Looking for crypto-friendly UK banks, or wondering whether your bank will close your account? Read on…

Using a UK bank account to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can be problematic: many banks have banned purchases of cryptocurrencies via Debit and Credit cards. However, there are still plenty of options still available.

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Some banks are happy to accept funds derived from crypto-related activity, however it’s important to remember that this can vary based on the type of activity you have engaged in. The majority of people we hear from, and know about, that have experienced problems have often fallen into one of the following categories:

  1. Moving large amounts of money. Obviously, this depends on your historic balance, but generally movements of 5-figure+ sums of money is going to trigger money laundering flags, regardless of whether it’s related to cryptocurrency.
  2. (Appearing to be) Running a business related to cryptocurrency. UK crypto-based companies have had to bank abroad, due to UK banks broadly being unwilling to host them. Importantly, your account may also be suspended or transactions blocked if you appear to be operating a crypto-related business: this could include multiple transactions related to LocalBitcoins, for example. This has even happened to customers of Fidor Bank, which is one of the most crypto-friendly in the UK.
  3. Day traders: If you’re day trading and are moving money in-and-out of your account frequently, your bank may require you to open a business account instead.

If you’re not doing any of these things, you should be okay.

While you should be okay using your high street bank (aside from the use cases above), we recommend avoiding high street banks altogether and using a ‘challenger’ bank, such as app-based Revolut. Revolut has the added benefit of free EUR-GBP conversions and transfers, providing an added benefit where some cryptocurrency exchanges may only support deposits and/or withdrawals in Euros.

We recommend app-based challenger bank, Revolut for your crypto purchases and beyond.


UK Banks: High Street

Key:

  • Allowed: We do not know of any major issues with making crypto-related transactions.
  • Allowed*: there may be a small number of reports stating issues with the bank, however generally we understand transactions are going through unhindered.
  • Mixed: We are aware of a number of issues making crypto-related transactions with this bank.
  • Banned: This bank has explicitly banned crypto-relayed transactions, or there are so many reported issues that they have implied a ban.

Barclays

Barclays ended their banking partnership with Coinbase in August 2019, however Brits are still able to purchase cryptocurrencies with their debit and credit cards in most cases. In terms of exchanges, we have heard of Barclays refusing deposits/withdrawals to and from some exchanges, and in a number of cases closing and/or freezing accounts.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Mixed

ClearBank

When Barclays and Coinbase ended their banking relationship, ClearBank stepped in to bank the crypto exchange. Debit and credit card purchases are generally allowed, and we haven’t heard any issues with transactions to or from exchanges.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed

Transactions to/from exchanges: Allowed

Capital One

Capital One is quite explicit in its opposition to customers using their bank accounts and cards for crypto-related activity.

Credit card purchases: Banned
Debit card purchases: Mixed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Mixed

HSBC

Despite a few localised incidents — especially those where cryptocurrencies were explicitly mentioned in transaction references — we believe HSBC is accepting almost all transactions related to retail cryptocurrency activities.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Allowed*

Lloyds Bank

Across the Lloyds Bank network (including Bank of Scotland, Halifax, MBNA), credit card transactions are banned. We have also received a number of messages detailing situations where the bank has blocked deposits to, and withdrawals from, cryptocurrency exchanges.

Credit card purchases: Banned
Debit card purchases: Mixed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Mixed

Natwest

Owned by RBS, Natwest’s position is identical to its parent.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed*
Transactions to/from exchanges: Allowed*

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)

RBS generally seems to allow crypto-related transactions, in spite of some localised reports.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed*
Transactions to/from exchanges: Allowed*

Santander

Debit and credit card purchases are generally allowed by Santander. Despite denying blocking Coinbase transactions, it appears that many customers are having issues doing so.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Mixed

TSB

Debit and credit card purchases are generally allowed by TSB.

Debit and credit card purchases: Allowed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Allowed*

Virgin Money

Virgin Money banned credit card purchases of cryptocurrencies, though debit cards should still work for most customers.

Credit card purchases: Banned
Debit card purchases: Allowed
Transactions to/from exchanges: Mixed

App-based challenger banks

As mentioned above, a number of app-based ‘challenger’ banks have appeared on the UK banking scene, and many have a more relaxed take on cryptocurrencies.

Revolut has integrated the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies directly from within its app. Users also have the added benefit of free EUR-GBP conversions and transfers, providing an added benefit where some cryptocurrency exchanges may only support deposits and/or withdrawals in Euros.

Other banks such as Monzo and N26 permit ‘sensible’ usage of crypto exchanges and buying/selling services. Starling, meanwhile, appears to block transactions to crypto sites like Coinbase.


Notes

For people looking to sell cryptocurrencies using services like LocalBitcoins: be aware that even if your bank claims to allow you to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, multiple selling transactions on such sites may flag up your account as being used for business purposes. This has been the case even with Fidor, one of the more crypto-friendly UK banks (Note: Fidor has now announced that they are ending their UK operations).

Note: Due to the emerging nature of the cryptocurrency space, banks’ positions toward digital currencies are prone to change. We recommend you bookmark this page, or sign up to our mailing list to receive major updates.

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