Should you get a Mobile-Only Bank Account When you Move to the UK?

Should you get a Mobile-Only Bank Account When you Move to the UK to do Your Placement/Internship?

And Which One?

Whether you are a student moving in the UK to attend University or to do an internship, you will probably need to open a UK bank account.

If you use your account from home, you will almost definitely end up in paying a lot of charges for using your card abroad. Getting cash, transferring money to UK accounts, and maybe even just making a payment at a shop might all cost some money. This of course is not ideal.

Life as an overseas intern in the UK is much easier when you have a bank account in the country you’re living in and you’re able to view your funds in the currency you’re spending. You could get an account with a UK bank but that is usually associated with a lot of paperwork like a proof of address etc. It can take several visits to the bank. Who has time for that? But don’t worry, thanks to new mobile banking apps, getting a UK bank account is now super easy, fast and convenient!

Mobile-only banks are a totally new approach to banking in the UK. They allow you to see real-time transactions as they happen, make it easy to split bills with friends and enable you to use cards overseas with no fees. They can even help you with budgeting, by breaking down your expenses and showing you how much you’re spending on utilities, shopping and food.

Opening a bank account with a mobile-only bank is quick and straightforward.There is no need to spend hours in a bank branch waiting for your turn or to worry about providing a proof of address. You can start your new life as a placement intern in the UK straight away!

There are different mobile-banks operating in the UK and you will find an overview below. But let’s talk about the basic steps to open a bank account first. To sign up and get a card, you will just need to follow these simple steps:

  • Dowload the app
  • Verify your identity by sending a picture of your ID along with a video or a picture of yourself holding that ID
  • Add an address in the UK where they can send your new debit card (like a friend’s house, your work or a temporary address)
  • Once you’ve signed up your contactless debit card should arrive in a few days!

At the moment these are the most popular mobile-only banks in the UK:


Monzo was founded in 2016. It started as a prepaid MasterCard that could be top up via its app. Today, Monzo is a fully-fledged bank, member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and has become one of the leading brands. When you open an account with Monzo, you will receive a bright coral coloured MasterCard debit card. Additionally, you will use the Monzo app, which you can use for payments, check balances, budgeting and much more!

Choose it if: You have an outgoing personality and you want to enjoy going out with friends without thinking about money! Monzo has great tools to immediately pay back friends and split the bill.


In 2014 Anne Bode founded Starling with the aim of creating an innovative bank service and use a different approach than old-school banking. Starling Bank received its banking licence in 2016 and at the moment it is among the best-known new brands. You’ll be able to choose among a personal, a business and a euro account via the app and get an instant contactless debit MasterCard.

Choose it if: You love keeping track of your money! Starling has great budgeting tools that will help you in be more aware of your spending habits.


Revolut was founded in July 2015. From the beginning, Revolut’s aim has been to “build a fair and frictionless platform to use and manage money around the world”. It aspires to be a banking alternative for people and businesses in many different countries. Revolut has seen an impressive growth in user numbers over the last years. At present it is one of the most well-known mobile-only banks.

Choose it if: You are a traveller! Revolut enables you to instantly exchange any of the available 29 currencies and have different bank accounts. This makes it perfect for you if you move between different countries and want to have the comfort of easily managing your spending in just on App!


N26 was among the first mobile-only banks. It was founded in 2013 in Berlin. Initially launched in Europe, it arrived in the UK in late 2018. In July 2019, N26 is also available for customers residing in the US and it is expected to start operating in Brazil soon. N26 provides a free basic current account and a Debit MasterCard card to all its customers, as well as a Maestro card for their customers in certain markets.

Choose it if: You are not sure for how long you will stay in the UK and which one will be your next destination!


To have an overview over what options you have, look at the table below to compare the main features.

We hope that this article will help you to choose a Mobile Banking App that fits your needs. Of course, you can always choose to open an account with a traditional bank. We recommend weighing up the advantages and disadvantages. In many cases, going with a mobile-only bank might be easier and better suited to the needs of a modern international undergraduate or graduate doing an internship in the UK!