 9.2/10 Read Full Review

✔️ Huge ATM and physical branch network
✔️ A great all-in-one bank that can provide you with all the financial services you would ever need
✔️ Good selection of different accounts to suit your specific need
✔️ Extremely low fees, if any
✔️ One of the oldest and most respected banking institutions in the world


Things to know about UK Bank Accounts

Just a quick 2 min read about the most common issues we see with our readers:

How do I open a bank account in the UK?

Opening a checking account with a bank in the UK differs a lot in difficulty between banks. If you open with one of the traditional banks, you will likely have to book an appointment with one of their branches online or via call beforehand.

Once that is done, the actual appointment itself will take 20-30 minutes. The bank account can then open either within a few days or longer depending on the bank you sign up with. 

Even if you try to set things up online with these banks (if they offer it), usually you will end up having to go to a local branch anyways to verify your identity before you can actually use the account.

Digital Banks like Starling Bank or Revolut offer sign-up processes that are usually much shorter. And they can be done from the comfort of your phone or laptop where you can scan your documents using your webcam or phone camera. 

But usually there are some information or document requirements which may vary from bank to bank. If you follow this list, you should be pretty safe.

Usual requirements for opening checking accounts in the UK:

  • Completed application form with Name, Address, Nationality, Income, etc
  • Valid Passport, ID or Visa (if you are opening a joint account with another person, make sure they have their documents too)
  • Proof of address or registration (like a recent utility or council tax bill less than 3 months old)
  • Initial Deposit (depends on your bank how much they will require as a minimum)
  • Proof of income, employment, or enrolment at a UK educational institution

Whether you are a UK resident or not will also affect what type of current account you can have (“resident” or “non-resident” account) and which banks you can sign up with. 

It’s best to check out their websites or speak with them directly to find out. They’re usually very helpful in giving you the information you need.

International online banks like Revolut usually tend to be the easiest and most open to non-residents, but it’s also worth checking out local ones like Barclays or HSBC.

How to close or change bank accounts in the UK

Closing or switching bank accounts is pretty simple to do in the UK as long as you don’t owe the bank any money. 

To change bank accounts, you should use the “Current Account Switch Service” which most UK banks are signed up to. This makes your switching very easy as your old bank handles the closing and transferring of all your orders and details over to your new bank. 

To just close the account, for a traditional bank you normally have to just let them know you wish to close and you will be asked to fill out and sign a “closing account order” application. 

If you have a joint account, make sure the names and signatures of all the account holders are contained within the application.

You can either visit a physical branch or call them and they’re usually very friendly in helping you out in closing your account. 

Make sure to ask that you’re following all the correct requirements and don’t have any fees that you have not paid off yet. 

Things you have to make sure to do are: 

  • Make sure you don’t get charged any penalty fees for closing the account before a specified “minimum” time has elapsed since you opened the account.
  • Get written confirmation in the form of a letter or email that the account has officially been closed
  • If you’re switching over to a new account, transfer over all future incoming and outgoing payments such as direct debits, salaries, or standing orders. Usually, either the old bank or the new bank that your switching to will take care of this if you ask.
  • Make sure you’ve transferred all your money out of the old account and into the new account.
  • Let your employer and, others who would transfer money to you, know that your old account will no longer work.

Wrapping up

So overall you can see, choosing a bank account can be hard at first, but becomes easier if you know what exactly that you want. So try to make a list of the things that are important to you such as language or having physical branches, etc.

Then, try visiting their websites or even physical branches if they have any, to check out the different accounts (if they have more than one) and other products that they offer. You should be able to get a feeling for the banks pretty quickly and which one suits you.

If you feel comfortable with these banks you may even want to get more products from them like a savings account to earn interest on your money.

Once you’ve developed a relationship with your bank, later on, you might even get, business account, loan or mortgage from them once you develop a bit of credit history that they can evaluate you on.

But don’t worry too much about it if you end up opening an account with a bank which you don’t end up liking later. Banks in the UK allow you to close an account and switch over to another pretty easily and without a hassle.

Keep in mind though that I personally find it very useful to have two checking accounts instead of just one. So that in case there is ever an issue with one, you can still access your money in the other, so you’re not left stranded with no money.

Personally, I’ve become a fan of the online digital banks because of how simple and easy it is to do everything with banks like Starling Bank or Revolut from the comfort of my phone or laptop. But of course, you should only do so if you’re comfortable with doing all your banking online. 

On the other hand, online banks tend to not offer more complex financial management services like loans, health insurance or mortgages that would find at a traditional bank. So if you want some of those more complex products, you might need to look at more traditional banks like Barclays or HSBC.

But don’t worry. You can easily have a checking account at an online bank and still have other more complex products from other banks.

If you’re arriving in Italy soon, make sure to sort out your bank account sooner rather than later in case there are any delays, depending on the bank you sign up with. Life will be a lot more difficult if you don’t have one.

In the end, it is up to you and what you need that will decide which is the best bank for you. Hopefully this article will have helped you with it.

Good luck with opening a bank account in the UK. If you have any questions or want us to write another post on something else too, let us know here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a foreigner or non-resident open a bank account in the UK?

A person of any nationality can open a bank account in Italy, but some banks might require at least a residence in the UK or in the EU/EFTA region depending on the accounts available. 

If you are a non-resident, you will only be able to open a non-resident current account and you will be usually subject to higher interest rates and might be limited in some services at traditional banks.

Usually, it tends to be the online banks that are the most open with residence requirements and some even allow residence from pretty much anywhere in the world.

But, it is important to check with a bank yourself if they accept your country of residence. You can usually do so on the website or during the sign-up process.

Can I have two bank accounts in the UK?

Yes, you can have as many bank accounts as you like in the UK. Just be aware of the extra hassle and possibly extra cost if you go for accounts that charge monthly fees.

Even if you go with a “free” account as the extra one, check that you keep meeting the minimum flow of income if it is required to keep them from charging you a fee. 

Can I keep my UK bank account even after I leave the UK?

Yes, you can keep your UK bank accounts even after you leave the UK but be aware of some changes that might happen with how you handle your account.

Your tax status may change, or some banks may not be able to send you important notifications and PIN numbers if you change to a foreign number. But these things vary a lot from bank to bank and its best to ask them and they should be happy to help. Overall it’s usually very helpful to keep your account since you might come in handy later.

But you have to make sure you fill all of their ‘know your customer’ due diligence requirements of the bank to prove you’re not laundering money. However, this is very simple to do and you can just ask them directly.

How long do applications for bank accounts in the UK take?

Once you’ve booked and arrived at the appointment made at the physical branch, standard traditional banks usually take anywhere from 2 days to even over a week to approve and open a new bank account. 

They usually tend to take longer than digital banks since they sometimes need to send you documents to your address.

Online digital banks instead usually approve and open your bank account for you within 24 hours.

How can I set up an overdraft?

The process to set up an overdraft will depend on the bank itself and will often have very different policies and requirements. Usually, you have to complete an overdraft application form in order to set up the facility for an overdraft in case you might need it.

Digital banks tend to reply and approve/reject your application within a few days or even within the same day. On the other end, traditional banks can sometimes take weeks to process your application.

Banks will also differ in the amount they allow for you to have on your overdraft. Some will allow a fixed amount or an amount relative to your average net monthly income.

But be careful with your overdraft and make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible to avoid the interest charges (which vary from bank to bank).

What is the minimum age to open a bank account in the UK?

Usually, banks require a minimum age of 11 to up to 16 in order to open your own bank account, but this can vary from bank to bank, especially for digital banks.

The types of bank accounts and features available also differ according to age (e.g if they are 12 years old rather than 17 years old)

Normally, banks tend to allow parents or legal guardians to open bank accounts for their children if they are under the age of 18. 

Can I open a bank account for my children?

Yes, you can open a bank account for your child if he/she is under the age of 18. Remember that you will need to provide the ID or Passport for both you and your child. Some banks might require that the parent needs to already have an account with the same bank too.

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