“I want to open a normal current account in Euros and live in the UK. I want a debit card and no monthly charges for the pleasure of having an account. Any ideas?“
You’re not alone. There are more people than ever looking to have the convenience of a euro account, but you’re not going to find a particularly warm welcome at your traditional high street bank branch. Barclays and HSBC, for instance, both require you to have a sterling account before you can open a euro account, and neither will give you a separate debit with the euro account.
Lloyds does offer a euro account with a debit card, but charges £7.50 a month, and requires a deposit of at least £25,000. Meanwhile Santander offers a euro account through its private bank Cater Allen, but you’ll need to apply through an accountant or financial adviser to open one and deposit at least £5,000.
There are a range of challenger banks which could meet your needs, although they’re not strictly normal current accounts in the traditional sense (you won’t get an overdraft, for instance). They’re mainly free multi-currency accounts available through apps on your phone from the likes of Revolut, Starling and TransferWise ( as well as Monese at £4.95 a month). You can transfer money through their apps and use the cards as payment or to withdraw cash.
But it’s essential to be wary of hidden fees in exchange rates, warns Jenifer Swallow from Transferwise.
“Sneaky pricing, such as advertising the transaction as ‘free’ or ‘0% commission’, then hiding the real charge in the exchange rate – are the norm among traditional providers and dupe people into thinking they are getting a good deal when they are not,”
That’s because most providers don’t use the mid-market rate for currency conversions, but instead use their own less-attractive exchange rate.
Depending on how often you plan to use the card, falling foul of a bad exchange rate could be a really costly mistake.
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Simon Read is a money writer and broadcaster. He writes for the BBC, the Evening Standard, Daily Mirror and appears as a money commentator on several tv and radio stations. He is Moneywise Magazine’s Fight For Your Rights columnist and writes a monthly column for Financial Adviser magazine.