It can be difficult to setup a bank account when you first arrive in the UK, especially if you don’t have a job lined up. Banks will want to verify your details with you before they give you an account and it’s difficult if you don’t have any credit history in the UK. Without a local bank account it’s difficult to get a mobile phone contract, as they usually verify your address using your card.
There’s a few options available if you want to setup an account before you go:
- 1st contact’s Kick Start UK package
- i4 UK starter packs
- Australians can apply through the NAB
If you have left it until you arrive you can look at setting up a HSBC cash passport, although there’s a monthly fee for the first year. Another option is to approach another bank and try your luck. I know people who have set up an account with Lloyds without issues after they’ve arrived.
To learn more about banking in the UK and a list of banks download the guide to Banking from the British Bankers’ Association website - although it’s geared towards International students others will find it useful as well.