If you’re thinking of coming to the UK or have already moved here, welcome! There will be lots of things for you to arrange before and after you arrive whether it’s related to your work, where you’re going to live, or even how you will communicate with friends and family back at home once you have settled.
Close to all of those things will be your need for a bank current account to effectively manage your money whilst in the UK and this article aims to help you understand some things about the UK banking system that will hopefully make your move easier. I also hope to help you think about the other facilities you might require from your bank to make your new life in the UK run more smoothly.
In order to manage many aspects of your life such as receive payment from an employer, budget your finances or pay regular bills, it will help if you have a suitable bank account. You may find that banking in the UK is quite different from the way you bank in your home country. It’s helpful to understand some of the key differences so you can manage your money most efficiently. In particular:
You can usually make payments to other UK accounts free of charge through your bank’s branch, telephone banking or internet facilities, or pay for goods or services in most stores using a debit card. When you make a payment do keep in mind that it may not immediately appear on your account statement or be deducted from your balance, and to be safe you should allow four working days for your payment to arrive. Keep this potential delay in mind when tracking your expenses to balance your budget.
- Tracking payments
- Paying regular bills
Paying regular bills is done most easily by setting up a Direct Debit, which is an instruction to your bank to allow a company to collect money from your account on a regular basis. If the bill varies in size each month then the company will amend their collection to take the correct amount. It’s often useful to set up these payments on dates shortly after your account is credited, such as from being paid by your employer, so that you can be confident that you will have sufficient money available to cover the Direct Debit.
Other important services that many new arrivals to the UK tend to want to make use of are the ability to save or invest their money and the ability to transfer money to or from their home country. Depending on your circumstances these may be important factors, especially if you still have family or responsibilities at home or intend to return home at some point in the future. For many customers it is important that they can access these facilities from their chosen bank, so that the process is dealt with 'in-house’ without the need to involve different organisations in the process.
If you need to send money to a family member back home, make payments for your home or just transfer money to an overseas bank account, you will need to use an international payment facility. You should be aware that international money transfers can be subject to a number of different charges including a charge from your UK bank for making the payment, a foreign exchange charge and a charge by the receiving bank for accepting the payment. If you intend to make regular use of international payment facilities, it may be worth considering an international account which can operate in different currencies. In that way you can avoid or reduce some of these charges.
You’ll probably have a lot of expenses following your move to the UK, but at some point you’re likely to want to save money for all sorts of reasons. Typically our customers go through a number of stages in their need to save, from creating a cushion against unforeseen expenses, to saving for a specific purpose such as buying a car, to investing over the longer term for their future. If anything, these needs are felt even more acutely by those arriving in the UK for whom the normal support mechanisms of friends and family are far away.
If you’re building up your savings from scratch you’ll want instant access in case of emergencies – but there are many accounts in the UK which will give instant access and a good rate of return to the regular saver who is prepared to save a fixed amount each month.
Wherever in the UK you’re planning to settle, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful and rewarding experience here. Arranging your banking facilities is not the most exciting task, but if you make the right choice to provide yourself with security, flexibility and convenience it will help make more time for other, more enjoyable things you can take advantage of while you’re here.
Lloyds TSB / Expatica
For more information contact:
Cliff Govender, National Manager, Lloyds TSB International, London, UK
Quoting reference: GM 317674