Let me tell you about getting a bank in the UK!
When I was 16, I got my first job as an office cleaner. In order to be paid, I needed a bank account. I went to Lloyd’s Bank and I got set up with a child’s account. I do not remember it being difficult but I think I had to bring some paperwork with me.
Just before I moved away for university, I wanted an account with HSBC. This was because HSBC had the best student account offer: a four year rail discount card. My local branch gave me a hard time, something about proving my income (which I couldn’t do because you cannot sign for your student loan until you are registered at university) and my residence (which I couldn’t do because I did not live there yet).
As soon as I was at university, it was very easy. I just signed something in the Student Union and BINGO: bank account.
As an adult, I wanted to move bank account because HSBC were being a bit unethical or something. I looked into it a few times. It would have been very easy. I could have done most of it online, just signed a few papers and made sure all my automatic payments were with the right bank. I hear it is very hard to get a bank account as an adult without a bank account, for example you are foreign. You have to prove your residence with three separate letters (for example: bills) and go to great lengths to prove you are who you say you are.
When I moved to Denmark, I was told by my foreign colleague that only one bank allowed him to be a customer. Apparently, some banks were all “foreign, eh?” and didn’t want his custom. I went to Danske Bank and got signed up. It was actually quite easy. All I had to do was tell them my “cpr” number (Identity card number) and because everything is on the same database, they set me up. They also sent me lots of stuff which the options were already ticked and needed me to sign. Half the stuff they sent me was in Danish and half was in English. As if they wanted to make the effort but could not be bothered to do it more than half arsedly.
They did not give me a Dankort, so I had to withdraw cash every time I wanted to use a supermarket because they did not take credit cards at the time. (They do now, for a “small extra fee”)
Getting a Dankort was a trial by fire. I needed an interview which they conducted by telephone, so they called me at a specific time “Have you got a job?” “Yes.” “Ok, so we will be sending you a Dankort immediately.” Only to find out, they were sending me a card that could only be used in Danish shops. Not usable outside of Denmark at all. What? I got a Visa Dankort and it has been okay, I guess.
Then they did this thing where they stopped having tills in more than a hundred branches, including my local branch. And they have started a new thing where they charge money on a sliding rate, depending on how much “business” you have with them (so savings count the same as debts). And I do not have that much in savings and I have nothing in debt. So, it does not make financial sense to stay with them.
My boyfriend was sick of the low interest rates so he shopped around and we changed bank. For this, we needed AN INTERVIEW. Now, my bank is pretty groovy and has a coffee bar (in which, they boast, is the best coffee in town), and a major social media presence. You get your own bank manager and you see him or her exclusively. So, I guess an interview follows. But what the what? Surely the print out of my last six months of accounts and my passport suffice. Though, I had the impression it was less a screening exercise and more a way of seeing which financial products we were in the market for. I took my boyfriend with me because I have never done any financial Danish but it was actually fine. There was a bit where she made a joke about driving on the left hand side that went over my head but then I was massively tuned into financial Danish, so no shock.
The transfer has been going ok, so far. I have had to make sure the right money is in the right account at the right time but nothing tragic or irritating has happened.
If you are with Danske Bank, I would recommend getting your money out of there because what they are doing does not make good business sense and the only way they will see that is if the Market (you), informs them. But as to where you can go, I do not know. My new bank’s phone line is bilingual, so maybe they do value foreign custom.
Maybe try all the banks and put your experiences in the comments?