A step-by-step guide to opening a bank account in the UK
This guide has been written to provide you with all of the information you need know and consider when opening a bank account in the UK. We will cover:
- Different types of accounts available
- What to consider when choosing a UK bank account
- The process of opening a UK bank account
- Popular UK Banks
There are several types of bank accounts available so, before you open a bank account, you need to know what type of account is right for your needs. For example, you may need a current account to receive your wage or salary into, or to pay bills and rent/mortgage payments from, or you may want to open a savings account to work towards a particular financial goal. To help you, here are some things to ask yourself:
- What do you need the bank account for?
- Does the account pay interest?
- Do you need access to an overdraft?
- Are you willing to pay for additional features and benefits?
- Are you looking for a joint account?
Different types of accounts available
To help you determine the type of account that best fits your needs, we’ve detailed the types of accounts available and some information about each:
Standard Current Accounts
These are the normal current accounts with all the standard features
Packaged Current Accounts
These are current accounts with additional benefits and features. A monthly fee usually applies for packaged current accounts.
ISA stands for Individual Savings Account. The main difference between an ISA and standard savings accounts is that ISA’s offer tax-free interest payments, so you could get more for your money.
Basic Bank Accounts
These accounts offer a place for you to store your money and pay bills from. They are primarily designed for people with low credit scores and do not come with overdrafts.
These are accounts to simply store your money in and earn interest.
These are accounts designed exclusively for university students. They are based on the standard accounts however, students are treated to benefits such as interest-free overdrafts.
The purpose of these accounts is to give graduates a few years to pay off what they owe before it starts gaining interest
These accounts enable people who work and/or live abroad to access their money from other countries.
Joint Bank Accounts
A joint bank account is an account that you can share with your partner, housemates, or family. If you are looking to open a joint account, the bank will require you to provide their information, proof of identity and proof of address (just like opening a standard account as described previously above). All the account holders will be able to make transactions, have a bank card, and pay money in.
The majority of doctors relocating to the UK will usually apply for either a current account, joint account, packaged account or a savings/ ISA account.
What to consider when choosing a UK bank account
Now that you’ve identified the type of account that you need, you need to decide who to bank with. We’ve listed some things for you to consider when comparing and choosing a bank:
Does the bank have a good reputation?
Reputation matters. Before committing to a bank, you should research how real customers have rated their experiences. Which? survey thousands of current account customers each year and ask them to rate the service they receive. You can see their findings here.
Are they accessible?
- When choosing who to bank with, it’s important to check how accessible they are; Not every bank will have a branch based near you and some (although few!) do not offer internet banking.
- Do they offer telephone, internet, and/or mobile banking?
- Branch service: if you prefer to go into a branch, you will want to choose a bank that you can easily get to
- Cashpoint access: If you need cash, do they have ATM’s available for you to access, free of charge?
What are their fees, charges, and overdraft costs?
Fees can vary between banks and the different accounts, so you should be clear on what each banks charges and costs are before applying for an account with them. For example, one of the highest fees people encounter is for going over their agreed overdraft limit. If you regularly spend more than you have in your account, you may want to choose a bank that gives you an overdraft up to an agreed limit without charging fees.
Interest rates on credit balances
Check that interest rates are offered on the account that you need and, if so, compare the interest rates on offer between other banks.
Do they offer any incentives?
Most banks offer deals to attract new customers. These may include a cash incentive, a higher interest rate for a period or a monthly credit.
You want to have a bank that is easily contactable if needed. Be sure to research how easy is it to get in touch with them, and whether they offer phone, email, and social media support!
The process of opening a UK bank account
Once you’ve decided on who you would like to bank with, you will need to apply to open an account with them.
With most banks, you can apply to do this in person (by visiting the branch), by phone or via their website.
In your application, you’ll be asked to verify who you are & where you live. You’ll also need to provide the bank with the below information:
Personal details – such as your name, date of birth, contact information, nationality, and NI Number.
Proof of identity – such as your passport or driving licence.
Proof of address – such as a tenancy agreement, a council tax bill, or a recent utility bill. Note that some banks may require you to evidence how long you’ve lived at that address.
Depending the type of account that you are applying to open, and the bank that you have chosen, the bank may run a credit check.
Your application will then be reviewed, and you’ll be notified on the outcome. The bank will usually advise you on how long this process should take.
If accepted, the bank will post your card and pin number – Note that most banks will post these separately.
Finally, you will need to activate your card. Again, with most banks, you can do this online, by phone, or by visiting a branch directly.
Popular UK banks
Here are some suggestions of the most popular bank accounts chosen by international doctors:
If you are interested in working in the UK, want to discuss available job opportunities or may have already begun your journey and need further advice, please contact our team today.