Help me become a Londoner!

Smylers Smylers at
Thu Nov 19 12:19:19 GMT 2009

Gianni Ceccarelli writes:

> - is there a no-interest, no-fees, everything-on-the-web bank that can
> be trusted (at least a bit :) ) with my money?

Most 'normal' UK current accounts are without ongoing monthly charges
for merely having the account.  There are some 'premium' accounts which
charge and provide sundry extras, but they are easily avoided.

And all the major banking providers have web access, which generally
lets you do everything online (even if other options are available)
except for paying in cheques.

All UK banking providers have government guarantees which cover up to
£50k per customer.  So in practice you're safe with any of them.  (If
you have more than £50k, split it between several banking providers.)

>- anything else a foreigner really ought to know?

I say "banking provider" rather than "bank" above, because some
institutions that aren't banks do provide banking services -- in
particular, some building societies.

Outwardly building societies look very similar to banks, but the
difference is that they are membership organizations rather than being
owned by shareholders.  That means that they aren't trying to make
profits from customers to pass to shareholders, and that by becoming a
customer you also become a member and get a vote in their annual

As a generalization building societies have been less keen than banks to
get involved with investing savers' money in weird finanical instruments
(rather than just lending it to other members to buy houses with), so if
you have a distrust of banks you may prefer a building society.  (But
behaviour varies between individual institutions; some building
societies did indeed get caught up in the recent financial mess).

Nationwide is the country's biggest building society, and provides a
bank-style current account.  Many of the others are smaller
institutions, local to a particular area of the country; some of them
may not do current accounts or online banking.

PS:  Welcome!


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