Banks in the UK

The banking sector in the UK consists of the country’s central bank (The Bank of England) and a number of UK private banks, international banks and building societies, which are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Several large banks dominate the sector and compete for market positions. There are currently 344 banks and 52 building societies in the UK. Unlike some other major economies, the UK does not have a large stratum of independent local banks.

In the last few years, Great Britain has grown steadily in online and mobile banking. Around two-thirds of adults in the UK use online banking and four in ten use mobile banking. However, physical banking is still popular and there are still around 20 thousand branches in the UK.

The private and commercial banking services market is dominated by HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Spain’s Santander UK (most of these companies have more than one UK bank brand). The fifth-largest UK bank, Standard Chartered, operates mainly in Asia and Africa.

There are a number of banking companies that are owned by retail groups, for example:

Post Office Money, the trade name used by Post Office Ltd for its financial branded products, most of which are provided by the Bank of Ireland
Sainsbury’s Bank, owned by the British supermarket company Sainsbury’s.
Tesco Bank, owned by the British supermarket chain Tesco.

Banking Hours

The UK banks are usually open Monday to Friday from 9:00-9:30 a.m. until 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. (some branches remain open until 5:30 p.m.). 

Many bank branches in big cities or shopping malls stay open late once per week (until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m.), and on Saturdays (9:00-9:30 a.m. until 12:30 or 3:30 p.m.).

Currency

The official currency of Great Britain is the British pound, known as the pound (£, GBP). The British currency includes pounds and pennies in the form of coins and banknotes. There are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £ 1 and £ 2 coins in circulation. The circulation of banknotes is £ 5, £ 10, £ 20 and £ 50.

Currency Exchange in the UK

Exchanging your money in the UK can be quite expensive. Different fees can be applied depending on the payment method you use, and the place where you change your money.

Here are some options that can help you exchange your local currency in the UK:

  • Go to a bank branch or building society where you can exchange cash or withdraw funds from your credit or debit card
  • Visit the Post Office: Post offices can also offer currency exchange services
  • Find a currency exchange office
  • Use an ATM to withdraw GBP from your banking card.

Banks' Branches and ATMs in the UK

Trying to find a bank branch or ATM in the UK?
Choose your bank from the list below, click on the title and get the full list of branches/ATMs with addresses, contacts and opening hours.