Barclays USD Account Review: Fees, Features and Alternatives 2023
Barclays foreign currency accounts are available in USD and a selection of 10 other currencies. You can use a Barclays USD account to hold, send and receive payments in dollars, and can also make in branch cash deposits and withdrawals within the UK. There’s no debit card linked to the Barclays USD account, so you can’t spend when you travel, or make ATM withdrawals.
If you’re considering getting a Barclays USD account, this guide is for you. We’ll look at how to open a Barclays foreign currency account, plus the features and fees you can expect. To help you decide if the Barclays USD account is right for you we’ll also cover a couple of alternatives for comparison, from neobank Starling, and specialist providers Wise and Revolut. More on that later.
What is the Barclays USD account?
Barclays foreign currency accounts are available in USD and 10 other global currencies. With a Barclays USD account you’ll be able to hold a balance in US dollars, receive USD payments, send money around the world, and deposit cash and cheques in a Barclays branch. You can also withdraw cash over the counter, although you need to arrange this in advance by phoning the bank.
There’s no linked debit card with the Barclays USD account, which does mean it’s limited when it comes to spending as you travel.
Pros and cons of Barclays USD account
Holding a foreign currency account can be handy for anyone who lives an international lifestyle - here are a few notable advantages of the Barclays USD account, plus some drawbacks to consider.
Manage your account online or in branch depending on your preference
Deposit cash and cheques in USD
Send and receive payments in USD without needing to convert back to pounds
No debit card
Cash withdrawals need to be arranged at least a day in advance
Exchange rates include a markup
Fees apply for some transactions
Barclays foreign currency account alternatives
The Barclays USD account can be handy if you’re already a Barclays customer, as there’s no monthly fee to pay. However, there are some transaction charges to consider - and you won’t be able to make card payments and withdrawals which limits the ways you can access your money when you travel. To help you decide if Barclays is the right provider for you, we’ll run through some alternatives, including key features and fees:
Wise offers digital multi-currency accounts to hold over 50 currencies, and receive payments in 10 currencies. You can order a linked Wise card for easy spending and withdrawals, and manage your money on the move with the Wise app.
One key feature with Wise is that you always get the mid-market exchange rate with no margin added - all the fees are split out so it’s easy to check and compare your costs before you send a transfer.
Foreign Currencies: 50+
Fees & Exchange Rates: Mid-market exchange rate, low transaction fees
International Transfers: From 0.41% fee
Debit Card: Available
Revolut describes itself as a financial super app. You can hold and exchange 30+ currencies in a Revolut account, and all account plans offer some fee free currency exchange which uses the mid-market exchange rate. Choose the free standard Revolut plan, or upgrade to an account with a monthly fee to get more travel perks and benefits.
Foreign Currencies: 30+
Fees & Exchange Rates: Mid-market exchange rate to plan limits, low transaction fees based on account type
International Transfers: 0.3% - 2% fee, some accounts offer discounted transfer fees
Debit Card: Available
Starling Business USD Account
Starling is a digital bank which means there’s no branch network, but you will be able to access a broad range of services much like a traditional bank. Business customers can open a Starling USD account for a low monthly fee, and get currency exchange which has a low, transparent margin included in the rates.
Foreign Currencies: USD - accounts are also available in GBP and EUR
Fees & Exchange Rates: 5 GBP/month fee, currency conversion uses the mid market rate with a fee of 0.4%
International Transfers: no fee for ACH payments to US accounts
Debit Card: Available
|Monthly fees||No fee||No fee||0 GBP - 12.99 GBP/month depending on account tier|
|Currencies you can hold and exchange||USD||50+||30+|
|Exchange rates||Rates include a markup||Mid-market exchange rate||Mid-market exchange rate to plan limits|
|Debit Card and ATM fees||Not available|
Get a debit card for 7 GBP
2 withdrawals to 200 in value per month for free - 0.5 GBP + 1.75% after that
Debit card is free to order, but delivery fees may apply
ATM withdrawals fee free to plan limits (200 GBP/month for standard plans)
|International payment fees||No fee for online transfers, 25 GBP fee for most in branch and telephone transfers||From 0.41%||0.3% - 2% for most payments (paid account plans may offer some discount on fees)|
As you can see, the options, features and fees of different types of foreign and multi-currency accounts can vary significantly. Compare a few to pick the right one for your needs.
How does the Barclays USD account compare?
Barclays has a huge UK branch network, which might mean the Barclays USD account is a convenient option if you prefer to manage your money over the counter. However, it’s not the only provider out there - and digital specialists may be able to provide a more flexible foreign currency account with lower overall fees and a linked payment card.
Here’s a side by side overview of the Barclays USD account along with specialist providers Wise and Revolut, and digital bank Starling, which offers USD accounts to business customers. We’ll look at these providers in a little more detail later to help you decide which account might suit your needs best.
|Availability||UK customers with an Barclays GBP account||Available to customers in most countries around the world||Available to customers in the UK, EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US||Limited companies only|
No monthly fee
Currency conversion includes a markup
Some international fees apply, including a 6 GBP fee for receiving payments worth over 100 GBP
No monthly fee
Currency conversion and international payments from 0.41%
0 - 12.99 GBP monthly fee depending on plan
Currency conversion with no markups to plan limits
International payments from 0.3% - 2%
Currency conversion from 0.4%
International transfers can be made by ACH to US bank accounts only - no fees apply
|Linked Debit Card||Not available||Available||Available||Available|
The foreign currency accounts offered by traditional banks like Barclays can be handy for people looking to hold a USD balance, but they’re not the most flexible when it comes to travel use. If you want a foreign currency account to pay your way when you’re overseas, a specialist service like Wise and Revolut may be a better bet, for an account with a linked card and some fee free transactions. We’ll get into more details about the providers we’ve highlighted here a little later, so you can see if they suit your personal needs.
Want to compare more options? Check out our full guide to the best foreign and multi-currency accounts in the UK.
What is the eligibility for a Barclays USD account?
Barclays USD accounts are available to customers who also hold a Barclays GBP account (aside from the Barclays Basic Current Account) through Barclays UK. You’ll also need to be 18 or over in order to apply.
Who is it good for?
If you’re an existing Barclays customer sending or receiving USD payments, opening a Barclays USD foreign currency account may be a solid option. You can easily send money online, and also have the option of depositing and withdrawing in cash at a local branch. There are no monthly fees to pay for your account, although some transaction fees do apply which we’ll look at later.
Because the Barclays USD account doesn’t have a debit card it’s not an ideal option for people who want a travel money account. However, it may suit someone getting paid from the US and looking to hold a USD balance, or anyone making regular payments in dollars.
When is a multi-currency account needed?
Multi-currency accounts allow you to hold a balance in one or more foreign currencies without having to switch back to pounds. That can cut the costs of transacting internationally if you regularly send or receive payments in different currencies, or if you travel a lot. However, different foreign currency and multi-currency accounts have their own features and fees, which means that they suit different customer needs.
Here’s a quick overview of the Barclays USD account set against the providers we looked at earlier, and who they may suit:
Barclays - useful for people who prefer to transact in person in a branch, including depositing and withdrawing in cash
Wise - online and in app service, covering 50+ currencies with a linked card - handy if you travel a lot or shop online with overseas retailers → Read Wise Review
Revolut - handy for customers looking for low cost currency conversion and easy spending with a linked debit card → Read Revolut Review
Starling - good for business customers who need to access a fuller range of financial services from a licensed bank, but who don’t need a physical branch network
How to open a USD account with Barclays
To open a Barclays USD account you’ll first need to have an eligible GBP current account. Some current accounts can be opened online - or you can pop into a branch if you’d prefer to talk your options through with an assistant.
Once you have your GBP current account you’ll need to call the Barclays international helpdesk on 03459 75 75 75, or visit a branch in person, to get your USD account set up.
What documents you'll need
When you contact Barclays in person or by phone to open your USD account, you’ll be advised of the paperwork to provide. This may vary based on the current account you hold with Barclays - however, it’s common to be asked for the following:
Proof of ID, like a passport
Proof of address, such as a utility bill in your name
Here’s a rundown of the key fees you’ll pay with your Barclays USD account:
|Service||Barclays USD account fee|
|Monthly fee||No fee|
|In branch cash withdrawal in USD||No fee|
Deposit cash in USD - free
Fees may apply for depositing cheques, depending on the value of the cheque and the currency it’s in
|Send money internationally|
No fee for international payments arranged online - 25 GBP for in branch and telephone payments
SEPA payments arranged by any channel are free
Where currency conversion is required, a markup will be added to the mid-market exchange rate
Correspondent bank fees may also apply
|Receive money internationally|
No fee for SEPA payments, or internal transfers from a Barclays GBP account in the same name
No fee for payments valued at 100 GBP or under
6 GBP fee for payments worth over 100 GBP
Barclays exchange rate
If you need to convert funds from one currency to another to make or receive a payment, the Barclays exchange rate will apply. This is calculated by taking the Barclays reference exchange rate and adding a margin.
Adding a margin to the exchange rate that’s used for converting currencies is very common. However, it does push up the costs of transacting internationally, and can make it harder to see exactly what fees you’re paying. If you want to know exactly what the margin being used for your payment is, you’ll need to ask Barclays staff, or compare the Barclays rate against the mid-market rate you can find on Google.
How to use the Barclays USD account
You can make payments from your Barclays USD account in a branch, by phone or online. There’s no Barclays fee for online transfers - which means this is probably the most convenient and cheapest way to send money from your Barclays USD account. Here’s how:
Log into your online or mobile banking service
Look for the option for International Payments
Follow the prompts to add the recipient’s information and details of the transfer
Complete any required security or verification steps
Add money to your Barclays account in the following ways:
Pay in cash in USD at a branch
Receive a bank transfer from an account in your own name, or from someone else
Deposit a cheque in USD or another currency
The fees for these deposit types do vary, so check out the details before you get started.
You’ll be able to send payments from your Barclays USD account to be deposited into other bank accounts around the world. You can also request an in branch withdrawal of cash, but in this case you’ll have to call the bank in advance to make arrangements.
How to use the Barclays USD account abroad
Barclays USD and foreign currency accounts don’t come with a debit card, which means you can’t make cash withdrawals or spend when you’re overseas. However you can still use your online banking service to check over your account or arrange transfers, whether you’re at home or abroad.
Barclays USD account limits
Barclays foreign currency accounts may have limits which apply to transfers into and out of the account. You’ll be able to check the limits which apply to your particular account by logging into your online banking service.
Are Barclays multi-currency accounts safe?
Yes. Barclays is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and is a safe provider to use.
If you want a USD account you can use to deposit cash and cheques, the Barclays foreign currency account might be a good option. However, there’s no debit card with the account, which means you can’t access your money easily when you travel.
The good news is that there are lots of different providers out there with foreign currency and multi-currency accounts, which means you’ll be able to find the right fit, no matter what type of transactions you need to make. Check out digital providers like Wise and Revolut if you’re happy to manage your money online or using your phone, and don’t need to deposit cash. You may find you can get a cheaper overall account, with transparent fees and mid-market rate currency conversion.
Customers with an eligible Barclays GBP account can also open a USD account by calling the bank or popping into a branch.
Yes. You can deposit USD into your Barclays USD account in cash, by visiting a branch. You can also receive bank transfers to your account or deposit a cheque.
Barclays online international payments are free, although currency conversion costs and correspondent bank fees may still apply.
You can access your Barclays account via online banking when you travel - but there’s no linked payment card for easy spending.