Best US Dollar Account in the UK

Apr 13, 2022
Affiliate disclosure

There are many reasons why you might be considering a move from the United States to the United Kingdom. You might be attracted to the stunning countryside, the rich and colourful history, or even the picturesque seaside villages. But many of the key reasons for moving usually involve study and work opportunities and the fact there’s no language barrier to overcome.  

Whatever your reason for settling in the UK, it’s likely that you’ll want to send money back home to the States at some point. In which case you will want a bank account that allows you to do just that. In this guide, we take a look at all you need to know about opening a US dollar account in the UK.

recommendation icon

If you send money regularly or if you're looking to spend and withdraw cash without a local bank card, we recommend opening a Wise Multi-Currency Account, which gives you an online spending account and debit card, allowing you to hold, send, receive, and spend US dollars, as well as other currencies.

Opening a US Dollar Bank Account in the UK

Traditionally, your only option for opening a bank account in the UK was to approach a high street bank. With branches dotted across the country, many people tended to opt for the one that was closest to their home. 

These days, however, things are a little different and banking has become a lot more competitive. You can still choose to open a USD bank account with a high street bank if you want branch access, but you also have the option of applying online with a digital-only bank instead. 

Also known as “challenger banks” or “neobanks”, these frequently offer lower fees and can be more accessible if you don’t yet have proof of a UK address. However, the caveat is that you’ll need to be prepared to manage all of your banking transactions online or via the provider’s app.

Opening a US Dollar Account With a High Street Bank

The main high street banks you’ll want to explore include Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, NatWest and Santander. 

To open a dollar account in the UK you’ll need to provide proof of identity such as your passport, as well as proof of address such as a council tax bill, rental contract or utility bill. If you’re yet to arrive in the UK or you only arrived recently, these requirements could make it more difficult to open a US dollar account with a high street bank.

Below we’ve outlined the main accounts available:

Barclays

Multinational universal bank Barclays is one of Britain’s best-known banks. With more than 24 million customers, it operates as two divisions, Barclays UK and Barclays International. It also offers a foreign currency account that can be opened in US dollars (as well as 11 other currencies).

Below we have outlined some of the main features of the account:

  • Fee-free transfers from your foreign currency account to a Barclays sterling account in the same name;
  • Fee-free SEPA credit transfers made via all payment transfers;
  • Fee-free international transfers made via online banking (transfers made via branch or telephone banking cost £25.00);
  • You must have a Barclays sterling current account to be eligible (not including basic accounts);
  • Accounts can be opened in branch or by phone.

Transfers into your foreign currency account are free of charge if they are less than £100.00, but are charged at £6.00 if they are over £100.00.

HSBC

One of the largest banking and financial services institutions in the world, HSBC has more than 40 million customers and a network covering 64 countries and territories. As part of its international network it offers a Currency Account that can be opened in 14 major currencies, including US dollars.

Below are the main highlights:

  • No charges for any payments made to other HSBC accounts;
  • International transfers to other accounts in any currency except EUR cost $6.00 for online transactions and $14.00 for branch/telephone transactions;
  • Fee-free cash withdrawals in both pounds sterling and USD in the UK;
  • Electronic bank transfers into your account won’t be charged;
  • Online international payments can be made up to £50,000.00. International payments in branch are unlimited;
  • You must hold an active HSBC current account (excluding the basic account) to be eligible.

Lloyds Bank

One of the oldest and most respected banks in the UK, Lloyds Bank is part of Lloyds Banking Group and offers two international bank accounts via its international arm. These include:

  • International Current Account: With three currencies to choose from, including US dollars, the main highlight of the account is its fee-free international payments. The downside is the $10 monthly fee which takes effect after the first three months. You will also need a gross annual income of £50,000.00 or currency equivalent, or have £25,000.00 to save with Lloyds Bank international banking services.
  • Premier International Current Account: There are no monthly fees with the Premier account. It offers all of the above, plus a dedicated relationship manager and worldwide travel insurance for you and your family. However, eligibility criteria are a little stricter. You will need a deposit of at least £100,000.00 (or currency equivalent) to save and maintain with Lloyds within six months, or you will need to have a sole annual income of £100,000.00 and be able to save and maintain a balance of £100,000.00 within 12 months.

NatWest

With more than 7.5 million customers, National Westminster Bank or NatWest is owned by NatWest Group which also includes Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The key features of the NatWest foreign currency account - the International Select account - are outlined below:

  • Fee-free international payments; 
  • Monthly account fee of £8.00;
  • Ability to manage your account via the mobile banking app or online banking;
  • You must open the account with at least £25,000.00 or pay in a salary of £40,000.00.

Santander

Leading UK bank Santander has roots in three different financial institutions: Abbey National, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester. Today, Santander UK has more than 14.3 million customers, including 6.3 million digital customers.

Santander’s multicurrency account, the Island Gold account, can be held in US dollars, euros or sterling and its key features can be found below:

  • No monthly account fee;
  • Ability to manage your account online or by telephone banking;
  • Fee-free international transfers;
  • SWIFT payments via online banking are charged at $40.00 (rising to $60.00 for telephone banking);
  • Fee-free cash withdrawals (in correct currency).
recommendation icon

Recommendation

With high street banks more likely to ask for a minimum salary or deposit amount, these accounts tend to better suit the following types of customers:

  • Those who are already settled into UK life and have a UK address and a UK bank account;
  • Those who earn a high salary/have considerable savings;
  • Those who don’t mind paying monthly account fees.

Opening a US Dollar Account With a Digital Only Bank

An increasing number of challenger banks have opened their virtual doors in the UK over the past few years. Many of these offer low-cost transfer fees, making them a more competitive option if you’re looking to send money home on a regular basis. Additionally, those applying won’t necessarily be required to show proof of address, making them a great option for newcomers or those yet to make the move to the UK.

The downside is that while a number of digital-only banks offer Euro accounts (see more about these accounts here), far fewer currently offer US dollar accounts. In fact, the main contender is Revolut – as explained below.

Revolut

Banking and currency exchange business Revolut has over 15 million personal customers and allows you to hold, transfer and spend money in more than 30 currencies, including US dollars. What’s more, you won’t need proof of residence to open an account.  

There are four different pricing structures to choose from and each one offers a different ATM withdrawal allowance. The more you’re prepared to pay, the higher those allowances will be:

  • The Standard account is free of charge, the Plus account costs £2.99 a month, the Premium account cost £6.99 a month and the Metal account costs £12.99 a month;
  • The Standard account offers up to five free withdrawals or £200.00 per month, the Plus account offers free ATM withdrawals up to £200.00 a month, the Premium account offers free-free withdrawals up to £400.00 a month and the Metal account offers fee-free withdrawals up to £800.00 per month;
  • No fees for transferring money to other Revolut users or non-Revolut accounts in the SEPA region;
  • For transfers outside the SEPA region, Premium customers are permitted one fee-free international payment per month and Metal customers have three fee-free international payments per month. Anything over this is charged at 0.3% of the amount transferred with a minimum fee of £0.30 and a maximum of £5.
recommendation icon

Recommendation

Due to their flexibility and lower costs, digital-only banks are best suited to the following users:

  • Those who are looking to save when sending money back to the US;
  • Those who do not yet have proof of residence in the UK;
  • Those who are comfortable managing their finances via an app or online only.

Open a Wise Multi-Currency Account

There is one other option those moving to the UK should consider and that’s a Wise Multi-Currency Account. The main attraction of this account is its ability to hold several different currencies, allowing you to switch between them as you choose and make and receive payments all over the world. You’ll be able to benefit from being paid like a local in the UK, whilst also sending money back to the US at low rates. 

To register for the account, all you’ll need is an email address, or Google, Facebook or Apple account. You’ll need to verify your ID with your passport or government ID card, but proof of address won’t strictly be necessary. You can either supply proof from a standard list of documents, or you can send in a selfie in which you’re holding your ID. 

Once your account is up and running, you’ll be able to make the most of the following:

  • Hold, exchange and top-up up to 56 currencies;
  • Local bank details in the UK, as well as several other countries;
  • A multi-currency Mastercard that you can use to pay in foreign currencies with no hidden fees;
  • Access to Wise’s international money transfer service from your account balance.

As an example, if you have just moved to the UK from the USA, you’ll be able to:

  1. Send dollars from your regular account to your Wise dollar account;
  2. Convert all or part of it to British pounds for a low fee (0.42% or $4.62 to convert 1,000.00 USD to GBP);
  3. Pay with your Wise debit card, set up direct debits with UK providers to pay your bills or make local transfers free of charge.
recommendation icon

Recommendation

We recommend Wise’s Multi-Currency Account for the following types of users:

  • Those who are looking for an easy-to-manage dollar account;
  • Those looking to send money back home at a low cost;
  • Those looking for an account that doesn’t require proof of residence.

Frequently Asked Questions About US Dollar Bank Accounts in the UK

Find Out More About Opening Foreign Currency Bank Accounts

How To Open a Foreign Bank Account Online
April 28, 2022 - by Byron Mühlberg
How To Open a Bank Account in Germany for Non-Residents and Foreigners
July 28, 2021 - by Byron Mühlberg
Opening a Bank Account in Turkey
January 11, 2022 - by Byron Mühlberg
UK Bank Account For Non-Residents
April 20, 2022 - by François Briod
How To Open a Swiss Bank Account Online for Non-Residents
April 20, 2022 - by Byron Mühlberg
Open an American Bank Account Online
April 25, 2022 - by François Briod
How To Open a Bank Account in Sweden as a Foreigner
February 15, 2022 - by Jarrod Suda
How To Open a US Dollar Bank Account From Nigeria
February 28, 2022 - by Jarrod Suda
How To Open a Bank Account in Denmark as a Non-Resident
February 11, 2022 - by Jarrod Suda
Open a US Bank Account From India
December 14, 2021 - by Jarrod Suda
How To Open a Bank Account in Norway for Non-Residents and Foreigners
February 8, 2022 - by Jarrod Suda

Why Trust Monito?

You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

Learn More About Monito
  • Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.

  • Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.

  • Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.

Monito.com

Global Impact Finance Ltd
Avenue de Montchoisi 35
1006 Lausanne
Switzerland

Affiliate Disclosure
Instead of banner ads and paywalls, Monito makes money through affiliate links to the various payment service providers featured on our website. While we work hard to scout the market for the best deals, we're unable to consider every possible product available to you. Our extensive range of trusted affiliate partners enables us to make detailed, unbiased, and solution-driven recommendations for all types of consumer questions and problems. This allows us to match our users with the right providers to suit their needs and, in doing so, match our providers with new customers, creating a win-win for everybody involved. However, while some links on Monito may indeed earn us a commission, this fact never impacts the independence and integrity of our opinions, recommendations, and evaluations.