Amidst waiting for my visa paperwork to come in so I can officially apply, and looking into various cell phone plans to use whilst living abroad, I have decided to get one thing handled: my bank account. I have officially applied for the HSBC Passport Account in the UK (although I am still perusing other options). They had an easy online application that I was able to fill out, and pending approval, I will be able to open my account when I land in London! Although opening a bank account over there typically takes a great deal of paperwork and time to get started, the online step eliminated some work and the Passport account, being created for people new to the UK (typically there on a visa to either study or to work), simplified the process. All of the banks that offer accounts for foreigners that I have looked into charge monthly maintenance fees (lame, I know) of around 6 – 8 GBP, but some also require certain monthly deposits, various background information, a letter from your current bank, etc. It’s quite an intensive process.
If you’re looking into opening an overseas account, here are some banks to check out. These banks happen to have branches near LSE, which is great, although some are easier than others when it comes to actually opening an account. The process is quite cumbersome for international students as we don’t have credit in the UK or any legitimate history of which they are aware.
* Nat West (National Westminster Bank) : 7 GBP per month with a branch on the LSE campus, plus a free rail pass, etc. This one’s rather tempting as well…
* Barclay’s : Barclay’s is actually affiliated with B of A, my current bank, so it was a tempting option for me. Their website pisses me off though, because it doesn’t work half the time. Also about 7 GBP per month.
* Lloyd’s: I’m sure this is an amazing bank, but their website makes everything seem way too complicated for me. Too many different accounts and none of them seem relevant to my situation.
* HSBC: I picked this one because they make the process so easy! 6 GBP per month. I am still minorly interested in NatWest, but being able to apply online was such a helpful feature! And the fact that they have an account dedicated to international students is great <3.
* Abbey National: You get a Visa card and all the normal goodies, but you can only apply in a branch, which screams inconvenience to me. I don’t get why more banks aren’t leveraging the power of the Internet! No word on any monthly fees but I highly doubt it’s free.
* Halifax: They have a student account with no monthly funding requirement, but again, not enough information to help out a good old international kid. A little lame.
Anyone else have experience opening accounts overseas?
I would love any insight or recommendations!