Tuesday 18 January 2011

Banking for Australians in England

We've heard all sorts of stories about how difficult it is to open a bank account in England.  It's something we take for granted here in Australia.  You walk into a bank, show them sufficient ID and you have a bank account.  Not so, it seems, in England.  It isn't so straightforward if you don't have an address and a job - something people like us planning on cruising the canals won't have.

We would want an account with internet banking and with use of a Visa or Mastercard debit card.  We would prefer to open the account before we leave Australia so we can transfer the money we'd need to buy our narrowboat into the account at a time (and exchange rate) convenient to us.
I've asked lots of questions and searched the internet and discovered a couple of options. 

The easiest would be to use a service such as Work Gateways.  You pay for the service, provide the necessary documents, get some extras and the work is done for you.

HSBC offer an account designed especially for people new to the UK.  It is offered for an initial 12 month term at £8 a month.  Once the 12 months is up you could then open a regular bank account because you'd have a banking history.
HSBS Passport account

If anyone knows of other banks who will open a UK account before you leave Australia, please leave a comment and I'll investigate and post an updated blog entry.


Anonymous said...

We just use our Australian Westpac accounts (fee free). We can use our credit cards normally and draw cash fee free at any Barclays ATM. Payments we need to make for our boat we transfer direct to the other party's UK account via the net for a $20 fee.

How is the buying and selling going?


Elly and Mick said...

Hey Roger, thanks for the feedback.

We aren't able to transfer to foreign accounts on the internet from our bank account. I'll have to investigate that option. I did read something during my trawling of message boards about a 3rd party currency conversion site and made a mental note to find out more about it. I'll add it to my list!

Have you never had a problem using your Aussie credit card? I remember a very unpleasant experience in France with trying to buy petrol - on our way to the airport for a flight, machine would only take French credit cards.

How long have you been there using your Aussie account?

Anonymous said...

We have used our credit cards (Amex & Visa)extensively in the UK, Europe, Asia and North America and the only problem we have had is recharging mobile phones online in the UK. So we buy vouchers from Carphone Warehouse, for which we use our credit cards.

We are in a share narrowboat syndicate and have been coming over for 6 - 8 weeks cruising in the spring for 4 years, timeshare & Rentals boats before that since 2003 and our bank accounts have worked well for us on those and other trips.

This may not work well for you, we didn't live there for a full year or more and we didn't earn any money there but have made our initial purchase and maintenance payments quite easily.

Anyway, good luck, Roger