Opening a Bank Account in the UK

If you are going to be in the UK for more than a few months, opening a bank account is a good idea. You can use it to pay bills, make purchases, write cheques and withdraw cash. Above all, it keeps your money safe. You should apply for an account as soon as you arrive because it can take three weeks or more to set up.

When you open your account, you will need to show the bank your passport or national photo ID card, as well as your acceptance letter or introduction from your college or university. You may also need to provide bank statements from your home country account. There may be other requirements, so contact the bank before you arrive in Britain to ensure that you don't leave home without essential information. For more information, you can also contact the British Bankers Association.


Banks in the UK

There are many different banks in Britain. The main ones are HSBC, Barclays Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Barclays Bank and HSBC both do special international student packages; visit their websites for more information.

You may be able to prevent tax being deducted from your interest. When you open your account, ask your bank for form R105. Remember to let your bank know if you leave the country for a trip; they may think you have left forever and close your account. Also, let the bank know in writing if you change your address.

An alternative and possibly less well-known type of bank account, is a basic bank account. The basic bank account alternative from thinkmoney is a good example of how an account could be beneficial for students. The account has a built-in money management system, meaning the money for your monthly bills is set aside automatically, leaving you with access to your disposable money only. Hopefully, this will encourage you to stick to a budget. Also, like most basic bank accounts, there is no overdraft facility available so there's less temptation to get further into debt.

If a bank refuses to let you open an account, you can contact the National Union of Students (NUS), which may be able to help you challenge the decision.

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