Banks in Scotland: How to open a bank account
Looking for a bank account in Scotland? Here’s how to pick the best bank.
If you’re planning to open a bank account in Scotland, you’ll need to think about the type of bank account you want as well as the bank itself.
Compare current accounts of popular banks operating in Scotland
There are several different banks to consider if you live in Scotland, so here’s how to find the best one.
Well-known Scottish banks
Bank of Scotland
Bank of Scotland is Scotland’s first and oldest bank, having been founded by an Act of the Scottish Parliament on 17 July 1695. In 2001, the Bank of Scotland merged with Halifax to form HBOS. Then in 2009, HBOS was acquired by Lloyds Banking Group, making it the largest retail bank in the UK.
Lloyds Banking Group’s registered office and Scottish headquarters are in the historic Bank of Scotland building on The Mound in Edinburgh.
Royal Bank of Scotland
Royal Bank of Scotland is a major retail and commercial bank and was established in Edinburgh in 1727. In 2000, its holding company the Royal Bank of Scotland Group acquired NatWest and in 2020 its name was changed to NatWest Group.
Most of the bank’s branches are in Scotland, but it also has branches in England and Wales.
Clydesdale Bank is a retail and commercial bank that was established in Glasgow in 1838. Having expanded rapidly over the decades, in 2018 Clydesdale’s Bank holding company CYBG announced it was acquiring Virgin Money.
The Clydesdale Bank brand is now in the process of being phased out.
The first Trustee Savings Bank (TSB) was established in Dumfriesshire in 1810, with the purpose of serving the local community. TSBs quickly became popular and by 1986, a number of them had been integrated into the TSB Group which then floated on the London Stock Exchange.
In 1995, TSB merged with Lloyds Bank to form Lloyds TSB, but in 2013 they once again became 2 different banks.
What type of bank account should you choose?
When comparing banks you will need to consider what type of account works best for you.
If you’re after an account to carry out everyday banking tasks such as paying bills and subscriptions, you’ll need a current account. You can have your salary paid into your account and use your debit card to make payments and withdraw cash. Some accounts will also offer an overdraft so consider whether you are likely to need one. Be on the lookout for switching incentives too.
Alternatively, if you want somewhere to stash some extra cash, you’ll need a savings account – ideally one that pays a decent rate of interest. There are several types of savings accounts so consider what would work best for you.
Everyone should have some savings in an account that can be accessed easily in an emergency. For example, in case your car needs urgent repairs.
If you have a lump sum of cash that you can leave untouched for a year or more, locking it away in a fixed rate bond will often give you a better rate of interest. Some savings accounts also let you pay in a set amount each month for 12 months to help you get into the savings habit.
How to choose a bank account
To help you choose the right bank account, we’ve outlined some of the factors to consider:
- Access. Do you need to be able to pop into a local branch to carry out your banking tasks or are you happy banking online or via an app? If you prefer to bank face-to-face, check which banks have branches near you. If you’re looking for a savings account, consider whether you want to access your money as needed or if you’re prepared to lock it away.
- Interest rates. Savings accounts and some current accounts pay interest on your balance. Check which accounts pay the most competitive rates, whether there is a maximum balance interest it’s paid on and if you need to meet certain criteria to earn it.
- Rewards and benefits. Some current accounts will also pay you cashback or offer perks such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance so consider whether this is important to you. If it is, bear in mind that some accounts will charge a monthly fee.
- Customer service. If the most important factor to you is good customer service, check which banks have the best customer reviews before you apply.
- Overdrafts. If you need an overdraft, hunt out one that charges a low rate of interest. If you’re a student, most student bank accounts offer an interest-free overdraft while you’re studying, but the size of the overdraft varies depending on the bank.
- Kids offers. You might also want to choose a bank account for your child, in which case see whether you get any preferential offers for being an existing customer. Some banks will require that you have an account with them before you can open a child’s account.
- Business opportunities. If you run a small business, it can be worth opening a business bank account to keep your business and personal finances separate.
There are a number of different banks and bank accounts to choose from if you live in Scotland, so it’s important to do your research and consider which is best for you. Different banks and bank accounts will suit different preferences and circumstances so you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of each before deciding.
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