Im from Australia and moving over...
I am with Westpac bank in Aus and apparently Barclays is its sister bank in the UK. I will need to open an account there but would like to know, is it a good bank? What documentation will I need to open an account there and are there many of these banks and atms around??
I'm with HSBC in Australia, and I was told that if I wanted to open an account with a HSBC bank overseas, that they would give me a letter of introduction. Have a chat to Westpac and they might be able to do the same. Barclays banks and their ATMs are everywhere - I saw plenty of them not only in the UK, but in Eastern Africa as well!
I think the letter of introduction is a good idea. I worked with an Australian girl at a UK bank and even though they were happy to employ her, they made her jump through hoops to let her open a bank account! There are a lot of regulations on opening bank accounts here to prevent fraud (I couldn't believe how easy it was to open an account in NZ). I think you'll need your passport and proof of UK address (utility bill or similar) at the minimum.
I'm not sure what Barclays is like as a bank but I know they were the only one to introduce fees for using ATM a few years ago (they may have scrapped this charge now as it was so unpopular) so I avoid them like the plague.
There are loads of banks and to be honest they are all much of a muchness I suspect. As long as they are a member of LINK you can use your bank card at any ATM. There is a massive ATM network across the UK and you will find branches of the bigger banks in most towns. As the banking system here has been suffering in the credit crunch, many of them are now actually the same company as the struggling ones were bought out by the bigger players (have listed below)
Lloyds/Halifax/Bank of Scotland
Clydesdale (think Scotland only - owned by NAB)
I would recommend Nationwide which is actually a building society (I don't work for them btw!) - they allow free withdrawals from ATM in European countries (which is great if you are thinking of doing some trips while you are in the UK) and have a good online banking system. Their branch network is limited to the main cities in Scotland but I think it's a bit more extensive in England.
Hope that helps,
I heard that Nationwide have actually stopped their free withdrawals abroad. Is this true?
Still ok in Europe but outside of there they have passed on the 1% fee which Visa charges them. I think it is still the best option as far as rates go though. I think there are a few new terms and conditions they have added to open a Flex Account which is the one which gives the free european withdrawals but apparently there are ways around them - check out moneysavingexpert for more details.
Coming from a NZ or Aus and trying to open a bank account is a nightmare you can do it from Aus before you even get here and is a lot wuicker and easier . Try Visafirst who will charge you to do it -
Visa First UK Bank Account
If you have any friends that have worked in the UK, you will already know that it can be quite a lengthy process to get your UK bank account set up. There are a number of different options open to you . Visa First offers an account which is activated within 3 days of arrival in the UK provided you have some sort of a residential address you can use there. This can be a friend, relative or employer. Visa First provide you with all of the documents you need to ensure this account is opened as fast as possible. You will also be able to transfer money to this account before you leave Australia.
go to the LLoyds International website and you can do it there by yourself - forms can be quite confusing but for the cost of a phone call they will help you and save you some money, the advantage is that they will send you your card etc to Aus if you have enough time and you don't have to faff about with banks when you get here like you do with Visa First. It is a nightmare doing it after you have arrived - take it from me , I have done it both ways !
Great advice Midge! thanks so much!
I am from Canada and I have an account with Barclays , all you need is a letter from your employeer and your passport and you should be alright , I had no trouble having thoes things.