A guide on how to open a bank account in Iceland from the UK, covering everything expats and international students need to know.
If you’re someone who needs to frequently move money across borders, you may be losing money with every transfer. Opening a euro account at your bank can help, but many banks charge transfer fees and intermediary bank fees when you make a transfer, and they might also mark-up their exchange rates when they convert your money. There has to be a better way, right?
Wise may be a cheaper option for you, as they offer fair transfer fees and they always convert your money with the actual mid-market exchange rate. But more on that in a minute. First, here’s what you need to know about opening a euro account with the Royal Bank of Scotland, or RBS.
RBS doesn’t offer international services under that brand anymore, but instead under its other brand, NatWest. If you’re an RBS customer, you can access international services through NatWest.¹
Natwest doesn’t offer a specific euro account, but they offer a multi-currency account instead, which also lets you hold euros. You can make euro transfers from the account via the SWIFT network, this means there’s a good chance of intermediary banks being involved, which can take a fee from the amount, as well as receiving fees from the recipient bank. For an annual fee, you can also get a “Currency charge card” connected to the multi currency account. With that card you can make over the counter payments in both euros and USD.²
As an RBS customer in the UK, you can open a NatWest Cash management account as long as you meet the bank’s requirements³. You must be over 16, and you might be asked to provide documents that confirm your identity; the bank’s website doesn’t specify a certain - minimum - amount which is required to open an account, so it may vary case-by-case.⁵
A UK euro bank account can be very beneficial for anyone who frequently transfers money between different countries, especially if those countries are all within the eurozone. Although the euro generally tends to be a stable currency, when you hold your money in euros, you protect it from any currency fluctuations and exchange rate risks.Then you can convert it into different currencies only when the exchange rate is favourable to do so, or when you really need to.
Another option, if you’re considering NatWest, might be Wise. Wise offers a borderless euro account, which comes with some extra benefits that should appeal to people who move money across borders with some regularity. A Wise borderless euro account isn’t a bank account, but having one still gets you your own European bank account details, called an IBAN. You’re not restricted to holding money only in euros - you can manage, send and receive money in more than 40 global currencies all at once. You can make transfers in euros to family and friends in the eurozone for a small fixed fee.
There’s no monthly fee to have a Cash management account at NatWest. But sending and receiving international transfers with your NatWest account will cost you. The fees you can expect are in the table below:
|Incoming international transfer||Up to £100 - no charges from Natwest / £7.50 for over £100|
|Outgoing international “Standard transfer” in euros⁴||£10 per transfer - possible receiving fees for the recipient|
|Outgoing international “Standard transfer”, non-euro to Europe and the rest of the world⁴||£22 per transfer - possible receiving fees for the recipient|
|Expedited international transfer⁶||£30 per transfer - possible receiving fees for the recipient|
When you send money in euros to be received in a different currency, you should keep in mind that the money will be converted. Depending on the exchange rate the bank uses, you might also pay for an exchange rate markup.This happens when the bank doesn’t convert your money with the mid-market rate, which is the only real exchange rate and the one that banks use between themselves. You can find the mid-market rate when you Google your currency pair, or use an online currency converter, to look up the current rate.
If you choose a Wise borderless euro account, there are no fees to set up or maintain the account. There’s also no cost for adding money to your account via a bank transfer or to send euros to friends and family in the eurozone. Outside of the eurozone, transfers cost a small fee depending on the destination. And Wise always uses the mid-market rate, so there are no hidden fees from exchange rate markups.
To open a Cash management account at NatWest, you’ll have to call a representative². There are different number you can call, depending on where you’re calling from.
If you have any questions before you make a decision, you can visit their FAQ page, or make an appointment in a branch to talk to someone personally⁷.
Opening a Wise borderless euro account, on the other hand, can be done entirely online, and is quick, easy and free. Simply hit the sign up button, enter your personal information, and then verify your contact information via your mobile phone. Then choose the currency you’d like to use for your account, and Wise will get to work on verifying your personal details. That’s it!
Having to move money across international borders on a regular basis can be a headache, and the cost of doing so can really start to add up. If you make frequent international transfers, you owe it to yourself and your wallet to choose the banking and transfer method that’s best - and most cost-effective - for you. Whether that’s a bank or an alternative transfer service like Wise, this guide should start to give you an idea of the ins and outs of international banking. Hopefully, this helped you get closer to deciding what direction is going to be best for your needs.
1.https://www.rbsinternational.com/global/mandatory-message.ashx?intcam=OFFHPM_Account_Changing#tabs=section1 (August 8, 2018)
2.https://www.natwestinternational.com/nw/personal-banking/savings-and-investments/cash-management-account.ashx (August 8, 2018)
3.https://www.natwestinternational.com/downloads/nw/Personal-Banking-Terms.pdf (August 8, 2018)
4.https://personal.natwest.com/personal/ways-to-bank/online-banking/do-more-with-online-banking/sending-money-abroad/standard-transfers.html (August 8, 2018)
5.https://personal.natwest.com/personal/support-centre.html (August 8, 2018)
6.https://personal.natwest.com/personal/ways-to-bank/online-banking/do-more-with-online-banking/sending-money-abroad/urgent-transfers.html (August 8, 2018)
7.https://www.natwestinternational.com/nw/global/contact.ashx?channel=personal-banking (August 8, 2018)
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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