Open a UK current account without a UK address or credit history
How do you open a bank account if you’ve only just arrived in the UK and you don’t have a fixed address, or any kind of established credit history here?
Not having a bank account makes it impossible (or extremely difficult) to receive payments, pay bills and… rent a property. It’s a vicious circle.
The situation is familiar to Britons who have traveled abroad to live or work for a few years. First job, even before you look in estate agents for “rooms to rent” is: Open A Bank Account.
Monese is a UK-based app-only banking service that allows you to open up a current account quickly with no credit checks or proof of address necessary.
Effectively it’s a prepaid card that acts like a bank account.
It was founded in 2015 by Estonian fintech entrepreneur Norris Keppel, who says that when he moved to the UK his application for a current account at a high street bank was turned down because he couldn’t provide proof of a local address, and had no credit history in the UK. He purportedly vowed to set up a banking service that would work differently.
A work colleague arrived from New Zealand and couldn’t get paid for over a month as he wasn’t able to open a UK bank account straight away.
How do I open an account?
- You send in a selfie video and a picture of an ID document, such as a passport.
- The account service is open to anyone living in the European Economic Area (EAA) – which is all the countries in the EU plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
Can I do the same things as with a standard bank account?
I live in Spain and can’t have a UK account without a UK address, yet I sometimes work for two publishers (Oxford University Press and Pearson) who insist on paying into a UK bank account.
It is possible for a Briton living in the UK to have a Spanish bank account without a Spanish address, yet the banks in the UK don’t reciprocate unless you are a “wealth” or “investment” client.
- You can receive payments in from the UK in sterling
- You can pay friends, family and bills with direct transfers from your phone
- You can set up direct debits and standing orders
- You can take cash out at ATMs in the UK and internationally
- You get a contactless debit card
- Control over your account via the smartphone app
And extra features?
- You can receive European bank transfers
- Sending money overseas is up to 88% cheaper than using a traditional bank
- You can set up a parallel account in Europe and switch instantly between accounts
I need to receive payments in Euros for contract work that I do for a European clients. I want to be able to hold it in Euros because I regularly travel to Germany and Greece to visit those clients.
Does it cost anything?
The free basic account: direct debits are free, there are charges for Post Office and PayPoint deposits, you need to pay £4.95 for the contactless card, cash withdrawals are £1 or €1 (depending on where you are), top-ups cost 0.35-3.5%, and the currency exchange fee is 2%.
The Plus account costs £4.95 a month: the contactless card is free, direct debits are free, you get 6 free cash withdrawals monthly, there are charges for Post Office and PayPoint deposits, top-ups cost 0.35-3.5%, the currency exchange fee is 0.5%.
The Premium account costs £14.95 a month: no ATM or top-up fees.
Is it safe?
Monese doesn’t hold a full banking licence, so your money isn’t protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Monese holds your cash in a separate account, which is ring-fenced from its own finances. If Monese went bust, you should be able to get your money back – though it’s not FSCS-protected, and if the ring-fencing bank went under, your money could be lost.