Bank account that works both in US and UK
November 26, 2016 6:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a bank account that works both in the US and UK. My situation - UK citizen, US green card. My main need at the moment - for folks in the UK who are dealing with estate matters to conveniently deposit sterling in the UK, which I can then access, should I need to, in the US or the UK. Thank you!

Folks in the UK would like to transfer sterling to me. I'm British, but live/work in the US. Local US banks are a pain to deal with in terms of money transfers. So to set up an easier process, I'm looking for an account that:
- I can easily access in the US.
- Folks in the UK, some of whom are elderly, can easily transfer money into. That is they can walk into their local branch and very easily make a transfer or a deposit to my account in the UK.
- I can draw on either in the US or the UK as needed. At the moment I don't need to draw any cash.
- I'm happy to pay some reasonable upfront account fees to avoid hassle (poor exchange rates, commissions, lack of paper trail, etc.) down the road.
I know there are options - HSBC, AMEX, etc. - maybe PayPal? And there have been previous AskMe questions. But has anyone had recent experience of doing this? Wider flexibility (works in more countries) a bonus. Thanks again!
posted by life moves pretty fast to Work & Money (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the US and use Barclays online savings accounts for USD only. I transfer in and out of my Barclays accounts to my other US/USD accounts all the time.

If I needed to do what you're looking at doing in reverse, my first stop would be Barclays, with the assumption that I could open up another Barclays account for GBP that would talk to the USD Barclays account (and since it would be a same bank transfer, the exchange and other fees would presumably be more reasonable.
posted by phunniemee at 6:22 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Barclays Wealth (offshore bank) is a great option, as you can get foreign currency accounts. For example, if you start with a GBP account, and add a USD account, people in the UK can transfer money into it using standard sort code and account number process. Once its in the GBP account, you can either leave it there, and access it as a normal GBP bank account, or you can transfer it to the USD account. You can manage both accounts from a single login – one will show up as the GBP account, and the other as a USD account.

That has the benefit of not incurring any fees for the transfer. It will still charge you the mid-market currency exchange rate, but there are no transaction fees attached. Further, Barclays is part of the Global ATM Alliance, which means that you can access cash from either the GBP or USD account in the US with no transaction fees. Although if you were to use the GBP account, you'll still have currency exchange fees.

Where that will be limiting is in your ability to pay into from the US, as both bank accounts will effectively be in the UK.

Other options:

1) Charles Schwab has a pretty sweet deal, where they refund all international ATM (and maybe transfer) fees. Your process there would be to set up a UK bank account for them to put the money into. Then use TransferWise or similar to move the funds to the Schwab US account, where you could then access the cash either in the US or the UK free.

2) HSBC supports multi-country accounts. You can open a UK bank account, and also a US bank account and pretty seamlessly transfer between the two without paying additional fees.
posted by nickrussell at 6:32 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Citibank has a few branches in the UK that can hold sterling (and dollars). You can transfer from the sterling accounts to a US Citibank dollar account instantly and vice versa. On the other hand, it's Citibank, so customer service is presumably not great.
posted by caek at 7:43 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

There's also a Citibank Gold account, which lets you open accounts in other countries without going there, but they want a $200,000 initial balance.
posted by w0mbat at 10:40 AM on November 26, 2016

Some good suggestions here, I'll use them to start making further inquiries. Thanks everyone!
posted by life moves pretty fast at 4:22 AM on November 28, 2016

Followup - I contacted Barclays Online Savings, unfortunately they don't handle international wires.
posted by life moves pretty fast at 6:49 AM on December 31, 2016

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