List of Banks In The UK | With A Guide To Opening A Bank Account

Whether you come to the UK to study or work, as long as you come to live in here, everyone had better get a UK bank account. This is not only convenient for you to spend money in the UK, but you can also use your bank letter as a Proof of Address in the future. Students who just came to the UK may need to be made aware of what banks are available in the UK. This blog will introduce you to a list of banks in UK and provide tips on opening a bank account. These banks have several branches in the UK and are relatively easy to use.

The Leading List of Banks in UK


HSBC's full name is "Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited." Founded in Hong Kong in 1865, it is one of the world's largest banks. Focusing on multinational financial services, headquartered in London.
Search for your nearest HSBC


Founded in 1765 in Birmingham, England. The bank has branches throughout England and Wales and is known for its logo featuring a black horse. Known as the 'Pony Bank'.
Search for your nearest Lloyds


TSB and Lloyds used to be the same bank, called Lloyds TSB but were "separated" into two separate banks in 2013.TSB is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Search for your nearest TSB


Barclays is one of the most reputable banks in the UK, founded in 1896 and headquartered in London, with branches in every major city in the UK.
Search for your nearest Barclays

Santander UK

Santander UK is the UK division of the Spanish Santander Group, founded in 2010. The UK division's Headquarters is in London.
Search for your nearest Santander

Bank of Scotland

Lloyds-owned bank, based in Edinburgh. One of the most common banks in Scotland, founded in 1695.
Search for your nearest Bank of Scotland


Founded in Edinburgh in 1727, it is also Scotland's largest banking and financial institution. The full name is Royal Bank of Scotland, headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Search for your nearest RBS


NatWest was founded in 1968 and came under the RBS umbrella in 2000 due to the merger of National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank. The full name is National Westminster Bank, which serves England and is headquartered in London.
Search for your nearest NatWest


The Lloyds-owned bank, a division of Bank of Scotland. Founded in 1853 and is headquartered in Halifax, a small town in West Yorkshire, England. It is the largest bank in the UK offering buy-to-let loans and savings accounts.
Search for your nearest Halifax

Open Account in List of Banks in UK

Factors to consider when choosing a bank

There is a wide choice of a list of banks in UK, all of which are the same in product offerings. Some universities will take new students uniformly to a designated bank to open an account. Still, if you need to make your own decision, apart from going through a friend’s recommendation, you should focus on the following points when you first come to the UK to get your first UK bank account:

  1. Whether the bank is close to you place or University so you can go there quiacly.
  2. Whether the bank offers you a free account, as some banks charge for their accounts.
  3. How much interest the bank offers you on your savings account.

Choice of bank card

Every bank in the UK offers a variety of types of accounts, some for international students, some free, some paid, some cashback, some points, some savings cards, some credit cards and so on; we have previously summarised the common types of bank accounts in the UK for you. If you have just come to the UK, you can open a Current Account that accepts international remittances, cash withdrawals and online spending, plus a Savings Account would be best. Once familiar with the UK, ask your bank what better financial options are available. It’s also possible to close the account anytime if you’re unhappy with your current bank.

How do I open an account?

Once you’ve decided which bank to open an account with, you must make an appointment at a branch. When you make your appointment, ask what documents you must bring with you, usually your passport, a letter from your school, and your Proof of Address (for those who have just arrived in the UK, your housing contract can be used as proof of address). On the day of the account opening, the staff will ask you what kind of account you want to open and assist you in filling in the application form. Once your application has been submitted, you can wait to be notified if the account has been successfully opened.

After the account is successfully opened, the bank will send a letter to your provided address, including your card and password (usually, cards and passwords are sent separately). You can activate the account to use Online Banking services when you receive it. We recommend opening an online banking account with Online Banking or Mobile Banking so that you can manage your account anytime, anywhere, even if you are not in the UK and cannot visit your bank.

How to transfer money by UK bank card

Transferring money within the UK

It is effortless to transfer money within the UK. All you need to know is the following information about the other party’s account and then log on to your mobile phone or online banking to transfer the money:

  • the name of the person you are transferring money to, which is the same as the name on your bank card
  • 6-digit Sort Code, usually on the bottom left of the card, in the form of xx-xx-xx.
  • 8-digit Account Number
  • Date or time of payment
  • Payment Reference, this is to let the payee know that the money is transferred by you; you can write your name.
  • Some places may also need to know the name and address of the bank.

Transferring money from abroad

When you come to the UK, if your family want to send money from another country (commonly known as a ‘telegraphic transfer’), you will need to know the following information about your UK bank account:

  • your name
  • the name and address of your bank
  • your bank account number
  • IBAN and SWIFT. You can find IBAN on your Bank Statement, SWIFT number can be found by logging into your bank’s official website. You can also ask your bank directly.

Precautions of List of Banks in UK

1. When you open an account, you can ask the bank to provide your international bank account’s IBAN and SWIFT numbers so your family can send you money.

2. Just in case, for example, you are worried that you are not satisfied with your bank or you need to cancel your bank account in the future when you return to your home country, please ask at the time of opening the account what should you do with the account when returning home. Please enquire at the time of account opening about what to do with your account when you return to your home country, such as how to close the account entirely and transfer money from your UK account back to your home country.

3. Each Current Account is attached to a bank card with an expiry date. When it expires, the bank will send you a new card (usually with the same password). Please update your address in time to avoid not receiving any letters, bills or new cards from the bank.

This is a long blog because getting a bank card is essential for everyone. Hopefully, it will help you to choose the bank easier. If you’ve encountered any problems with the account opening process or have any considerations you’d like to share with others, please leave them in the comments section below.

For more tips on living in the UK, please read our other blogs.


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