How to open a First Direct euro account


Although more people than ever are living and working internationally, many traditional banks haven’t kept pace with the trend. That means that the services offered by high-street and traditional banks don’t always suit those of us who travel regularly, or freelancers and entrepreneurs who pay - or get paid - in a currency other than their own.

A great example of this is currency conversion and international money transfers. Every time that you exchange currency or pay someone abroad in a different currency, there are costs and fees to pay.

These charges can quickly mount up. A possible solution is to open a euro bank account to reduce or avoid the costs of currency exchange. However, not all UK banks offer euro-denominated bank accounts - and where they are available, they come with their own fees and charges which you’ll have to consider.

There are also smart new alternatives like the euro account from Wise. If you want both convenience and low costs, then it pays to do your research, covering both traditional banks, and specialist services such as Wise.

To get you started, here’s the lowdown on euro bank accounts with First Direct.

Need to manage money in multiple currencies or countries? Wise could help

Before you get started, a word.

Banks often charge hefty fees for foreign and multi-currency accounts. And if you’ve already tried managing multiple accounts in multiple countries, you know it’s rarely simple.

Wise could help. With Wise, it’s free to open a multi-currency account with no monthly fees. There, you can manage and send dozens of different currencies all from the same account. All around the world. (Likely, for a lot cheaper than your bank.)

Give it a try. Check out Wise today.

Now, back to what you came here to read.

Does First Direct offer a euro account?

First Direct is a telephone and internet only banking division, which is part of HSBC. Although it used to be possible to get a First Direct euro account, these are no longer on offer for new customers.

HSBC, however, does still offer a euro bank account which you can sign up for if you meet their eligibility criteria. You’ll need to be over the age of 18, a UK resident and already have a regular sterling account with HSBC, which can’t be a student account or basic bank account. You can read more about how to open an HSBC euro account.1

If you love First Direct because of the convenience of banking online - and the restrictions applied means that opening a HSBC euro account doesn’t suit your needs, then you could choose instead to open a euro account from Wise. You might even save some money.

The Wise euro account allows you to manage your money online, for convenience and flexibility. As well as euros, you can also hold dozens of different currencies in the same account.

You can easily see your balance across currencies online or on the Wise app, and transfer your balance between different currencies when you need to.

All transfers are made using the mid-market exchange rate, and with only a small transparent fee for each transaction. This could mean you’re better off than you would be with a regular euro bank account from a high street bank, because the mid-market rate isn’t generally used by banks and money exchange services. Instead, they often mark up the exchange rate they offer, hiding the true costs of the transaction, and protecting their profit. With Wise, everything is up front, and there are no nasty, hidden surprises.

Benefits of a UK euro bank account: Who is it for?

Having a euro bank account could be useful if you’re:

  • An expat living in a country that uses euros
  • A freelancer or entrepreneur and get paid or pay suppliers in euros
  • A frequent traveller in the eurozone
  • Paying for regular financial commitments in the euro area, such as a mortgage on a holiday home, or fees for studying abroad

Having a euro-denominated bank account suits people in a variety of circumstances - but they all benefit from similar advantages - such as:

  • Avoiding currency fluctuations by only exchanging money between sterling and euros when the rates look good
  • Reducing or eliminating entirely the high costs of international bank transfers on some payments made in euros
  • Keeping your money safe - as long as you have a euro account which is regulated by the FCA

The multi-currency account from Wise is striclty regulated, just like most other euro bank accounts on offer from traditional UK banking brands. However, a Wise multi-currency account also offers the following benefits:

  • Easy and convenient online account set up
  • Hold dozens of currencies within one account - not just euros
  • Transfer euros to friends and family for a small fee within the eurozone
  • Get paid like a local in the euro area, and also in the UK, the US and Australia, with local bank details
  • No service charge to maintain your account
  • You may be able to get a debit card, to pay directly in stores and restaurants when you travel

The multicurrency account from Wise isn’t a bank account. It’s a smart new way to pay and be paid in euros - as well as other currencies - at a low cost, and with many of the benefits of a more traditional account.

How much does it cost?

Of course, to decide whether to opt for a euro account from a traditional bank or a specialist like Wise, you need to know what are the costs of both.

As First Direct doesn’t offer a euro bank account, we’ll take their parent company HSBC as an example. Here are some of the fees listed for HSBC’s euro account - you can get the full list of relevant charges from HSBC’s FAQ section:

Service requiredHSBC euro account fee2
Paying out of your accountTo another HSBC account - freeVarious fees are added if you’re making a payment to a non-HSBC account, depending on factors including the currency you’re paying out in, and method of payment. These range from 6 - 12 EUR, 6 - 14 USD or 8 - 18 AUD.
Electronic payments into your accountFree
Cheque payments into your accountVarious fees are added, depending on the currency you’re paying in, and also the value of the cheque. These range from 8 - 83 EUR, 9 - 93 USD, or 12 - 121 AUD
Collection charge per chequeVarious fees are added, depending on the currency.

The other thing you need to watch out for with HSBC - and many other high street banks - is that extra charges could be added in addition to those detailed above for international payments. Here’s what they say:

For International Payments, the recipient's bank, and any foreign bank we may use to send the payment, may also make a charge. This is outside HSBC's control. 2

That’s because international payments through traditional banks are often made via the SWIFT network. Up to 3 banks might work together to process a single international transaction - and each of them can add their own fees and charges, making the costs unpredictable and often staggeringly high.

If you choose a euro account from Wise, instead, the charges are much easier to digest. Here they are:

Service requiredWise euro account fee
Account openingFree
Adding money to your Wise euro accountFree
Receiving money into your Wise euro accountFree
Setting up local bank details for the euro area, UK, US or AustraliaFree
Converting money to other currenciesLow and transparent fees that can vary depending on the currencies involved - carried out at the real exchange rate
Withdrawing cash to a linked bank accountSmall, fixed fee, depending on the currency you’re withdrawing

How to open a euro account in the UK

If you decide to go with a traditional bank for your euro account, you’ll need to present documents to show you’re eligible for the account. Some banks allow you to apply online and provide copies of the paperwork to support your application - others say you must visit a branch in person. With HSBC you can open an account in person, online or over the telephone.2

You can expect to need the following:2

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of ID - like a valid passport or driving license
  • Proof of address - often a utility bill or bank statement which shows your UK address

Don’t forget that to be eligible, you’ll also need to have, or open, an HSBC sterling bank account as well.

Having a euro or multi-currency account can be a smart way to cut down the costs associated with exchanging money from sterling to euros. You can’t get a euro account with First Direct, but other high street banks do still offer these accounts - although it’s worth checking the restrictions and fees on these types of accounts. Make sure to also compare the costs of the high street with the benefits of a multi-currency account from Wise, to see which offers you the best deal.


  1. (March 15 2018)
  2. (March 15 2018)

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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