How to open a fee free bank account in the UK: Guide and Options 2024

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
12 September 2022

All of the UK’s major banks offer a basic bank account which will often have no ongoing service fees. However, that doesn’t really mean they’re completely free. Most bank accounts will have some fees which you might run into depending on how you transact. They’re just normally wrapped up in some of the features available in the package, like the option to send, spend and withdraw money overseas, or access an overdraft.

One alternative if you’re looking for an account which maintains a good range of features with the lowest possible fees, is to turn to a specialist provider like Wise or Revolut. Fintech companies like these take modern approaches to the services they offer, and don’t have the overheads of a branch network. That can mean they drive down costs and offer better value overall. This guide covers all you need to know.

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Fee free account options in the UK:

  • Accounts from fintech companies

  • Bank current accounts

Best fee-free account offers in the UK

Completely fee free accounts don’t really exist. In most cases, when a bank or provider advertises a fee free account, they really mean ‘no monthly fees’. Other banks may offer accounts which have fees you can waive as long as you fulfil certain conditions - but again, that doesn’t really mean they’re free.

However, there are certainly still ways you can access accounts which will work out cheaper for you, by picking one with no monthly charges and no or low fees for the transactions you make often. To help, we’ve compared a few different options, looking at accounts from both fintech companies and banks, and analysing their products based on whether they have the following:

  • Account opening fee

  • Monthly charges

  • Interest earning opportunity

  • ATM withdrawal fees

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • International money transfer charges

  • Account closure fee

We’ll also take a quick look at any other notable features for each bank and provider we review. Let’s dive in.

Fee-free accounts from fintech companies 

Fintech companies aren’t banks, but they’re just as safe for the services they offer. That’s because they have to be licensed and regulated in much the same way as banks if they want to operate in the UK, and as digital providers, they also tend to invest heavily in cutting edge technological approaches to account security.

Not all of the accounts on offer from fintech companies will have the same range of features as a bank. But some - like Wise and Revolut - can compete on everyday money management tools, as well as having a better range of international functionality compared to regular basic bank accounts. Here’s how Wise and Revolut measure up across our key fee areas:

Provider/ serviceWise Revolut
Account opening feeNo feeNo fee
Monthly chargesNo feeFree standard plans are available - or you can upgrade to a fee paid plan up to 12.99 GBP/month
Interest earning opportunityNot applicable0.65% - 1.35% depending on account type
ATM withdrawal fees

Up to 2 withdrawals, valued up to 200 GBP/month fee free

0.5 GBP + 1.75% fee after that

200 GBP - 800 GBP/month fee free, depending on account type
Foreign transaction fee

Exchange currencies from 0.41%

Free to spend any currency you hold in your account

Exchange currencies for free, subject to plan limits

Free to spend any currency you hold in your account

International money transfer chargesFrom 0.41%

SEPA payments are free

Other payments have a variable fee, usually 0.3% - 2%, subject to minimum and maximum charges by currency

Discounts may apply depending on your account type

Account closure feeNo feeNo fee
Other notable featuresHold and exchange 50+ currenciesHold and exchange 30+ currencies 
Go to Wise
Read more about Revolut

Pros and cons


  • Accounts available with no monthly fee and no minimum balance

  • Multi-currency functionality and low cost international transactions

  • Transparent pricing for services

  • Good range of features covering many areas a traditional bank account would


  • Not all features you’d find from a bank - often you can’t access credit for example

  • No branch network - all service is online, by phone, or chat

  • No cash transactions available

Fee free bank current accounts

All of the large UK banks offer some sort of basic bank account. While the names differ, these accounts typically come with no monthly fees, and a range of features including linked cards and the option to arrange an overdraft. Many everyday transactions are free - but there are still fees you’ll need to pay depending on how you need to use the account. Here’s a summary of the key features of basic bank accounts from some of the UK’s largest banks.

Bank/serviceHSBC BarclaysLloyds Bank
Account opening feeNo feeNo feeNo fee
Monthly chargesNo feeNo feeNo fee
Interest earning opportunityUp to 1% AER gross, by setting up a regular savings arrangementNot applicableNot applicable
ATM withdrawal fees

GBP withdrawals in the UK may be free

International withdrawals - 2% fee from 1.75 GBP to 5 GBP

GBP withdrawals in the UK may be free

International withdrawals - 2.99% fee

GBP withdrawals in the UK, and EUR withdrawals in the EEA may be free

Other international withdrawals - 1.50 GBP fee

Foreign transaction fee2.75% applies on all international spending and withdrawals2.99% 2.99% applies on all international spending and withdrawals
International money transfer charges

Send to HSBC account: no fee

Send online in the EEA in EUR - no fee

Send online in other currencies - 5 GBP fee

Receive payment - 5 GBP fee

Intermediary fees may apply

Online payments have no upfront transfer fee

Receive payment - up to 6 GBP fee

Intermediary fees may apply

Euro payments have no upfront transfer fee

Any other currency - 9.50 GBP Lloyds fee + 12 GBP to 20 GBP correspondent bank fees

Receive payment - up to 7 GBP fee

Account closure feeNo feeNo feeNo fee
Other notable features

Up to 300 GBP per day in ATM withdrawals allowed

Optional arranged overdraft

Optional arranged overdraftEarn cash back on card spending with selected merchants

Pros and cons of bank checking accounts


  • Reliable, familiar banking brands

  • No ongoing monthly fees to pay

  • Branch support available if you’d prefer to transact face to face

  • Full range of financial services including access to overdrafts


  • Transaction fees do still apply

  • International payments, spending and withdrawal can be particularly costly

  • Accounts can usually only hold, exchange and receive payments in GBP

To sum up: While truly fee free accounts are few and far between, you can definitely cut your money management costs by choosing an account which is free for the everyday services you use most.

If you prefer to keep tabs on your money via your phone, or if you regularly transact in foreign currencies, accounts from fintech specialists like Revolut and Wise are likely to appeal. On the other hand if you’ll be spending and withdrawing in the UK only, and if you prefer a face to face service option, check out the basic bank accounts we’ve profiled above to see if one suits your needs better.

Go to Wise

How to choose a fee-free bank account?

Nobody wants to pay more than absolutely necessary for ways to receive, spend and save their own hard earned money. However, operating a bank or fintech company comes with costs - which are ultimately passed on to consumers either in the form of ongoing account charges, or transaction fees. That means that finding a truly fee free bank account in the UK is pretty much impossible.

Instead, look for accounts which offer no monthly maintenance fee, no minimum balance or required monthly activity, and low transaction fees. In particular look at the costs for international transactions like sending and withdrawing foreign currencies, as these can be among the highest - and hardest to spot - costs charged by traditional banks.

Compare a few banks and modern alternative providers such as Wise or Revolut to pick the one which best suits your individual needs.

Documents and eligibility

To open the accounts profiled above from Barclays or Lloyds you’ll have to be a UK resident, aged 18 or older. HSBC accounts are offered to UK or EU residents, but you’ll have to agree to a credit check and pull together a pretty comprehensive pack of documents to apply.

Normally to open a fee free account from a regular bank you’ll need:

  • Proof of identity

  • Proof of address

  • A UK phone number

However, some providers may ask for more, including proof of all your addresses for the last 3 years, proof of income and employment, and a credit check.

If you’re applying for an account from a specialist online service like Wise or Revolut you’ll need to provide proof of ID and address. If you’re not based in the UK you may be able to use a foreign proof of ID to get your account set up.

When you might need a fee-free basic bank account

Fee free basic bank accounts are handy if you’re looking for ways to cut your banking costs, while still accessing most account features. They’re especially popular with people who don’t want to hold a fixed balance in their accounts - a common requirement for more ‘premium’ UK bank accounts.

Basic bank accounts can also suit new arrivals in the UK, international students, people opening their first bank account - and more or less anyone who wants to pay less to spend their own money.

Options when we can't get a fee-free with your bank

Traditional UK banks will need you to provide a range of documents and a UK proof of address to open an account - which can be hard if you’re new to the country or simply don’t have all the paperwork to hand. In this case it’s well worth checking out alternatives - like Wise and Revolut, which can often help you to open an account online or in-app, with your normal proof of ID and your proof of address, even if it’s outside of the UK.


While completely fee free bank accounts don’t really exist, it is possible to pay less to manage your money, by choosing a basic bank account from a traditional bank, or looking for an alternative account from a fintech company like Wise or Revolut.

Traditional banks offer accounts with no ongoing fees, but do tend to wrap up charges into some of the features on offer, especially if you’ll be transacting in a foreign currency online or when you travel. Fintech accounts can offer a lot of the features a bank account does - but will often have lower transaction costs as they use modern approaches and technology to drive down the costs of offering financial services. Use this guide as a starting point to see which provider and account suits your needs best.


Which banks have no monthly fees?

All the UK’s major banks offer basic accounts which have no monthly charges to pay. However, they’ll usually have transaction costs which can still mount up quickly. Take a look at alternative providers like Wise and Revolut for a new way to keep your costs down while still accessing flexible account services.

How to keep a current account fee free?

To make sure you don’t pay fees for your regular current account you’ll need to review the account terms and conditions carefully, and avoid transactions which come with costs. Common fees include out of network and international ATM withdrawals, sending and receiving international payments, and unauthorised overdraft costs.

Do current accounts pay interest?

Some current accounts from major UK banks - as well as some accounts from fintech providers like Revolut - do pay interest. However, to benefit fully from this you may be required to make regular savings or upgrade your account to a fee paying product.