Every country has their own banking rules and terminology, and Britain is not exempt from these. To help your transition to the UK and make opening your UK bank account a little easier, here are some quick banking tips.
Banking tips for expats new to the United Kingdom
Learn the banking lingo
If you ask someone where the nearest ATM is so you can draw some cash, they may look at you a little strangely. In the UK all ATMs are called ‘holes in the wall’ or occasionally cash machines. If you’re used to paying fees whenever you draw money, you’ll be pleased to know that most ‘holes in the wall’ in the UK allow you to draw money for free. If they don’t, they’ll clearly mention it up front.
An Internet bank or a high street bank?
When choosing a bank in the UK, you need to be aware there are two different types. A high street bank is one you’ll find as you walk down your local high street. These banks will serve you both in person, by phone or offer you online services via their digital websites or apps.
Internet banks don’t have any presence on the high street and you deal with them via a phone service or through their website. The advantages that internet banks offer include preferential rates and lower costs due to the lack of their brick and mortar upkeep. Opening a bank account with them is often easier, requiring less paperwork and they are accessible out of hours and on bank holidays.
The benefits of a basic bank account
If you have recently arrived in the UK and want to set up a bank account quickly, the basic bank account might be your best option. Basic bank accounts don’t offer you any overdraft or cheque facilities, but give you a place to deposit your money, have your salary paid into, set up direct debits and offer you easy cash withdrawals from the many ATMs available.
Upgrading to a current account
Basic bank accounts are ideal if you haven’t yet established a credit history in the UK. Once you have a good credit history, you might want to upgrade to a current bank account, which generally comes with overdraft facilities and a chequebook. If you do have a current cheque account, it’s important to note that some banks will charge you a fee for processing a cheque or if your account becomes overdrawn.
The next step up from a current account is one of the packaged accounts. These do come with a monthly charge, but offer additional benefits, which can include car breakdown cover and insurance.
Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
There are wide ranges of savings accounts available and many banks require a minimum deposit to open one. Once you’ve lived in the UK long enough to be regarded as a resident, you are entitled to open an Individual Savings Account (ISA), which allows you to enjoy tax-free interest on your savings – up to a certain investment amount.
If you’re planning on immigrating to the UK or any other country and need financial advice, contact us today and we’ll help you maximise your finances in your new home.
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