Best GBP account in the US
If you send, receive, hold, or spend British pounds (GBP) frequently, you could save time and money with a GBP account. Sterling accounts can be useful for both individuals and businesses, to cut the costs of international transactions and currency conversion.
You may find it more difficult than you expect to open a pound sterling account with your regular bank in the US, although some global British banking brands do offer GBP accounts to US citizens and residents. The downside here can be that GBP accounts from banks can be cumbersome, slow, and expensive. Specialist providers like Wise and Revolut can be good alternatives.
In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about opening a pound sterling account, including the best GBP account US, the costs, and how to open one.
Can a GBP account be opened in the US?
Few US based traditional banks offer GBP accounts to retail customers. However, you do have a couple of options here. Many UK based banks allow non-residents – including US citizens – to open GBP accounts through their international banking divisions. Eligibility criteria and high minimum balances do often apply, though.
You might find you’re better off looking at specialist online services instead, which tend to be cheaper and have less restrictive eligibility criteria. Many online providers also offer accounts tailored to US businesses, freelancers and online sellers who need a GBP account to transact internationally.
This guide will walk through some smart options to help you find the best GBP account in the US for yourself or your business.
What are the advantages of a GBP account in the US?
If you pay or get paid in British pounds regularly you may benefit from a GBP account.
A foreign currency account can make it easier to ride out fluctuations in currency exchange rates. Hold your GBP balance if exchange rates deteriorate and convert it to USD only once the rates have improved. Or, look to capitalize on good exchange rates by buying pounds sterling for future use when the rates look good, and holding them in your GBP account until you need them
If you’re a business owner or work with international clients in the UK, a GBP account can make it far easier – and cheaper – to get paid. Just give your GBP bank account details to clients and have them pay you with a local transfer. It’s free for them, and fast for you. Or if you’re an online seller you can use your account to collect GBP payments from PSPs like Stripe and marketplaces like Amazon. Hold your balance as it is, or convert it back to USD using your preferred provider.
Best GBP accounts
There are a few great providers both in the UK and internationally, which offer GBP accounts for US based individuals and businesses. Picking the best one for you will depend on your specific needs and the sort of transactions you’ll want to make. Here are a few options to consider:
|Provider||Availability||Fees||Debit card||Other features|
|Wise||Personal and business customers||Yes|
|Revolut||Personal and business customers||Yes|
|HSBC||Personal customers in eligible states||No|
|Natwest||Personal and business customers||Up to currency equivalent of 8 GBP/month||Yes||Accounts available in 25 major currencies|
|Barclays International||High wealth individual||Yes|
Wise accounts are designed for personal and business customers and can hold GBP as well as 50+ other currencies. When you open your account for free online you can get your own bank account details for 10 different currencies including GBP, as well as a linked debit card for spending and withdrawals at home and abroad. Hold and convert currencies in your account, or send payments to 80+ countries – all currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees.
Fees: No fee to open a personal account, 31 USD one-off fee to open a business account. No monthly fee for either personal or business accounts
Currency conversion: Hold and convert 54 currencies with the mid-market exchange rate
Other notable features: Receive payments like a local from 30 countries, send money to 80+ countries, spend with your linked debit card in 200+ countries
Revolut accounts for both personal and business customers can hold 28+ different currencies including GBP. Standard plans are free or you can choose to upgrade to a paid plan for more features and fee-free transactions. Even the free Standard plans offer up to 1,000 USD/month currency conversion which uses the mid-market exchange rate, meaning you can top up your account in USD and switch to GBP when you need to with no exchange rate markup. Paid plans offer higher fee-free limits.
Fees: Standard accounts are free. Upgrade to a fee paid personal account for up to 16.99 USD/month or a fee paid business account for up to 149.99 USD/month
Currency conversion: 28+ fiat currencies available
Other notable features: Broad range of account services including budgeting tools, savings and investments
The HSBC US Global Money Account can be opened in 8 currencies including GBP. There are no fees to open the account, and you’ll be able to manage your money entirely from your mobile device. You’ll need an HSBC deposit account to link to your Global Money Account.
HSBC US recently announced it would stop serving some states – double check the details for your state before you begin the application process.
Fees: No fees to open account or send global transfers – an exchange rate margin will apply when you convert between currencies in the account, or send to a different currency
Currency conversion: USD, GBP + 6 other foreign currencies offered
Other notable features: Not available in all US states – check the details before you apply
Natwest’s International Select Account lets customers hold and manage 25 currencies including GBP. If you’re a US resident and can place a minimum opening deposit of 25,000 GBP to open your account, you may be eligible to get your International Select Account, which can also be paired with a Cash Management account for foreign currency savings.
Businesses can also open a Cash Management account to hold, grow and manage their foreign currency balance, including holding GBP.
Fees: Currency equivalent of 8 GBP/month
Currency conversion: 25 major currencies covered
Other notable features: Minimum deposit of 25,000 GBP. Cash Management savings and fixed term deposit accounts also available in GBP
Airwallex has business accounts which are designed to hold GBP, USD, AUD and EUR. Integrate your account with online stores if you’re an ecommerce seller, or use your local bank details to get paid in GBP from international clients. Currency conversion is available with a competitive exchange rate. Debit cards are available for account holders and their teams.
Fees: No fees to open or operate account
Currency conversion: Local receiving accounts in 4 global currencies, payments offered in 31 currencies
Other notable features: Business friendly features like bulk payments available
Barclays International offers foreign currency accounts which are aimed at high wealth individuals who would like to open an account in GBP and access personal banking services. These accounts are held in the Isle of Man, and provided through Barclay’s specialist international banking division. As Barclays is a large global bank, you’ll also be able to access a range of other products like overdrafts, investments and advice about mortgage products which may be available to you.
Fees: No monthly fee if you maintain a minimum balance of 100,000 GBP or currenncy equivalent – 40 GBP/month fall below fee may apply if you fail to maintain this balance
Currency conversion: Accounts available in EUR, USD and GBP; you can also trade in up to 60 different currencies
Other notable features: Minimum opening balance is 100,000 GBP in either this account or other eligible Barclays products
How to open a GBP account in the US
Opening a GBP account with a specialist online service can usually be done easily online or on your mobile device. If you’d prefer to look for an account with a physical bank you may need to visit a branch to get started. In either case, the process is usually similar:
- Choose the best provider for your needs
- Register for your account online, through the provider app, or in a branch
- Give your personal and contact information
- Complete the required verification steps
- Fund your account – and you’re ready to go
When you open your account you’ll need to prove your ID and residential address. The exact documents you need will vary depending on the account type, but can include:
- Government issued photo ID
- Proof of address – a utility bill or bank statement in your name for example
- Business registration documents if you’re opening a business account
A GBP account can make life easier if you need to hold, send, receive or spend British pounds. You’ll cut international payment costs and can manage fluctuations in the exchange rate more easily. However, the main US banks don’t have a great range of pound sterling accounts on offer, and the accounts available from UK based providers often have restrictive eligibility requirements.
You may be better off choosing an online provider which can offer a more flexible account with lower fees and no minimum balance requirement. Use this guide to kickstart your research and find your perfect GBP account match, whether you’re a personal or business customer, freelancer or online seller.
Can I open a GBP account in the US?
You can open a pound sterling account in the US – often the easiest way is using a specialist online service or a UK based global banking brand. Use this guide to start your research to find the perfect GBP account for your needs.
How much does it cost to open a GBP account?
Many GBP accounts are free to open with low, or no ongoing fees. However, the GBP accounts offered through global banks’ international divisions may have high minimum balance requirements to avoid a fall below fee.