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What is a currency account?

Currency accounts are a way to store, send and receive multiple currencies. They can be useful if you’re regularly making payments, or receiving money, in other currencies. So, a currency account could suit if you:

  • travel a lot
  • have a mortgage outside the UK
  • regularly earn money outside the UK
  • are planning on retiring outside the UK

But before jumping in, it’s worth getting familiar with some of the benefits and considerations.

The benefits

Cost-effective way to move money internationally

With currency accounts, the money can be moved straight from one currency to another, reducing your conversion fees. You can also use currency accounts when buying something outside the UK, so you can minimise international transaction fees.

Fast and flexible

If you have multiple currency accounts, you may be able to transfer instantly between currency accounts. 

If you track exchange rates, you can move money straight away when you feel the rates are favourable. This can also come in handy if you need to make an urgent international payment.

Secure, no matter what the currency

If your currency account is with an authorised UK bank, it will be protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme:

  • up to £85,000 per eligible person, per bank
  • up to £170,000 for joint accounts

The considerations

Are all your currencies covered?

A currency account won’t cover all currencies. When looking at providers, make sure the currencies you need are included. Keep in mind, your needs could change over time. So it may be worth looking for a provider which has a wide range of currencies available.

What are the fees and conditions?

Some currency accounts may charge monthly account fees, or payment fees when you make transfers. If you can, it may help to avoid these as they can stack up.

You may also find some currency accounts require you to keep a minimum amount in each currency, otherwise you may be charged extra fees.

Does the account meet your needs?

Currency accounts may not include all the features you’d expect from a bank account. For example, an HSBC Currency Account doesn’t come with:

  • a debit card
  • a cheque book
  • an overdraft facility
  • a linked lending facility 

Who is eligible?

There may be conditions around who can apply for a currency account. For example, if you’re opening an HSBC Currency Account, you’ll need to be:

  • applying for a sole account
  • 18 years old, or older
  • an existing HSBC customer (your HSBC account must be active and this excludes Basic Bank Account holders, as well as first direct and M&S Bank customers)

What next?

If you feel a currency account may be useful, make a list of exactly what it is you’re looking for. It could be:

  • a particular currency
  • no fees
  • the ability to transfer between currencies instantly 

Or, it could be all of the above.

Once you have that list, take a look at the different types of currency accounts to find one that will meet your needs.

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