Best Free Online Bank Accounts in the UK in 2022: Fees, Usability, Features, and More
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What's the best free bank account in the UK? The answer will depend largely on your needs and preferences. Fortunately, as of 2022, there are many free current account options available to UK residents to choose from, meaning all you need to do is compare your options.
Best Free Online Bank Accounts in the UK
- Revolut — Track budgets, earn interest, and buy stocks, gold, or crypto. | Read our full review.
- Monzo — Set savings goals, budget, and get the UK's best interest rates. | Read our full review.
- Wise — Fund a multi-currency account at the market rate to travel like a local | Read our full review.
- Monese — Build credit and get bill protection without proof of residence | Read our full review.
- Starling Bank — An all-around current account with powerful paid add-ons | Read our full review.
Without further ado, let's go through our rankings for the best free bank accounts in the UK in 2022 —
Starling Bank — Best All-Round
Starling Bank is a fully-authorised bank in the UK that's well known for its fee-free current account. In fact, because this account is completely free and gives you access to an impressively complete range of financial services (including overdraft, loans, joint account, youth card, pensions, Euro balance, interest, etc.), we think Starling offers the best free bank account in the UK — one we recommend as a complete replacement for an account at a high-street bank.
Starling Bank in Short
UK-based digital-only Starling Bank was founded by Anne Boden in 2014 and has gone from strength to strength in its bid to shake up the banking sector. Determined to embrace the sector’s technological changes, the neobank received its UK banking licence in 2016 and launched the UK’s first mobile-only current account in 2017.
When it comes to the accounts on offer, Starling Bank is a bit of an all-rounder. As well as offering personal and joint accounts for adults, customers can also choose from a debit card for younger children and an account for teens. Businesses are also catered for, with the neobank offering a business account for limited companies and other registered businesses, as well as sole traders.
What Monito Likes About Starling Bank
- Innovative features and services that can be managed in-app.
- Categorised spending insights that make it easier to budget.
- Interest paid on account balances.
- No monthly account fees.
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals and transactions abroad.
- Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay, Garmin Pay compatibility.
What Monito Dislikes About Starling Bank
- Overdrafts are charged at 15% EAR.
- Additional accounts cost £2 per month.
- Replacing a card lost overseas could cost £60.
- Interest of -0.5% is payable on balances in the Euro account of over €50,000.
Monzo — Best for Savers
Monzo is a regulated UK bank and probably the country's most famous online-only account. An excellent choice if you're looking to escape the high fees of traditional banks, Monzo charges no fees for day-to-day card use (e.g. cashpoint withdrawals and card payments) in the UK and abroad.
What's more, because it offers an one of the most advanced and comprehensive savings systems we've seen from any challenger bank (allowing lots of flexibility over your time horizon and savings goals), we think Monzo is especially well-suited for managing and growing wealth, regardless of your individual goals.
Account name: Monzo
Potential costs: 3% per withdrawal if you withdraw over £250 per month.
Noteworthy features: Fixed Pot, Easy Access Savings, overdrafts, loans, bill splitting.
More info: See our full Monzo review.
Monzo in Short
Having some of the most competitive rates out there, opening a Monzo account and using it within the UK is completely free to do. However, it's only when you go abroad that you'll find yourself subject to a 3% fee on cashpoint withdrawals over £300. per month. In addition, you'll also be met with a £0.50 per day fee if your account falls into overdraft.
As of 30 October 2020, Monzo introduced a 3% fee on UK cash machine withdrawals that exceed £250 per month. While travelling abroad, you’ll be allowed to withdraw up to £200 in cash for free every month, after which a 3% fee on each withdrawal will apply. In addition, Monzo will also be introducing a £5 fee to replace a lost Monzo card after 30 October 2020.
In terms of exchange rates, Monzo will offer you a good deal all-round. The online bank itself charges no additional exchange rate margins on the margins already levied by Mastercard. This means that the exchange rate margins you do end up paying will be relatively low, typically around 0.80% of the total transfer.
What's more, Monzo goes above and beyond to provide this information to you unambiguously and transparently on its website — to a much greater degree, in fact, than many banks, challenger banks, and currency exchange services do.
What Monito Likes About Monzo
- Easy to set up and free to use.
- Flexibility over savings goals.
- Handy in-app bill splitting feature that works instantly.
- Joint accounts can manage rent and bills.
- Smart features to manage your budget, instant mobile notifications, and a well-designed app.
What Monito Dislikes About Monzo
- Free withdrawals abroad are limited to £200 per 30 days.
- Only available in the UK.
- Debit and credit card top-ups aren't supported.
Monzo offers three different types of accounts:
- Monzo: The simple Monzo account has no monthly fee. Cashpoint withdrawals are free up to £250 a month in EEA countries and the UK, and up to £200 a month in countries outside the EEA. After that, you’ll be charged 3%.
- Monzo Plus: This account costs £5 per month and offers interest of 1% AER on balances up to £2,000. You’ll get fee-free cash machine withdrawals in EEA countries and the UK, but they are limited to £400 per month in non-EEA countries. Anything over is charged at 3%.
- Monzo Premium: This account costs £15per month and pays interest of 1.5% AER on balances up to £2,000. Cash machine withdrawals in EEA countries and the UK are free, while withdrawals outside the EEA are free up to £600 each month. Anything over your allowance is charged at 3%.
Revolut — Best Mobile Current Account
Probably the UK's most famous fintech, there's a good chance you've heard of Revolut. Using its innovative banking platform, you'll not only have access to a broad range of financial services unique among free bank accounts, but you'll also be able to take advantage of these services at a comparatively low price.
For example, the Revolut mobile app offers multi-currency accounts, investments, crypto and precious metal trading, savings management, travel perks, and more. However, because it's not yet a bank in the UK, we think Revolut is best used as a powerful spending tool next to a main bank account, as opposed to in place of it.
Account name: Standard
Potential costs: 2% cashpoint withdrawal fee if you exceed five withdrawals or £200 per month.
Noteworthy features: EU bank account details, multi-currency balances.
More info: See our full Revolut review.
Revolut in Short
Revolut is not a bank in the UK. Interestingly enough, however, it is a fully-fledged bank (licensed by the Bank of Lithuania and offering deposit insurance and products such as loans and credit cards) in parts of the EU/EEA, including France, Italy, Portugal, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Romania, and a few others. The platform offers a range of financial services typical of traditional banks, making it an attractive alternative to high-street banks due to its unique ability to offer low fees and impressive scope of service.
Opening up a 'Standard' account with Revolut is completely free, but the delivery of the first debit card will set you back around £5. While cash machine withdrawals are also free, a 2% fee (at a minimum of £1) will be charged on all withdrawals after the first £200 or five withdrawals every month. What's more, transferring money to other Revolut users is not only free but instant. This makes the service a reliable choice if those you most frequently send money are also Revolut users themselves.
In addition, Revolut offers low fees on international money transfers, leaving the service an attractive choice for those who send money across borders frequently. They charge no exchange rate margins on weekdays, with users only subject to a flat 0.5% fee on all transfers sent abroad. However, Be aware that Revolut charges twice the fee for international money transfers made on weekends — bumping the fee to 1% on Saturdays and Sundays.
What Monito Likes About Revolut
- An extensive range of bank-like and multi-currency options.
- Debit card is well-priced for international spending.
- Includes in-app investment functionality.
- Slick mobile app with many features.
- Foreign transactions up to £1,000 exempt from FX fees.
- Free foreign currency transfers to other Revolut users.
What Monito Dislikes About Revolut
- Access to some interesting perks is restricted to 'Standard' users.
- Many foreign currency transactions incur a fee.
- Higher currency conversion costs on weekends.
Here's a full overview of Revolut's different account offerings:
- Standard: With zero up-front costs, the Standard option offers a digital current account (with a UK IBAN) with no monthly fee and a free debit card. Cashpoint withdrawals are free up to five withdrawals or £200 per month (whichever comes first). After that, it costs 2% of the value of the cash machine withdrawal.
- Plus: Plus accounts cost £2.99 per month, including a debit card. Cashpoinwithdrawals are free of charge up to £200 per month, after which a 2% fee applies.
- Premium: Premium accounts cost £6.99 per month, including a debit card, and there are no fees for cash machine withdrawals up to £400 per month. After that, it costs 2% of the value of the cash machine withdrawal.
- Metal: Metal accounts cost £12.99 per month, including a debit card. Cash machine withdrawals up to £800 per month are free, and after that, it costs 2% of the value of the cash machine withdrawal.
In the end, Revolut is among the best bank-like products currently available on the market and provides a capable spending option next to a main bank account. It is ideal if you'd like to cut down on the high fees associated with basic banking services at high-street banks and is particularly well-suited for travelling abroad, especially if you plan to spend less than £1,000 (or equivalent) and do most of your spending on weekdays. It's for all these reasons that we rate Revolut as the best secondary bank account in the UK.
Sign up for Revolut now and get £10 in your account.
Wise — Best for Travellers
Wise isn't a bank in the UK but a money transfer operator that's well-known for offering some of the cheapest international transfers globally. However, money transfers aren't Wise's only speciality — they also offer the Wise Multi-Currency Account, a low-cost foreign currency spending account and card product that's best in class for foreign currency spending of all kinds, whether it's holidays overseas, online shopping, or international money transfers.
Account name: Multi-Currency Account
Potential costs: £0.50 per cash machine withdrawal if more than two withdrawals are made per month, plus 1.75% on withdrawals exceeding £200 per month.
Noteworthy features: International money transfers, multiple account details, multi-currency balances.
More info: See our full Wise Multi-Currency Account review.
Wise in Short
Applying for a Wise Multi-Currency Account is fast and easy and can be done not only with a UK proof of residence, but any proof of residence in the EU/EEA and many other countries worldwide. Once you're signed up and your card has arrived (which takes two to six working days), you'll be able to take advantage of the following unique features with the account:
- Local bank details in the UK, Eurozone, US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Canada, Hungary, and Turkey;
- Hold, exchange, and top-up up to 56 currencies;
- A multi-currency Visa debit card that's handy for paying in foreign currencies without the hidden fees;
- Access to Wise's powerful international money transfer service right from your account balance.
What Monito Likes About Wise
- Account details in as many as 10 currencies.
- Hold money in 50+ currencies.
- Send money to 80+ countries from your account.
- Some of the lowest money transfer fees available on the market.
- Pricing is accessible and transparent.
- Mid-market exchange rate offered for currency transfers.
- Debit card can be used to avoid foreign transaction fees.
- No setup fees or monthly charges.
What Monito Dislikes About Wise
- Cash or cheque payments aren't supported.
- Overdraft and loans aren't available.
- Negative interest on large Euro account balances.
- Fees to top up the account via debit and credit card.
- Tight limits and conditions to fee-free cash machine withdrawals.
How Wise Works
To get a sense of just how useful Wise can be for frequent travellers and expats, let's say that you're travelling from the UK to Spain and you'd like to spend in Euros while on holiday there. With the Wise Multi-Currency Account, you'll be able to:
- Send British pounds from your bank account to your Wise Euro account;
- Convert to Euros at a low fee (e.g. if you add €1,000 and pay with British pounds, the total fee will be around 0.35% or £3*);
- Pay with your Wise debit card, make or receive SEPA (and SWIFT) payments, and even set up direct debits!
You'll also have a dedicated set of Belgian bank details to share with an employer in Europe. Belgian IBANs are fully eligible in the Eurozone, and rejecting the payout or receipt of funds based on the origin of an IBAN is illegal. Note that this account does not offer an overdraft, and you won’t earn interest on any in-credit balances.
It's for the above reasons that we think Wise is the best online multi-currency account available to UK nationals and a product we firmly recommend for holidaymakers, online spenders, and expats alike.
* Conversion made on 05/11/2021
Monese — Best for New Arrivals
Monese is a mobile-only challenger bank that offers fully-fledged checking accounts to more than two million customers across much of Europe. Because Monese doesn't require you to prove your residence to meet creditworthiness standards to open an account in the UK, we think Monese is especially well-suited for new arrivals to the UK from the European Economic Area (EEA).
Account name: Starter
Potential costs: £1.50 per cash machine withdrawal; 2% per foreign currency transaction not in GBP, EUR, SEK, or RON; £4.95 for debit card delivery.
Noteworthy features: PayPal integration, Avios integration, Money pots, interest.
More info: See our full Monese review.
Monese in Short
While an interesting product all-round, we find Monese's weakest point to be its pricing for foreign currency spending and cash machine withdrawals. While its day-to-day fees are admittedly still relatively low in general — at least compared to traditional banks — Monese's 'Starter' plan, for example, charges £1.50 per cash withdrawal, 2% on all non-GBP, EUR, SEK, and RON foreign currency transactions, and an additional 1% on weekends.
What Monito Likes About Monese
- Available even without a UK or EU proof of residence.
- Money transfers to over 30 other countries.
- Supports joint accounts and virtual cards in the UK.
What Monito Dislikes About Monese
- Does not offer overdraft, interest, or loans.
- Upgrading plans usually does not equal lower costs.
- High conversion fees for non-GBP, EUR, SEK, and RON spending.
- Weekend surcharges apply to currency exchange.
Over and above the 'Starter' plan discussed until now, here are four types of current accounts Monese offers:
- Starter: If you want to limit the up-front costs, go for the Simple account. It’s a full UK current account with no monthly costs and includes a free debit card. However, you will be charged £1.50 on all cash machine withdrawals (unlike most UK challenger banks there is no free monthly allowance) and a 2% fee on foreign currency commission on all non-GBP, EUR, SEK, and RON transactions. There is also a 2.5% fee for foreign exchange transfers when sending to non-Monese accounts, which bumps up to 3.5% on weekends.
- Essential: This plan costs £1.95 per month and has a free cashpoint withdrawal limit of £200 per month, with 2% being charged after that. Foreign currency spending comes at a slightly lower 0.5% per transaction on this plan.
- Classic: Classic accounts cost £5.95 per month and offer free cashpoint withdrawals up to £500 a month. After this, a 2% fee applies. While foreign currency card spending is free on this plan, foreign currency exchange transfers to non-Monese accounts incur a 0.5% fee. As with the 'Starter' and 'Essential' plans, it’s a full UK account with a free debit card.
- Premium: Premium accounts cost £14.95 per month and offer unlimited UK cashpoint withdrawals, free foreign currency card spending, and foreign currency exchange transfers. Once again, it’s a full UK account with a free debit card — one which you can read more about in our dedicated Monese Premium review.
All Monese plans can be paid annually with a discounted monthly rate of anywhere between 20% and 40%.
If you were to open up another type of account, you'd save on fees for international money transfers, among other services, but you'd pay a monthly fee on the bank account. For example, for a 'Classic' account, your monthly fee will be £5.95, while for a 'Premium' account, your monthly cost would be £14.95.
Comparing the UK’s Best Free Online Bank Accounts
To wrap things up, let's compare the product, service, and pricing of the free bank accounts we explored above. Here, you can get a better idea of which one might best suit your needs and preferences:
GBP, USD, EUR, and 7 others
GBP, EUR, RON
Bank transfer, cash
Bank transfer, cash
Bank transfer, debit/credit card
Bank transfer, debit/credit card
Bank transfer, debit/credit card
Mobile, internet banking
Mobile, internet banking
Mobile, internet banking
|Try Starling||Try Monzo||Try Revolut||Try Wise||Try Monese|
Read More About the Best Free Online Current Accounts in the UK
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