The Best Bank Accounts in the United Kingdom in just one more click

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

Further below you’ll find our Things to know about bank accounts in the United Kingdom as well as our frequently asked questions.

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Best Overall Bank Account

✔️ 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 Review

Starling Bank is one of the largest and most well-known challenger banks in the UK, even being awarded “Best British Bank” over the last 3 consecutive years.

The founder of Starling Bank sought to create a bank account that has everything you would want from a full UK Bank account, but with none of the things you don’t want.

That means no fees, no having to deal with physical bank branches, but with all the access to money management features, Mastercard debit card, 24/7 support and easy access and integration with other financial services and products such as loans and insurance.

Signing up with this bank is quick and easy, but you need to be aged 16 upwards and a UK resident.

Once you have it, with the Mastercard debit card you can make up to six withdrawals per day for free (with a max of £300 per day). You will also have access to over 11,500 Post Office branches at which you can deposit money. 

So, this definitely puts it ahead of other mobile banks that have limited access points for you to deposit cash.

Its money management features are also extremely useful and easy to use, such as automatic saving via rounding up all of your payments, instant push notifications when any transaction happens with your account, etc. 

All to make sure you’re in complete control of your finances.

They even have a feature that allows you to send payments and settle bills with other nearby Starling Bank users without even having to know their account details. Which definitely saves some time when you’re trying to send a payment to a friend.

What really helps to make Starling Bank useful is it’s ‘Marketplace’. 

One of the common issues some people might have with challenger banks is that you don’t necessarily have access to more complex financial products that one might want, since challenger banks are usually simplified banks.

But with Starling Bank, they’ve made your life a lot easier by partnering up with providers, granting you easy access to products like mortgages, insurance, pensions, ISAs and more. 

Starling Bank is also backed by the FSCS, protecting deposits of up to £85,000. So your money can definitely feel safe in case anything ever happens to the bank itself.! 

They even have a dedicated Euro bank account to make sure you’re covered if you need to receive or send payments in Euros with a very low conversion fee.

Starling Bank Bottom Line:

All in all, Starling Bank is an excellent option as a bank in the UK, with excellent features for little to no costs whatsoever. It has a reputation for excellent customer service, built upon offering a great product that circumvents many of the limitations that normal challenger banks face.

It provides excellent integration with more complex financial products via its marketplace, allows you to deposit cash via the huge Post Office network, and gives you all the great money management features you would ever want. 

The only downside could be if you prefer talking to someone face-to-face since they don’t have any physical branches. But since they have 24/7 support, you shouldn’t ever have any problems speaking to someone about any questions or issues you might have. Also, it should be noted that it is only available to UK residents.

Our Rating: 9.1/10

Best Account for travelers and international transfers

✔️ 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

Revolut Bank Review

Revolut is probably the most famous challenger bank to emerge from the UK with greatly deserved success. 

Starting back in 2015 as just a basic travel card, Revolut has grown to an almost fully-fleded neobank that can provide you with almost any current account banking service you would want, and more.

Revolut is one of the best banking apps to have when it comes to money management and saving since you can set up automatic saving, budgets, weekly spending insights, and real-time push notifications every time a transaction from your account occurs.

All of this makes it a lot easier to be in complete control and manage your finances easily from one place in your phone. With Open Banking, you can even connect your other bank accounts to the Revolut app and manage things from the same application.

With Revolut you’ll also get access to amazing cashback and daily discounts with their partners in things like travel, retail, restaurants and more. So this will definitely help you save on money.

They pride themselves on you being able to transfer money internationally in any of their currencies without any hidden fees, using the real interbank exchange rate to make sure you don’t have to deal with pesky fees that other banks would charge you.

What is also cool with Revolut is that you can even buy cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and exchange it into any fiat currency easily.

Beyond this, you can even gain access to buying commodities like gold or stocks like Apple or Microsoft via the app. Making access to the financial markets extremely easy for the everyday consumer.

Revolut also prides themselves in being one of the most secure places for your money as their award-winning anti-fraud system protects you from fraudulent transactions even better than traditional banks.

Additionally, the accounts also come with accounts you can manage and give access to your children, called “Revout Junior”, so that your children can start learning financial management and responsibility from a young age. 

Their service comes in 3 tiers of accounts. 

The Standard account is completely free, granting you access to all of the main benefits of Revolut without you ever having to spend a penny.

The Premium account costs £6.99 per month, with which you increase or even remove the limits on all of the services you had in the Standard account. On top of that, you gain access to multiple layers of insurance relating to travel such as medical, bagged, delayed flight and winter sports insurance. 

If that wasn’t enough, you’ll even gain access to exclusive generous discounts at top brands, free lounge passes for when your flight is ever delayed for over an hour, and free unlimited cross border transfers.

If you want to be showered with perks, then the Metal account is definitely the option for you. Costing only £12.99 per month, you start to earn up to 1% cashback in any currency payments, including cryptocurrencies. 

So if you fill enough volume in payments made monthly anyways, you might even end up saving more than it even costs to have the Metal plan in the first place!

On top of this, you’ll also have additional purchase protection for 180 days against theft and accidental damages as well as priority customer support and extensions to all the services already included in the Premium account. 

For example, the previous airport lounge passes for delayed flights now extend beyond you to include up to 3 friends, or that the free Revolut Junior accounts can extend to up to 5 children now.

Revolut Bottom Line

Overall Revolut is an absolutely excellent banking option in the UK, especially for travellers or those who elsewise have to deal with receiving or sending payments in foreign currencies.

Their app is super simple to use and has security and benefits that are very hard to beat. Their customer satisfaction and service used to not be the absolute best before, but has now massively improved and customers are overall extremely happy with the service that comes with no cost.

Even for those that go for the paid plans, the benefits that come along bring back more than enough value to you that it makes it very much worth it. This is especially true when you can potentially save more money via the cashbacks and discounts than it costs to even pay the monthly fees.

The only possible downside is that you won’t have any in-person face-to-face support and will have to rely on the in-app chat or phone line support. But given they deal with questions or issues pretty well, you shouldn’t have any issues at all.

Our Rating: 8.8/10

Best Traditional Bank

✔️ 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

Barclays Bank Review

One of the largest and most respected banks in the UK, Barclays is another great option for a bank you can trust with a solid reputation.

As can be expected with a large traditional bank, with Barclays you’ll be taking advantage of their huge network of ATMs, so you’ll never have trouble withdrawing cash for free.

Alongside this, given their huge physical branch network, they’ll be very easy to find when trying to set up a bank account on-site everywhere you go in the UK.

Also, if you might ever need them, you’ll have access to a whole wide range of more complex financial products such as mortgages, loans, insurance, etc. 

This makes it a great all-one-bank candidate if you’re looking for one to cover all your potential needs.

Of course, them being a large traditional bank doesn’t mean that they’re not modernized. 

Barclays has an excellent mobile banking app, with money management features such as automatic categorization and tracking of spending, flexible security controls, and access to overdraft features.

With this, in addition to the free Visa Debit card you get, you’ll be on top of your finances and should have no issues handling all of your payments.

Also, Barclays has a wide range of various account types with nice offers, depending on what exactly you need. So it’s definitely a good bank to check out.

Barclays Bottom Line

Overall Barclays is a great traditional bank that makes for a perfect all-in-one candidate if you want all of your potential financial needs to be serviced by the same bank.

It has a wide range of various account offers to fit your exact needs, and have a huge network of physical branches and ATMs so that you’ll never have any issues. 

You’ll find Barclays to be especially beneficial for younger adults and students, as they waive fees entirely for such groups.

Perhaps the only downside is that some of their accounts aren’t completely free for some groups, versus some other banks that may have zero monthly fees across the board for all groups.

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.