In this article we round up the best euro bank accounts, specifically looking at those that are say to open and offer the best rates on transfers.
BREXIT has moved the UK just a little further away its continental cousins, but there are still many reasons why you may want a euro account in the UK.
Perhaps you frequently travel to Eurozone countries, send money to friends or family abroad, earn money in euros or have European clients.
Whatever your situation, if you often find yourself spending or receiving money in Euros then you could benefit from holding a euro currency bank account. The trouble is how do you find one that’s right for you?
Most of the traditional ‘high-street’ banks offer banking in euros, but it’s often an antiquated and costly affair. In this article we take a look at some of the best euro bank account for UK residents. If you are just travelling then see our guide to the best credit and debit cards for travel If you’re an expat living abroad, then see our guide to the best bank accounts for expats.
Can I open a euro account in the UK?
Yes. despite the UK opting not to join the euro, it is part of the Single Euro Payments Aera (SEPA). Brexit hasn’t changed this. As a result it’s relatively quick and easy to open a euro bank account in the UK and send and receive payments in euros.
We’ve listed what consider to be the best UK euro accounts, based on our actual testing and trailing the accounts at home and abroad. As many of these are digital account, Barclays has also been included as a comparison.
Starling Euro account – best for everyday use
The Starling Euro account launched at the start of 2019 as a fee-free account allowing its holders to send and receive payments in euros, and make seamless fee free transfers between sterling and euro currencies.
Since then the account has grown into one of the best UK euro offerings around. Debit card functionality through the existing current account card, allowing current account holders to quickly convert their existing Starling debit card into a euro debit card with only a few taps.
It works by letting the card detect the currency being used, and automatically switching between either pounds or euros. The exchange rate used for card purchases is the Mastercard wholesale rate.
“A single card that can buy things in both Euros and Pounds is long overdue and something that we know our customers will value both in their personal and business lives,”Starling’s CEO Anne Boden.
The account works well and the euro version has most of the bells and whistles of the main GBP account including savings spaces and the bills manager, making it the top choice euro current account in the UK.
Towards the end of 2019 Starling introduced a fee 0.4% for converting between pounds and euros. Previously it was possible to move money from a Starling current account to the Euro account without any fees or commission.
There are ways to avoid this, and for small amounts the fee isn’t likely to cause any hardship, but it’s annoying nonetheless. That being said the fee is less than you’d pay with Revolut (0.5% outside of the free allowance) and cheaper than you will find at most other banks.
For a while Starling had negative interest rates on euros but given the rise in interest rates by the ECB along with most other central banks around the world, this has no changed. Currently there is no interest paid or earned on the Starling Euro account.
What to watch out for
There are a couple of minor drawbacks to the account. Firstly it doesn’t use SEPA instant, so transfers in and out can take day. This might change soon as the European Commission has introduced draft legislation announcing the requirement for near real-time / instant payments.
Secondly, there is no proof payment or remittance statement. This is something that some receipients might ask for (it’s very common in Spain for example). Oddly Starling offers this on its GBP account, but not for Euro transactions. We have suggested this Starling so look out for a possible update in the future.
Despite these two points, Starling remains our top pick as the best euro account in the UK, and one of the few with full FSCS protection on deposits.
In order to open a Euro account you must first hold a regular Starling current account. Fortunately the application process is quick and easy, but it is an extra step compared to others in the list. Particularly if you already have current accounts you are happy with elsewhere. That being said, the Starling current account is one of the best around and has won the Best British Bank Account Awards four years in a row.
It’s a little extra burden for those that are happy with their current bank account, but there is no need to switch or even use the sterling based Starling current account. It just needs to be opened in order to get access to the Euro version.
Revolut – best for instant transfers
Although Revolut is now a bank in its own right (In the EU), it is better known as a versatile multi-currency tool which can be used to hold, convert and send funds all at the interbank exchange rate. That’s unfair, as Revolut does work as current account in it’s own right complete with your own account IBAN.
The account comes with a virtual card, but it’s best to order a physical card as a back up. Also be sure to test it before you before you travel.
There are no fees for transfers up to £5,000 a month and just a 0.5% thereafter. Fee-free ATM withdrawals are limited to £200 per 30 days (on the free package). If you need to exchange large amounts from one currency to another, or exchange currency frequently, it makes sense to forego the 0.50% free and instead sign up to the Premium service. On a £10,000 exchange, this would save around £18 assuming you hadn’t already used £5,000 free allowance, or over £40 if you had.
Additionally the Premium option also includes overseas medical insurance, and mobile phone coverage for a year.
Revolut isn’t always up front with its fees, and some require digging around in the terms and conditions. For example there is an additional 1% fee when exchanging money at weekends, so stick to weekdays where possible. There are also additional fees for transfers to US accounts.
Another benefit of Revolut that is worth pointing out, is that it is the only account in our list that can both send and receive SEPA instant payments. SEPA instant is similar to the UK’s Faster payments. It means payments sent to, or from participating banks show up in near real time. Compared to a day or two for regular SEPA payments.
Whilst on the subject of payments, another feather in the cap for Revolut is the payment confirmation statement. Many organisations abroad will ask for confirmation of payment when sending large sums, or initiating contracts. Starling offers this only on its GBP account. Revolut offers this for all transfers and also shows the payment status too. You’ll find this extremely useful when dealing with Spanish agencies.
What to watch out for
We mentioned that Revolut is a bank. Although a UK headquartered company Its banking licence is via Lithuania. As such UK Revolut accounts are not covered by the FSCS. Accounts opened with an EU address are however covered by the Lithuanian equivalent, the DPS up to €100,000. In the UK Revolut is e-money provider not at bank. UK rules mean e-money providers must ring-fence customer deposits here in the UK. In this case deposits are held with Lloyds.
It’s certainly not a reason to avoid Revolut, but certainly something to keep an eye-on especially if leaving substantial deposits in the account for any length of time.
There’s no special eligibility criteria other than the beyond having a UK or EU address. On signing up, you get a UK account number and sort code, plus an IBAN and SWIFT code for foreign receipts/payments.
Wise (formerly TransferWise) – best for large currency exchange
Wise is a multi-currency account aimed at expats, travellers, and freelancers. It is one of the most frequently recommended in expat groups and those with homes abroad and is commonly used by Brits buying properties in Spain and elsewhere and transferring large sums of money abroad.
Often compared to Revolut a little different in what it offers. The multi-currency account provides customers with free bank details for the Eurozone, as well as the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Poland:
- European IBAN
- British account number and sort code
- US account number and routing number
- Australian account number and BSB code
- New Zealand account number
- Polish account number
Wise is totally upfront with its fees, and whilst it might not always be the cheapest, you don’t have to go searching through the terms and conditions to find out how much something is going to cost.
ATM withdrawals are free up to £200 per 30 days. This matches Revolut and UK digital bank Monzo. Starling has no such limitations.
There is also a small conversion fee when you convert your money, typically between 0.35% and 2% depending on how exotic the currency is. Euros usually command a lower fee.
There are however a number of things to look out for depending on how you use the account. Firstly, there is no SWIFT support for incoming payments in Euros. That means accepting payments in Euros outside of the SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area) is problematic (the UK is part of SEPA). Though the whole reason for Euro account is to accept payments from the Eurozone, and hence in daily use you are unlikely to have a problem. SWIFT payments are available for sending money to non-SEPA institutions.
Again, like Revolut, Wise doesn’t have FSCS protection (though it is regulated by the FCA), but instead keeps all client funds in a Barclays bank account. As such, even if Wise went under, your money would be safe. However, if Barclay’s itself ceased to exist (extremely unlikely), your funds would be at risk.
Finally those keeping euro deposits over €15,000 are charged interest above that amount. The charge varies from €0.33 for being €1,000 over for a month, to €4 for a year. In most circumstances it doesn’t make sense to hold that much in a current account long term, but there are times when it might be required temporarily e.g. when getting ready for a transfer.
There’s no fee to open the account, but you will need to be over 18 and have proof of address and ID. Overall it’s low cost of entry makes a good account have as a back up.
Fineco Bank – best for large cash withdrawals
Fineco is an Italian financial services company, authorised by the Bank of Italy and subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK. It is a fully registered bank in the EU, and whilst it mostly promotes its trading account, it also offers a euro bank account to both UK and Italian residents.
The account is free to open, with no ongoing charges. You can choose either a euro or GBP card, with the euro card enjoying free ATM withdrawals across the eurozone, and the GBP card offering free spending in the UK. Both allow contactless spending up to €50 (or £45), and are compatible with ApplePay and GooglePay.
It has an Italian IBAN and of course offers fee-free euro direct debits, and bank transfers across the eurozone. SEPA instant transfers are also available but have a small transaction cost.
Just like Revolut, Fineco lets you can send and exchange money globally in 20 different currencies, but unlike some of the other accounts in our list, you don’t get the interbank exchange but instead a rate set by Fineco.
As such, the exchange rate applied is likely to be slightly worse than that offered by Starling, Wise or Revolut, but unlike those accounts it doesn’t apply any fees, so transfers can still work out to be cheaper.
Fineco’s own site actually shows it as being cheaper to exchange money than its competitors. Obviously, rates are constantly changing so you’d want to check before making any large exchanges.
Spending limits and withdrawals
One area where Fineco shines is on daily ATM withdrawal limits. The default ATM limit is €3,000 and can be increased in app to €5,000. Given that Starling only allows ATM withdrawals up to €300 a day, and Revolut starts charging once you go over £200 equivalent a month, then this really is the best euro bank account for those that like to carry cash.
Opening an account and eligibility
Opening a Fineco account also gives you access to the trading platform, but you don’t have to use it, and is something you can just ignore if you’re only interested in banking.
On application you’ll need to provide photo ID (either a passport of driving licence), and confusingly the application asks for your unique taxpayer reference (UTR). This is something that only self employed or those who have file their own tax returns would have. Instead you can enter your National Insurance number. Besides that, the application is straightforward, but since it is verified by a human, it can take a day or two before the account is active.
Find out more or apply for a Fineco account here.
Barclays – High street euro account
As traditional high-street banks go, Barclays has one of the lowest cost Euro accounts on the market and has eliminated many of fees present with other traditional banks.
Paying money into your Euro account is free for cash in the same currency. Free from your Sterling account if it’s in the same name. ATM withdrawals are free, as are international payments.
If you receive payments into your Euro account from outside of Europe, then there is a £6 charge. Cheques are also costly (but thankfully seldom used these days), and of course any telephone transfers are going to set you back, up to £25 in this case. But here’s the biggest drawback. There’s no ATM card. Rendering this account useless for travellers, but possibly still of value to those receiving money in Euros but spending in Sterling.
Unfortunately there’s another setback here. Unlike those listed above the account can only be opened via a physical Barclay’s branch (remember those?), or via telephone. You must be aged at least 18 years old, resident in the UK and you will need a Barclays sterling current account. Barclays Basic Current Account Holders are not eligible to open a currency account.