Brexit has been and gone, but for many of us, that doesn’t mean waving goodbye to the Euro for good. In fact, there are plenty of great reasons why you may wish to open up a bank account that purely handles Euros, instead of GBP alone. But what is the best Euro bank account operating for UK residents right now?
I’ve done a bit of digging, and I’ve found that Starling, Fineco Bank, Wise, Monese and Revolut are just five of the easiest institutions to set up in the UK for Euro payments. Below, I’ll take you through my findings and what you need to know before setting up. In the meantime – why would you even want to set up a Euro bank account?
Why Set Up a Euro Bank Account?
Setting up a Euro bank account in the UK is a great idea if:
- You’re a business owner who trades exclusively in Europe
- You holiday in Europe a lot and want to avoid exchange rates
- You own a home or other property on the continent
- You’re planning to move to a European Union territory
And that’s just the start. As it stands, currency is always going to fluctuate, and with the UK’s recent economic strife taking over the headlines in the past year, it’s safe to say that GBP isn’t necessarily the strongest currency.
Opening a Euro bank account means you can accept payments from EU member states and keep your pot for spending abroad. It’s a great way to legally receive payments without having to lose out on the exchange.
For many people who work online (such as through freelancing directories), getting paid in Euros is fast and simple. You can set your values in Euros and receive a flat rate – rather than leave your eventual GBP calculations up to chance.
The fact is, currencies are always going to fluctuate thanks to political and social activity. Given how unstable much of the world appears to be at times, it may pay handsomely to just set up a Euro bank account of your own.
If you want to open a Euro account simply to speculate of FX movements, then you’ll be much better off directly betting on FX movements through a service like CMC or XTB. You don’t need a Euro bank account for that.
With that in mind – how do you get started?
Setting Up Your Own Euro Bank Account
Just as you’d expect when setting up a standard banking account in the UK, creating your own Euro bank account will require a few identifying details. These details are likely to vary from bank to bank, but you’ll normally need to provide:
- Proof of your ID (ideally photo ID such as a passport)
- Proof of your age (you’ll need to be over 18)
- Proof of your address in the UK
- In some cases, you may need to have a GBP account with the provider you sign up with
Thanks to SEPA rulings (Single Euro Payments Area), it’s still legal for people within the UK to trade in Euros through a specific bank account regardless of Brexit. Great news, then, for anyone looking to break free from exchange cuts and fees elsewhere!
The Best Euro Bank Accounts for UK Residents – My Picks
I’ve researched the best-rated and best-known Euro bank account options for UK holders, and there’s quite a few to pick from! The below options all have pros and cons – but all provide you with tons of flexibility to start receiving and paying out Euros whenever you wish.
Are there any banks or accounts you feel I’ve missed, or that you’d like me to cover in more detail? Let me know down in the comments, and share your own stories.
In the meantime, let’s dive into the best Euro bank accounts for UK residents operating right
Starling’s made a big name for itself in recent years as a ‘modern’ bank that moves away from the high-street standards of old. The highly-rated bank has been operating since 2014, making it a newer kid on the block than most.
But, don’t let that put you off. Starling offers a fantastic ‘switch’ functionality that lets you change your existing GBP debit card into EUR. Great news, then, for anyone operating online who takes payments from people all over the continent.
Personally, I like Starling for the fact that you can hold and send Euros without paying any fees. There’s a slight 0.4% charge (which may change in future) for switching between EUR and GBP – so make sure you do so when you really need to.
Starling seems to be a big winner with UK cardholders thanks to its super-friendly app and its free machine withdrawals. Providing you’re willing to pay the fees mentioned, it comes hugely recommended.
Will I be eligible for a Starling account?
To apply for a Starling Euro account, you’ll need to be at least 16 years old, live in the UK, and already have an account with the bank. That’s simply because you can switch or transform a traditional account into a Euro holder if you wish.
- Switch from GBP to EUR at any time
- Holders aged 16+ are eligible
- You’re protected up to £85,000 through the FSCS
- You can make transfers any time of day or night
- Very low fees
- You’ll need a regular Starling bank account to get started
Fineco is a long-standing name in European finance that I’ve covered before and it just so happens to offer a fantastic Euro bank account option for UK holders. The Italian brand lets bank holders in the UK and Italy store and trade with Euros.
It’s absolutely free to open a EUR account with Fineco Bank, and you won’t have to worry about extra fees or charges stacking up. You’ll have a choice between GBP and EUR, however, so you won’t be able to switch between them the way you can with Starling.
That said, Fineco Bank lets you withdraw money for free and won’t charge you anything extra along the way. You can even use your Euro Fineco card with Apple Pay and Google Pay if you prefer, helping to make earning and spending all the more flexible on the go.
Transfers can cost around 0.2% per go if you use them – but these are capped at €2.95 at the time of writing.
I also like the fact that Fineco really does open things up across several countries and territories. If you want to, there’s functionality across multiple different currencies, meaning you don’t have to stick rigidly to Euros or Pounds.
Fineco famously offers extremely competitive exchange rates compared to the vast majority of its larger competition, though you may still find it cheaper to use services such as Revolut or Wise than to go through exchange rates every time. Regardless, Fineco remains amazingly flexible and is probably my top pick of banks that aren’t wholly app-based.
Will I be eligible for a Fineco account?
Providing you’re over 18 years old and can provide the requested ID details, you shouldn’t have a problem getting started. You’ll normally need a National Insurance number and photo ID to set up an account, or you can provide a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) if you’re self-employed or run your own business and accounts.
It normally takes a few days for Fineco to fully set up new accounts as their verification processes are human-operated. That at least means you’re in safe hands – even if some apps can get you up and running much quicker. Consider what’s most convenient for you when comparing different options and starting to apply.
- Eligible for free setup in both UK and Italy
- Lets you have access to around 20 different currencies
- High cash machine limits and reasonable fees
- Access to Fineco’s trading platform is included with your account
- Choose between EUR and GBP
- You can’t switch between EUR and GBP as with other apps in this list
- It can take a few days for applications to fully process
- Exchange rates may be higher than you’d expect through other apps on this list
The Best Euro Accounts for UK Residents
I’ve discussed Starling and Fineco Bank above, but what about some other options? Over the last decade, many fintech and neobanks have popped up that for most purposes look and feel like a real bank. They are however not legally a bank. This does not diminish their services, but it is something to be aware of.
Banks are regulated differently than other financial institutions such as payment firms, and therefore many will be unable to offer things like FSCS protection.
Many of these institutions differentiate themselves by offering the latest technologies that allow for fast and efficient banking-type services. In this case we are interested in holding foreign currencies, like the Euro, and freely converting these foreign currencies back to the Pound. These institutions often operate in partnership with banks, where the banks provide some of the critical back end services.
Let’s look a closer look at some of the best institutions that offer EUR and other foreign currency accounts in the UK.
Wise has fast become the freelancer’s go-to institution, and it appeals massively to people who travel and work regularly in and out of Europe, too. Formerly known to the public as TransferWise, the service offers both a free personal account and a business account option from a one-off payment of £45.
I personally use Wise and I love its ease of use and their ability to transfer money across countries, across currencies, and even within the country! It’s fast, quick, and super cheap.
Wise lets you set up international bank details for up to ten different currencies – perfect if you work directly with clients and customers based in various territories all over the world. The EUR account, much like its other offerings, doesn’t charge any holding fees if you want to go full-Euro.
Wise does charge currency exchange fees, however, so it’s well worth looking out for any charges that apply should you wish to change your money around within the account.
I like the fact that you can apply for physical cards from Wise, and that you can trade in up to 50 different currencies. The only thing that really lets the side down here is that you only get limited access to free cash machine withdrawals – that, and you’re not FSCS protected. If anything was to happen to Wise, you could stand to lose any money you may be holding in the account.
Therefore, I’d recommend you use Wise as a holding account for money that you move about. Set it up to receive and process Euros, but once the account balance crosses a meaningful threshold, then move it to a proper bank account or make payments as soon as you can. In the extremely rare chance that something goes wrong, you don’t want to get caught out and lose any money if you can help it!
There’s some reassurance in the fact that Wise works with Barclays to protect users’ money, meaning your cash isn’t completely in the dark – thank goodness!
How is Wise regulated?
In most cases, Wise is regulated like a payments institution. This means that they can offer money transfer services and can move money between bank accounts. However typically they cannot offer services such as savings, loans, etc. Let’s take a look at some key jurisdictions:
- UK: Wise is regulated as an Electronic Money institution (EMI) by the UK Financial Conduct Authority.
- European Economic Area: Wise is regulated as a Payment Institution and authorized by the National Bank of Belgium
- US: Within the US, money transmission services are actually offered by a partner. As of writing time, that partner was Community Federal Savings Bank.
As per the UK FCA’s EMI regulations, firms need to have in place “safeguarding” mechanisms to ensure that their clients’ money is safely held at their partner bank or financial institution. In a nutshell, safeguarding requires that funds must be held in segregated accounts (client and the firm’s money must be in separate accounts), so that if the firm were to go insolvent, client money still remains safe.
Wise Plc. is also listed on the London Stock Exchange and therefore is regulated again by the UK FCA with relations to its securities market activities.
Will I be eligible for a Wise account?
If you want to get set up at Wise, you’ll only really need to prove some ID – and your UK address – and to be over 18 years of age. While you can be younger to hold a Starling account, there are major benefits to banking with Wise instead. The choice is yours!
If you operate a small business, like an Airbnb or even a business like writing or virtual assistant, then you are eligible for a Wise Business Account. You can bill your clients or pay your suppliers in Euros directly without having to transfer money back and forth. It pretty much works the same way as the personal account, but helps you to keep your personal and business finances separate.
- Trade in up to 50 different currencies
- Create bank details for up to ten different international account standards
- Free to get started
- You only ever need to use one card
- You can create direct debit instructions in Euros
- You’re limited to up to £200 in free withdrawals each month
- You’re not FSCS protected
- Some conversion costs will apply
Revolut is another interesting service which I’ve looked at before for comparing the best business bank accounts. At the time of writing, Revolut isn’t recognized as a bank in the UK. If you live in the European Economic Area though, Revolut is actually a bank. A little confusing, but more on that below.
Regardless of the above and your residency, you can still apply for the service and use it as a holding pot for Euros. It’s based out of Lithuania, and out of all the banking options I’ve researched for this guide, Revolut seems to have some of the biggest supporters. But why is this?
Revolut started its service as a prepaid card back in 2015 and has since evolved into a free app service that lets you hold Euros within the UK. Even better – in my view – is the fact that the app goes beyond by helping you budget and control spending habits. There’s tons of data to break down here, meaning if you’re a big fan of spreadsheets and charts, you’ll have a great time swiping through all the numbers.
Revolut is regulated through the FCA despite not being recognised as a UK bank, and it’s free to transfer cash. However, watch out for the fact there’s zero FSCS protection (much like Wise). Exchanges are also subject to fees and rates once you spend over a certain amount, so keep a close eye on your daily activity just in case. Revolut does have a banking license in Europe so you will find that there are stricter regulations on Revolut’s Europe operations.
Revolut also offers a business banking option with a free and a paid offering. The free offering suitable for those a handful of monthly transactions, whereas paid subscription is a better choice for those who have multiple income and outgoing transactions in multiple currencies. The latter would well capture a freelancer or someone who owns rental or vacation properties. Luckily, Revolut does have a cheaper £5/month freelancer subscription, which should work for most cases. The £25/month Companies plan would be better suited for the heavy user. Note that prices are accurate at the time of writing.
Like Wise, Revolut balances its lack of FSCS backing with a ring-fenced account based in the UK. This time, it’s Lloyds that do the backing.
How is Revolut Regulated?
If you are a customer of Revolut in the UK, you are likely served by Revolut Ltd, which is licensed and regulated as an Electronic Money Institution by the UK FCA. As I mentioned earlier, firms operating under the EMI license in the UK are required to have safeguarding requirements for their clients’ money.
If you are a customer in the European Economic Area (EEA), you will likely be served by Revolut Bank UAB, which is regulated by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Lithuania.
Will I be eligible for a Revolut account?
Probably! Providing you’re over 18 years of age, can prove it, and have a valid form of ID and proof of a UK or EU address, you’re good as gold to get signed up to the app.
For the business account, you’ll need to provide some basic information about your business such as your operating address, nature of the business, and intended use of the account. You of course will need to provide proof of identity as well.
- Free to join and get started
- Reasonable fee structure
- Easy to transfer and exchange
- Lots of handy budgeting tools and analytics
- Completely app-based
- Not backed by the FSCS – it’s not technically a bank under UK rules
- Fees apply to exchanges and withdrawals over a certain amount
- No physical card
Monese is one of the freshest faces on the online banking scene, and much like Revolut, it’s not actually tied to any kind of bank. Don’t let that scare you off, however, as it’s backed by the FCA, and its dual GBP and EUR account system is one of the easiest to use out of the banks and apps I’ve researched for this guide.
Like Revolut, you can use the Monese app to track how you spend your money, and there’s plenty of data you can peruse and track to work out where you may be able to free up some wiggle room. This functionality reminds me of what Chip and Plum offer in their apps. You can also trade through Monese in up to 18+ different currencies at present, making it something of a hub for anyone who wants to build an international payments base. It’s great for freelancers and travellers.
With Monese, you’ll need to look out for limits on free withdrawals, and fees that may apply to foreign withdrawals. It’s always worth taking a close look at the fine print before you sign up to any apps or banks, but this is serious money we’re talking about!
There’s three different levels to Monese that you can sign up for depending on your needs – their ‘Classic’ level, for example, has higher limits and fixed fees, and comes with a card. Their ‘Premium’ package, meanwhile, doesn’t have any fees on transfers or topping up.
As with Wise and Revolut UK, I’d recommend you use Monese as a holding account for money that you move about. Set it up to receive and process Euros, but if the account balance crosses a meaningful threshold, then move it to a proper bank account or make payments as soon as you can. In the extremely rare chance that something goes wrong, you don’t want to get caught out and lose any money if you can help it!
I like Monese’s layout and app functionality – it’s certainly a rival to Revolut and Wise in many ways. In fact, if you’re in the market for an app-based Euro account in the UK, there’s honestly not that much to really tell between them.
How is Monese Regulated?
Much like Wise and Revolut, Monese is regulated in the UK as an Electronic Money Institution by the UK FCA. Firms operating under the EMI license in the UK are required to have safeguarding requirements for their clients’ money.
In the back end, Monese works with PrePay Solutions (PPS), which is again both licensed and regulated by the FCA in the UK. In the European Economic Area, PPS is regulated by the National Bank of Belgium as a Payments Institution.
Will I be eligible for a Monese account?
Monese has a slightly different ID check to most, in that you’ll need to take a selfie video of yourself to prove your identity – alongside offering copies of photo ID. Providing you’re 18 years of age or older, you’re good to go.
- Very easy app to use and navigate
- Lots of money tracking options to help you budget
- Lots different currency options available
- Completely app-based (though there’s a card, too)
- Three different account options to help you manage fees
- No FSCS backing here
- Fees can apply to withdrawals after a point
Is it Really Worth Getting a Euro Bank Account in the UK?
If you travel to EU countries a lot or make a living from freelancing online, there are plenty of reasons why a Euro bank account will be worth your time and effort. For one thing, you’ll be able to avoid paying exorbitant fees on exchange rates.
What’s more, apps and online banks are making it super-easy for people across the UK to start accepting and spending Euros. It’s a misconception that just because we’re out of the European Union, you can’t use the currency.
The apps and banks I’ve reviewed above are just the start – there are plenty of other options out there! Again, if you have any favourites you think I should highlight in future, let me know down below and I’ll take a closer look. In the meantime, start embracing the Euro – it might just save you some serious cash in the current climate!