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The Most Crypto-Friendly Banks in the UK: A Comparison

What are the most crypto-friendly banks in the UK? If you are a crypto bro or sis, here is an exhaustive comparison.
crypto-friendly banks UK

Wondering which banks in the UK will be best for a crypto bro or sis? Here is the ultimate comparison of crypto-friendly banks in the UK (and the other ones!) in our opinion.

Why do people want a list of crypto-friendly banks?

People who have had their bank accounts flagged due to crypto-related transactions already grasp the importance of finding a list of crypto-friendly banks. So we have rung around all of the banks to find out what the exact story is when it comes to crypto and banking. If you are choosing a crypto friendly bank, then read on!

What is a crypto-friendly bank?

In the early days of cryptocurrency, many UK investors faced account closures and frozen funds simply because they used their bank accounts for crypto-related transactions. Hopefully those days are past us.

Over the years, the relationship between banks and the crypto industry has improved. While challenges remain, it’s essential to know which banks are more accommodating to crypto investors and traders.

In this article, we’ll provide an updated list of crypto-friendly banks in the UK. But before we dive into that, let’s make sure we all know what we mean by “crypto friendly”.

Crypto-friendly banks: What does this mean?

As the name suggests, crypto-friendly banks are financial institutions that allow customers to freely withdraw and deposit funds from their accounts to cryptocurrency-related platforms.

If you’re considering crypto investments, here’s what a crypto-friendly bank should offer.

Credit and debit card usage

A crypto-friendly bank should allow you to use the credit and debit cards they issue for buying and selling cryptocurrencies.

This flexibility ensures that you can seamlessly transact with crypto using your existing banking cards.

Cash transfers to crypto exchanges

You should be able to complete cash transfers from your bank account to cryptocurrency exchanges and DeFi platforms.

This feature enables you to fund your crypto investments directly from your bank account.

While some banks block transfers completely, some have limits to the amount you can transfer. Some limits are in line with general limits on buying other services and items, while other banks have particularly strict limits on transferring funds to crypto exchanges. But they allow their customers larger limits on transferring money to other services, like stock market purchases etc.

Cash-out capability

When it’s time to realise your investment gains, a crypto-friendly bank should allow you to cash out funds from your cryptocurrency investments.

This ensures liquidity and ease of access to your investment gains.

Now that we understand how crypto-friendly banks operate, let’s explore a list of banks that cater to UK investors.

Methods worth trying within the remit of the bank policies

If you spend any time on online forums, you may see that despite bank policies, some crypto enthusiasts say that they transfer money to crypto exchanges all the time without limits. This goes against what the bank says publicly about what its policy is. So it may be a case of the bank having rules, but not a lot of rule enforcement going on.

For example, some people say that there are user-friendly methods to circumvent restrictive bank policies (this is not a way to break the law, this is a way to work around bank policies that you might not agree with.)

One way to get around some bank restrictions (because in theory, if you aren’t breaking any laws and it is your money, why should you have to stick to bank rules?) is to have several accounts and use a secondary account to carry out fiat transfers to exchanges. Here’s how it works. *

Step 1: Create a main bank account (Bank A):

This is your primary account where you receive your salary, manage daily expenses, and handle other financial transactions. It’s the account from which your income sources (like salaries, pensions, bonuses) can be clearly identified.

Step 2: Create a secondary account in a different bank (Bank B):

Set up a separate account (Bank B) that acts as a “proxy.” When you want to buy cryptocurrency, transfer money from your main account (Bank A) to this secondary account (Bank B). Treat this transfer as a standard bank-to-bank transaction. Bank A doesn’t need to know what you’ll do with the money in Bank B.

Step 3: Move money to crypto platforms

Use Bank B to fund your crypto investments. Since it’s a personal account, no bank should block transfers between your own accounts for personal spending or investments.

If Bank A ever asks about the source of your gains, you can provide bank statements from both Bank A and Bank B. These statements demonstrate legitimate sources of funds.

In summary, you’ll have two bank accounts (Bank A and Bank B) and a separate crypto platform for managing your cryptocurrency holdings. You maintain transparency by having proper documentation if needed.

This method is not guaranteed, however it is what people in crypto forums suggest can be used to transfer money to crypto exchanges without being bothered by a bank telling you how to spend your money, if you aren’t breaking any laws.

Which traditional banks in the UK are crypto-friendly?

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank has no official crypto policy on their website. However as the second-biggest bank in the UK, they hold a bit of sway. And there is good news here. We contacted them and they confirmed that their customers can usually deposit funds to FCA-approved crypto exchanges.

They said to us that the only limits that apply are the standard limits on any payment per customer per day. That is £50k via online banking, £2k via the app. The app limit bumps up to £10k once the payee is verified.

While there may be some bumps in the road until they know you, Barclays takes our number one spot as the most crypto-friendly bank.

Coutts

The only reason this bank isn’t number one is that it doesn't give access to everyone. As the bank of the UK Royals, you have to have at least £1m to even open a bank account with them.

However, if you are lucky enough to have full bags, then this is the bank you want to be with.

Coutts told CoinJar that there are no limits when it comes to transferring funds to crypto exchanges. They may, however, review the payment if they were concerned about the transfer, and potentially approve, reject, or request further information for your security. Other than protecting your safety, they have no hard limit.

If you are a high roller then this is the good option for moving around really large amounts of money, once you are approved.

Nationwide

Nationwide seems to also be a crypto-friendly traditional bank to be with if you are a crypto bro or sis. While they won’t facilitate any payments to Binance, outside of that, it seems good to go, with limits.

Loosely speaking, depending on what kind of account you have at the bank, you can transfer up to £5k a day using your Nationwide account.

Interestingly, Nationwide says on their website that their customers “can spend up to £5,000 a day for transfers made to purchase cryptocurrency.” However, they also say that “if you have more than one Nationwide current account, this limit will apply to each of your accounts.” So if you have three accounts, then it seems £15,000 per day is the limit.

Even with the limits, this is still one of the most crypto-friendly banks.

HSBC, First Direct

HSBC has 42 million UK customers.

First Direct bank is owned by HSBC and “only” has 1.5 million customers. Both have the same crypto policy.

They do have limits on transfers to crypto platforms.

According to their policy, if you are using a debit card or digital banking services, or go through their customer contact centre, limits are £2,500 for a single payment.

There is a total limit of £10,000 in any rolling 30-day period. This is applied per customer, not per bank account.

You cannot buy crypto with a First Direct credit card.

Natwest (Also own Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank)

Natwest aren’t very crypto-friendly but they do offer the bare minimum, which is great if you just want to play around with crypto for fun and are not a serious trader.

The banks says that they place limits on online banking transfers and Faster Payments (service) they identify as going to cryptocurrency exchanges. The limits are “£1k a day and £5k in any 30-day period.”

They also say that the limits are “per person not per account.” So if you have 5 accounts, you don’t get 5 chances.

They don’t allow credit and charge cards to purchase cryptocurrency at all.

So if you are just starting out, Natwest customers can download the CoinJar app and happily learn to buy crypto, until they are ready to move to the CoinJar exchange for more serious trading.

At this later stage, you might need to change banks to facilitate your investment goals on the CoinJar Exchange.

The same rules seem to apply for their other banks.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is an okay bank to be with for crypto purposes. The reason it is only okay is that it imposes limits on deposits to exchanges. And sometimes it even blocks payments.

Daily limits are £1,000 per day, £5,000 per month. That’s if you can get them through.

There’s more info here.

In summary, the Natwest Group has a cautious approach to crypto. And it is the kind of approach that doesn’t go down well on platforms like Reddit.

If you just want to dabble with crypto, then Natwest or RBS is absolutely fine. But if you are more serious about trading, then Natwest or RBS are not going to suit your needs.

Ulster bank has the same policy. So, they probably won’t suit your needs either.

Santander

Santander has the highest number of customers of any bank in the UK. So it is worthwhile finding out what their crypto policy is.

Unfortunately, it’s not great.

Santander does put rather strict limits on cryptocurrency payments. Currently customers of Santander will be limited to £1,000 per transaction. And you can only do 3 of these a month, or to put it another way, customers of Santander can only transfer a total of “£3,000 in any rolling 30-day period”.

So, not so crypto-friendly. It’s okay perhaps for newbies who want to upload small amounts to a crypto platform like CoinJar to learn, but for serious traders, pfffft.

Lloyds (also owns Halifax and Bank of Scotland)

Lloyds Bank and their banking group remains a mystery. There is no crypto policy online, we could not contact them in any way, they don’t seem to have any type of customer service phone line that gets answered. They don’t respond to any other type of contact except to tell us to download their app and open an account. It is only then, it seems, that we can ask about their crypto policy.

So if you already have an account with them, a method to discover their crypto policy is to try to deposit money with CoinJar and see if the transaction goes through!

However we would not suggest joining this bank for the purposes of crypto, as information is too difficult to come by.

TSB

While TSB used to facilitate transfers of fiat to crypto exchanges, this was recently rescinded. TSB says on their website, “We don’t currently allow payments for cryptocurrency. Our telephone advisors will be unable to override these restrictions, so please don’t call us to ask how you can transfer money to buy cryptocurrency.”

TSB have said that crypto-fraud has risen sharply, with Kraken and Binance being particularly problematic.

However the bank doesn't seem to have made the distinction between FCA-registered platforms and other crypto exchanges operating in the UK. They have just blanket-banned them all.

So if you are with TSB and you want to buy and sell crypto, then TSB is not the bank for you.

The Co-operative Bank, Britannia, Smile

This banking group had no information on their website, and they were also hard to reach in any meaningful way. But we managed to get hold of them finally, and learned that they are probably one of the strictest banks in the UK.

They told CoinJar that a system algorithm checks the payments and most do not go through to crypto exchanges, and that most exchanges are blacklisted.

So if you want to have any sort of interaction with crypto exchanges, then it might be a good idea to open an account with a more crypto-friendly bank.

For business banking: BCB Group

BCB Group bridges the gap between traditional banking and the crypto economy.

Their services include payment processing, cryptocurrency trading, and crypto custody. They aim to offer institutions the ability to navigate the digital asset landscape. So for this reason, they are super crypto-friendly.

Retail banking is not offered. So unless you have a business account, you’ll have to sit this one out. But if you do have a business and want to get in and out of crypto, BCB are amongst the crypto-friendly banks.

BCB do have withdrawal limits, frequency limits, and transaction size limits, which they say is to protect clients. So you will have to contact them about limits that may apply to you if you have a business, as it seems that it might be different per business/institution.

Challenger banks

In the UK, a challenger bank refers to a relatively new and innovative type of financial institution that aims to disrupt the traditional banking landscape. These banks typically operate digitally, offering services through mobile apps and online platforms.

Digital-first approach

Challenger banks prioritise digital channels, often having no physical branches. They rely on technology for most of their operations.

These banks focus on agility, aiming to address pain points faced by customers in traditional banking, such as lengthy processes, uncompetitive fees, and limited accessibility. That’s what they say, anyway.

Some challenger banks are more open to cryptocurrencies than traditional banks. But some can be more strict with crypto than normal banks.

For example, Revolut is a challenger bank known for its crypto-friendly features. Users can buy, sell, and store various digital assets via the mobile app. However the uncompetitive fees are rather unfriendly in some people’s opinions.

Starling Bank, while being a challenger bank, has taken a strict stance against crypto-related payments. It has banned customers from engaging in any crypto-related transactions, considering crypto activity to be high risk. So while it is a challenger bank, we aren’t sure what exactly it is challenging if its users can’t play with crypto. It is up there with the most-cryptic-unfriendly banks.

Monzo

Of the challenger banks, Monzo seems to be very crypto-friendly.

Monzo says they are crypto friendly and their customers can use a range of crypto exchanges. “Like all regulated banks, from time to time we may block a small number of transactions based on risk. This applies to all transactions, not just ones involving cryptocurrencies.”

They do however say that after an FCA warning, they have stopped transfers to Binance for now. “This is the only exchange we’ve stopped all payments to.”

Monzo is the clear winner for us overall.

Revolut

Revolut in the UK is considered a challenger bank. You can buy a limited number of cryptocurrencies in the Revolut app once you have it set up.

However, Revolut’s main strength is not as a crypto app. Its main strength is an international payment app between fiat currencies. This is because Revolut does get some criticism regarding crypto fees.

If you trade crypto often, you will probably find it more cost-effective to use a platform with competitive trading fees geared towards frequent traders.

Compared to cryptocurrency exchanges, Revolut offers a limited selection of cryptocurrencies for buying and selling and Revolut lacks some features that experienced crypto traders might find important.

But if you are a beginner and want to try to buy crypto for the first time, then Revolut might be a good starting point.

After you get more comfortable, you can move your crypto out of Revolut UK to another crypto exchange. (That isn’t every country though. At the time of writing, April 2024, in Australia for example, you can’t transfer your crypto out of your Revolut account. You have to sell it via Revolut).

There are also limits on crypto withdrawals at Revolut. You can also see your current withdrawal limits by following these steps inside the app: 'Crypto' → 'More' → 'Settings' → 'Limits'.

Conclusion: Most crypto-friendly bank in the UK

So there you have it. In CoinJar’s opinion, if you want to stay with a traditional bank, Barclays, Coutts and Nationwide are good options in our opinion. And if you want to go with a challenger bank, Monzo is a clear winner.

crypto-friendly banks UK, buy bitcoin

Frequently asked questions

What is a crypto-friendly bank?

A crypto-friendly bank is any of the financial platforms around the world that actively embraces digital currencies and integrates them into its services.

These banks offer a comprehensive suite of financial services, including crypto trading, asset management, and crypto transactions. They could even do lending, borrowing and asset management. However due to local laws in the UK, services may be limited for UK customers.

Which UK banks offer crypto services?

Some UK challenger banks now offer crypto as part of their investment options. These “neo-banks” recognise the growing interest in digital assets and cater to both individuals and businesses seeking exposure to the crypto markets.

What investment options could be accessed theoretically by customers of crypto banks around the world?

Crypto-friendly banks go beyond traditional investments. They provide a range of investment options, including crypto funds, allowing clients to diversify their portfolios with digital assets.

How do these banks integrate with crypto exchanges and wallets?

These banks facilitate integration with popular crypto exchanges and wallets, making it convenient for users to manage their holdings. For example, you could link your bank account directly to your crypto wallet.

Can I get a crypto-backed loan from these banks?

Some crypto-friendly banks offer features like crypto-backed loans. You can use your crypto assets as collateral to secure a loan, providing liquidity without selling your holdings. This is a service that may not be available in the UK however, due to local regulations.

Do these banks support lending and borrowing in crypto?

They recognise the demand for decentralized finance (DeFi) services. You can lend your crypto assets to earn interest or borrow against them.

What about asset management?

These banks provide asset management services for crypto portfolios. Whether you’re a seasoned trader or a beginner, they offer tailored solutions to help you grow your crypto wealth.

Are crypto transactions protected with these banks?

Yes, protection is a priority. These banks are expected to implement robust protocols to safeguard your crypto assets during transactions.

Which crypto assets can I trade through these banks?

You’ll find a variety of options, for example in Revolut, customers can buy Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), and more.

What makes banks crypto-friendly?

A commitment to providing a comprehensive suite of financial services that transfers funds to crypto exchanges that enable crypto trading, buying of crypto assets, and innovative features like crypto-backed loans. As the crypto landscape evolves, banks will hopefully continue to adapt and support their clients’ digital financial needs.

The above article is not to be read as investment, legal or tax advice and it takes no account of particular personal or market circumstances; all readers should seek independent investment advice before investing in cryptocurrencies. The article is provi

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