The 5 Best Banks in the UK in 2022

Learn about the best banks in the UK.


    Banks have been around a long time in the United Kingdom.

    The Bank of England launched in 1694 when King William III asked a friend to underwrite a war with France; for years, the system depended on the "character and integrity" of the men who issued banknotes.

    You might expect the whole system to remain a little…old-fashioned.

    But the UK banking system has come a long way.

    Today, besides long-standing institutions, many consumers use banking apps like Monzo and Monese.

    The UK Banking System

    The UK has the biggest banking system in Europe, and the fourth largest in the world, with more than 45 building societies (a financial institution owned by its members as a mutual organization) and 300 banks.

    There are three branches of the banking system in the UK:

    • High Street banks are commercial banks that offer financial services to the general public. 
    • High Street banks offer business banking services, as well as personal accounts. The business accounts usually include additional services and fees.
    • Investment banking services are generally offered by financial institutions on behalf of High Street banks, pension funds, and investment trusts. They invest in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

    Small and mid-size business owners are rapidly adopting online payment services like Statrys, which combines traditional customer service with digital ease, speed, and precision.

    YouGov, the global internet polling company, did a survey on the five most popular banks in the UK.

    As you might expect, the top five had some old, some new, all well-respected.

    The Nationwide Building Society

    The Nationwide Building Society is headquartered in Swindon, England.

    The largest building society in the world can trace its roots all the way back to 1846, but it has not remained stuck in the past.

    It has over 15 million members and is the largest building society in the world.

    Its size is the result of over one hundred mergers.

    Its assets total over $208.9 billion and it employs over 18000 people.

    Top advantages:

    • Only 4% negative thoughts
    • Baby Boomers love it the most
    • Ranked number one by both women and men

    The stability and size of Nationwide certainly help its reputation.

    So does its commitment to remaining an institution owned by its members, not shareholders.

    It offers a wide array of services in both traditional banking and new, with accounts, mortgages, and loans, and credit cards. 

    A great fact about Nationwide: in 2020, it launched the Hidden Disability Sunflower Scheme.

    The program helps those with hidden disabilities with support like branch "quiet hours" and online visual guides to help customers navigate before they arrive. 


    Halifax, "the people who give you extra," certainly made a good impression in the YouGov survey.

    Respondents gave the bank a little something extra with these positives:

    • Fifth most famous!
    • Liked by all ages
    • Known for its cartoon characters like Top Cat

    Halifax is a division of the Bank of Scotland and owned by Lloyds Banking Group, another historic and venerable financial institution founded in 1853, and makes its home in West Yorkshire.

    They offer a full range of personal financial services.

    The brand's fame can be at least partially traced to its advertising campaigns, some of which starred popular cartoon characters like Top Cat and The Flintstones.

    Others had their employees singing songs about their services. 

    So there's a fun vibe added to the typical banking experience.

    The Co-operative Bank

    The Co-operative Bank is a retail and commercial bank headquartered in Manchester, which means it'll never be as popular as the top local football clubs, but it did very well in the survey:

    • Third most popular
    • Liked by Millennials and Boomers

    The Co-operative bank is now a PLC (public limited company) and employs over 3300 people.

    With the usual slate of financial services, The Co-operative also has a customer-led ethical policy.

    They're the only UK "high street" bank that offers one.

    For the last 25 years, they've been surveying their customers and creating campaigns based on their input.

    Their campaigns focus on social and economic change, and on the issues that matter most to their customers.

    Since the bank began its values and ethics polls, they've heard the opinions of more than 300,000 customers.


    Santander is a big international bank, and its got a good reputation amongst UK consumers as well:

    • Second most famous!
    • Highest popularity with Millennials

    The current form of the company can be traced back to 1857 and Queen Isabella the II, so its roots lay in Spain.

    But it has interests all over the world and most recently started retail and commercial banking in the United States, which has only expanded its reach. 

    It is owned by the Santander Group in Spain.

    It has over $57 billion in deposits and approximately 650 branches.

    It employs over 9,800 people. It offers a full range of personal financial services.

    Not bad for a company that was initially formed to help with trade between one port in Spain and the rest of Latin America!


    Barclays pulls off the difficult trick of being a historic institution yet still popular among young clients.

    They showed their strength in the YouGov poll:

    • Most famous!
    • Millennials like it more than older generations

    It's no wonder that Barclays is the most famous institution of its kind in the UK.

    The bank's history goes all the back to the time of the founding of the Bank of England.

    The original Barclays came from two "goldsmith" bankers, whose business depended on their personal reputation.

    Their name comes from one of the first partners they took on, and it's been a famous name in UK banking for over 300 years. 

    Barclays has around $99 billion in assets and employs almost 120,000 people. 

    It offers a full range of personal financial services including wealth and investment management.

    Alternatives to Traditional Banking

    These days traditional banks are facing a digitally fluent audience who would prefer a digital engagement experience with their banking needs than a traditional experience.

    In fact, banking may not even be the first approach to financial payments, money management, or savings in the future.

    Your next bank account might not actually be at a bank.

    For businesses, payment platforms like Statrys will offer business accounts without actually being a bank themselves.

    Your money isn't lent out to other customers, but rather you would pay a monthly fee to keep your account completely untouched and in return you can have more peace of mind with your money's use

    Sign up for an account with Statrys and get a business account in less than 48 hours, completely online.


    What are the branches of the UK banking system?


    What are the best banks in the UK?


    How big is the banking system in the UK?

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