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How to open a bank account in the UK.
There has been a recent upsurge in Nigerians moving to the United Kingdom for study or work purposes. Between 2019 & 2021, there was a recorded 415.3% rise in the number of approved UK study visas to Nigerians.
With the UK becoming an increasingly famous destination for Nigerians who choose to relocate to the diaspora, we prepared this detailed guide on how to open a bank account in the UK. It’s sure to come in handy if you or someone you know is preparing to move there.
What you need to open a bank account in the United Kingdom.
When opening a traditional bank account in the UK, whether in-branch or online, you will typically be asked to provide two documents that serve as proof of your identity and address. While your passport will suffice to prove your identity, having a document to prove your address might be more tricky.
The documents that usually serve as proof of address in the UK include a recent utility bill, council tax bill, and rental contract among others, which you are not likely to have if you just moved there.
However, a number of banks are more flexible with the documents they require as proof of address. If you are in the UK to study, some banks might accept a letter from your University’s admissions office confirming your address.
Types of UK Bank accounts.
Current account: This is your day-to-day account. When you open a current account, you get a debit card and also access to overdraft facilities depending on your circumstances.
Basic banking account: A basic banking account is a type of current account. However, it’s targeted toward people who are low-income earners or have a poor credit record.
Savings account: As the name implies, these are accounts specifically for saving money. They tend to offer interest unlike current accounts.
Bank options in the United Kingdom.
There are two options you can opt-in for when trying to set up a bank account in the UK:
High street banks: “High street bank” is a term used to refer to the traditionally established banks in the United Kingdom with physical branches across the country. Some of the biggest high street banks are Barclays, Lloyds, NatWest and HSBC.
Pros of High street banks:
Access to overdraft facilities and insurance.
Access to mortgage options.
Cons of High street banks:
It’s not easy to set up an account as a foreigner without proof of address.
Limited support: They mostly operate within banking hours, and customer support is not very reliable outside of that time period.
Online banks: Also known as neo-banks or challenger banks. Online banks are characterised by the fact that they do not have physical branches, with all their banking services being completely online.
While online banks in the UK offer a more limited range of services when compared to high-street banks, they tend to be easier to set up/navigate. Some of the most prominent challenger banks in the UK are Monzo, Revolut, Monese, Starling bank. Wise, a money transfer platform, also has a multi-currency account feature that works like an online bank.
Pros of online banks:
Easy to set up. You usually don’t need proof of address to set up an account with an online bank.
They are great for mobile payments.
Support is generally available 24/7.
Cons of online banks:
No overdraft facilities or insurance.
When newly arriving in the UK. It’s relatively easier to get started by creating an account with an online bank like Revolut or Monese pending when you can provide a proof of address document for a high street bank to gain access to credit facilities, etc.
Also, if you need to send money back home after settling down, you can easily do so with Sendcash.
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