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 currency account.

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

Starling Euro account

starling euro account

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 added 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.

“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.

Fees

Unfortunately, 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%) and cheaper than you will find elsewhere. 

Negative interest rates: A number of eurozone countries have had negative interest rates for some time now. This is normally unheard of in the UK, however, Starling has opted to charge a -0.5% AER interest rate on its Euro account for balances over €50,000. For example, a balance of €50,000 would not pay interest, but a balance of €51,000, you would pay 0.5% interest on everything above €50,000. In this case on the extra €1,000. As always, it is not advisable to hold such a large balance in a current account, although Starling does have full FSCS protection. 

What to watch out for

There are a couple of drawbacks to the account. Firstly it doesn’t use SEPA instant, so transfers in and out can take day. Secondly, there is no proof payment 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. 

Eligibility

In order to open a Euro account you must first hold a regular Starling current account. Fortunately the application process is quick and easy via the Starling app, but it is an extra step compared to others in the list. Particularly if you already have current accounts you are happy with elsewhere. 

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.

>> Get a Starling account

Revolut

Revolut card in coffee shop

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.  

Fees

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. 

Instant payments

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.

Eligibility

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.

>> Get a Revolut account

Wise (formerly TransferWise)

wise account

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. 

It is a little different though in what it offers. 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

Fees

Wise is totally upfront with its fees, and whilst it might not always be cheaper than Revolut, 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 watch out for. 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, but there are times when it might be required temporarily. 

Eligibility

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. 

>> Get a Wise Multi Currency account

Barclays

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.

Here you can find more information about the fees for using the account 

Eligibility

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. 

3 Comments

  • Kevin haslam

    Starling now charge 2% on EUR to sterling transfers

    • Carl Michael

      I’ve double checked this. I’m still seeing 0.4% both ways.

  • ubrain

    A fairly crucial omission here: (Transfer)Wise now CHARGES interest of 0.4% on Euro credit balances over 15000€

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