Barclays Bank (UK) Review | Bobatoo

Barclays Bank Review

A wide range of current accounts

Good choice for children's banking

Excellent smartphone app

Barclays bank logo
Barclays bank logo

Who is Barclays?

Barclays is a multinational investment bank and financial services provider based in the UK. It has over 24 million customers and clients in the UK, stretching across their personal banking, corporate banking and wealth and investment management products. Barclays is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Its range of services makes it a viable option for anybody, whether you’re looking to set up a children’s current account or take out a mortgage.

Current accounts

A current account is an account in which you can store money and withdraw it at any time, without notice. It’ll usually be the one you use the most, so it is important that you get the best current account for your needs.

Barclays offers a wide range of current accounts, all falling into 4 different categories:

  • Everyday banking
  • Student accounts
  • Young people
  • Currency accounts

Everyday banking

There are 3 current accounts which fall under Barclays’ ‘everyday banking’ category: Barclays Bank Account, Premier Current Account and Barclays Basic Current Account.

Barclays Bank Account

  • No minimum earnings
  • Customisable, contactless debit card
  • Access to award-winning mobile and online banking
  • Up to £5,000 overdraft
  • Cashback from specific retailers
  • Access to Barclays Blue
  • Rewards
  • £300 cash withdrawal limit per day

Premier Current Account

  • Minimum income of £75,000 or £100,000 in savings
  • Exclusive black debit card
  • Access to award-winning mobile and online banking
  • Fee-free overdraft of up to £1,000
  • No fees on transferring money abroad using online or mobile banking
  • Exclusive rates on other Barclays products
  • Access to Barclays Blue and Premier Rewards
  • £1,000 cash withdrawal limit per day

Barclays Basic Current Account

  • No minimum earnings
  • Visa debit or cash card
  • Access to award-winning mobile and online banking
  • No overdraft
  • Can pay using Direct Debit or standing orders
  • Regular statements and text alerts
  • £300 per day cash withdrawal limit
  • No access to Barclays Blue Rewards
  • Can't load card onto e-wallet apps
  • No cheque book

Barclays bank account

A Barclays bank account is perfect for everyday banking. You get your own, customisable contactless debit card, access to Barclays online and mobile banking, an overdraft of up to £5,000 and cashback from specific retailers. You are restricted to withdrawing up to £300 per day from a cash machine.

For a fee of £3 per month, you can sign up to Barclays Blue Rewards which will also provide you with up to £7 per month reward for having Direct Debits, up to £9 per month cash rewards on selected products and extra cashback from Barclays’ partner retailers.

Read more about Barclays Blue Rewards here.

Premier current account

In order to qualify for a premier current account, you must have a minimum gross income of £75,000 or at least £100,000 in savings with Barclays.

A premier current account provides you with an exclusive black debit card, which allows you to take out up to £1,000 a day from cash machines. You also have access to a fee-free overdraft of up to £1,000 and won’t be charged a penny on any money sent outside of the UK online or by mobile.

You also gain access to exclusive rates for mortgages, savings accounts and loans as well as Barclays Premier Rewards – read more about Barclays Premier Rewards here.

Barclays basic current account

If this is your first UK account, or you are finding it difficult to manage your finances, a Barclays basic current account could be right for you.

A Barclays basic current account provides you with a Visa debit or cash card as well as access to Barclays online and mobile banking.

There is no overdraft option to help you control your spending, but you are still able to set up Direct Debit and standing order payments. You will receive regular statements as well as free text message alerts to help you keep an eye on your account and how much money you have in it.

You are limited to £300 per day cash withdrawals – as long as the money is in your account – and are entitled to cashback from partner retailers. You do not get a cheque book and do not have access to Barclays Blue Rewards or e-wallet apps such as Apple Pay.

Barclays student accounts

Depending on what stage of education you are at, you might be eligible for a Barclays student account.

The best student bank account is the one that suits you and your needs. Barclays has 3 different current accounts tailored to students in various stages of their study, from your very first day to life after graduation.

Student Additions Account

You must:

  • Be 18+
  • Be a UK resident for 3 years
  • Be studying towards undergraduate or postgraduate degree
  • Make Barclays your main account

  • £500 fee-free overdraft, rising to £3,000
  • Access to award-winning mobile and online banking
  • Cashback from registered retailers
  • Free customisation of debit card
  • Can load account onto e-wallets
  • Addition extras such as gadget or travel insurance

Student Additions Account (International)

You must:

  • Be 18+
  • Live in the UK
  • Be studying towards an undergraduate or postgraduate degree
  • Make Barclays your main account

  • No overdraft
  • Access to award-winning mobile and online banking
  • Cashback from registered retailers
  • Free custom debit card
  • Can load account onto e-wallets
  • Additional extras like gadget or travel insurance

Higher Education Account

You must:

  • Be 18+
  • Live in the UK
  • Have completed full-time higher education in the UK in the last 3 years

  • £3,000 fee-free overdraft, decreasing to £1,000 over 3 years
  • Access to award-winning mobile and online banking
  • Cashback from registered retailers
  • Contactless debit card
  • Can load account onto e-wallets
  • Additional extras such as gadget or travel insurance
  • Access to Barclays Blue Rewards

Student additions account

A Barclays student additions account is available to anybody aged 18 or over who has lived in the UK for at least 3 years and is studying towards an undergraduate qualification for at least 2 academic years - it is also available to post-graduate students studying for at least 1 academic year.

You must also make Barclays your main bank account to qualify.

A Student additions account gives you the ability to apply for a £500 fee-free overdraft from the day you apply, with that fee-free overdraft increasing to £3,000 throughout your studies.

You also have access to Barclays online and mobile banking, as well as cashback with registered retailers both online and offline.

You are able to customise your contactless debit card free of charge and load it onto e-wallet apps such as Apple Pay, so you can pay using your phone, tablet or smartwatch.

You can also choose to take out insurance on travel, your phone, laptop and other gadgets as well as European breakdown cover with the RAC for an additional fee – add more than one insurance pack and you’ll receive a discount!

Student additions account (International)

An international student additions account is perfect for students from around the world who have chosen to study in the UK.

It offers most of the same benefits of a student additions account, but without the need of having a long-term UK address history.

Unlike some other banks, there is no monthly fee to set up an international student account.

International students are not entitled to an overdraft.

Higher education account

If you have banked with Barclays throughout your time at university, then you will automatically be moved to a higher education account once you have completed your studies. The account is available for 3 years after graduation.

In your first year after graduating, you will have access to a £3,000 fee-free overdraft, but this will steadily decrease over the next 3 years – after those 3 years, your money will be moved to another current account.

You will have a contactless debit card and access to Barclays Blue Rewards.

You will still have access to online and mobile banking and cashback from selected retailers and will still be able to utilise additional paid extras such as travel and gadget insurance.

Accounts for young people

Barclays’ accounts for young people category covers accounts set up with children as young as 11 in mind.

Children's Bank Account

  • Aimed at 11 to 16-year-olds
  • Minimum £1 to open
  • Earn interest from 0.60%
  • Check balance with the Barclays app
  • Choose between a cash card or contactless debit card
  • Withdraw up to £50 per day on a cash card, £300 per day on a debit card

Young Person's Bank Account

  • Aimed at 16 to 19-year-olds
  • Upload personal documents and statements
  • Start saving with a savings account or ISA
  • Check balance and send money with the Barclays app
  • Personalise your contactless debit card
  • Withdraw up to £300 per day at cash machines

Children’s bank account – BarclayPlus

A BarclayPlus account is perfect for children aged 11 to 15, with easy access to money and interest rates to encourage saving.

You can open a BarclayPlus account with as little as £1, but you will need to confirm your identity with one of the following:

  • Your own passport or birth certificate
  • A European National Identity Card

You will also need to confirm where you live by providing Barclays with one of the following:

  • A parent or guardian’s household bill
  • A parent or guardian’s bank statement that is less than 3 months old

With a BarclayPlus account, you can choose either a cash card or a customisable contactless debit card, both of which can be used to withdraw cash from any cash machine.

You can also use Barclays online and the mobile banking app to check your balance and earn interest on your money, starting at 0.60%.

Young person’s bank account

A young person’s bank account is one step closer to adult banking, designed for 16 to 19-year-olds.

With a young person’s bank account you can withdraw up to £300 per day with your own, personalised debit card and use the Barclays mobile banking app to send money and view your balance and transaction history.

You can also begin saving towards your future by applying for one of Barclays’ savings accounts or ISAs.

Spending abroad with Barclays

When you use your Barclays debit card abroad, you will be charged a 2.75% non-sterling transaction fee on all transactions.

This fee applies to any cash withdrawals in a foreign country, debit card payments and refunds and any online purchases bought on a non-UK website.

As well as this, you will be charged an additional £1.50 if withdrawing cash from an ATM that is not owned by Barclays or another member of the Global ATM Alliance.

Currency accounts

Barclays’ currency account allows you to send and receive money around the world.

Foreign currency account

  • Must hold a British sterling account to be eligible
  • Reduced exchange rate risk
  • Transfer money from your sterling account for free
  • Receive regular statements
  • Get cash from the account delivered on the next working day
  • No debit card or cash machine withdrawals

A Barclays foreign currency account can be opened in up to 12 different currencies, including euros, US Dollars and South African Rand.

You will need to hold a British current account to be able to open a foreign currency account.

By holding a foreign currency account, you reduce the risk of losing money due to exchange rates and you are able to transfer money to and from your sterling account at no extra cost.

You will also receive regular statements – the frequency of which can be changed at any time – and can receive cash from your account on the next working day as long as it is ordered before 1pm.

Foreign currency accounts do not come with a debit card and money cannot be taken out at a cash machine.

Switching to Barclays - The Current Account Switch Service

Switching to Barclays, if you wish to do so, is easy thanks to The Current Account Switch Service. This is a service which helps you to switch bank accounts by transferring all of your funds, Direct Debits and other bills over to your new account, closing your old one in the process.

Barclays savings accounts

Everyday Saver

  • Interest rate (gross per year): 0.25% (£1 - £49,999) or 0.30% (£50,000 - £10 million)
  • Instant access

Children's Instant Saver

  • Saver for children under 16
  • Interest rate (gross per year): 1.85%
  • Instant access

Children's Regular Saver

  • Saver for children under 18
  • 1.50% (for months when money is withdrawn) or 3.45% (for months when no money is withdrawn)
  • Instant access

Barclays offer 3 different savings accounts; one for adults and two for children.

The everyday saver is aimed at adults, and offers up to 0.30% interest per year depending on the amount of money you have saved. You can withdraw money from the account at any time and there is an option to have an ATM card connected to the account.

The children’s instant saver offers 1.85% interest annually and is designed for children under the age of 16.

The children’s regular saver offers either 1.50% or 3.45%, depending on whether money is withdrawn from the account in a given month.

Barclays ISA - Cash ISAs*

Instant Cash ISA with £1 - £29,999
  • Interest (per year gross): 0.60%
  • Unlimited withdrawals
Instant Cash ISA with £30,000 - £99,999
  • Interest (per year gross): 0.65%
  • Unimited withdrawals
Instant Cash ISA with £100,000+
  • Interest (per year gross): 0.75%
  • Unlimited withdrawals
1 Year Flexible Cash ISA
  • Interest (per year gross): 1.0%
  • 3 withdrawals per year - up to 10% of balance

*Rates as of June 2019

Barclays offer 3 standard cash ISAs; an instant cash ISA offers varied interest rates depending on your balance. You can take money out from this account whenever you like.

A 1 year flexible Cash ISA offers 1.0% interest on balances up to £1 million. You can only make 3 withdrawals from this account every year, all of which can only be up to 10% of your balance.

Barclays used to provide a help to buy ISA for first-time buyers, but as of November 2019, it is no longer available. However, speak to your bank to see if they are still able to help you save towards your first home.

Online banking - customer experience

Pros

  • Locate your nearest branch
  • Informative guides and blogs
  • Manage your accounts

Cons

  • Poorly-managed chat feature
  • Slow loading times and errors

As with most modern banks, a lot of Barclays’ customers use online banking for their day-to-day financial needs.

The Barclays website provides extensive information on all of their available products, allowing you to locate your nearest branch and features a series of informative guides and blog posts to help manage your finances.

Benefits of online banking with Barclays

They also have a chat feature on their website, which can be used to contact Barclays advisors. Customers of Barclays are critical of this feature however, stating that they have received incorrect, unhelpful or contradictory advice from advisors on the chat.

When it comes to online banking, a lot of customers have expressed their disappointment at Barclays’ website, with one review on Trustpilot labelling it as the ‘most incompetent site I have ever used in my life’. A lot of other reviews discuss the issues they have faced with the website in-depth, including slow loading times and errors when requesting a new page.

Customers have also been critical of the logging-in process, which often requires what Barclays call a PinSentry reader. These can take up to 5 days to arrive and can be temperamental, meaning that logging into Barclays online banking can sometimes be unnecessarily overcomplicated.

Barclays mobile banking app

Pros

  • Excellent reviews on iOS and Android
  • Touch and Face ID enabled
  • Direct contact with an advisor
  • Overview of spending habits
  • Regularly updated
  • View current accounts from other banks

At the time of writing, we couldn't find any cons about Barclays' mobile banking app!

From almost 800,000 reviews on iOS, the Barclays mobile banking app averages an impressive 4.8/5 from customers. It has similar ratings on Android, with over 250,000 customers rating it an average of 4.5/5.

You are able to log in using face or touch ID on devices with the relevant hardware, and the app has a familiar, well laid-out home page form, where you can glance at all of your Barclays (and Barclaycard) accounts.

You are given direct access to a Barclays contact number through the app, while there is also a live chat option and a help section that features FAQs and a short tour of the application itself.

You are also able to see an overview of your own spending habits for the week, month or year. Barclays will automatically segregate your spending into categories such as shopping, transport, leisure and personal finance, allowing you to get a better look at where your money is being spent and how you can cut back.

If you have a current account with another bank, you might be able to view them from within the Barclays app. There are currently 7 of the best UK banks available for selection, with more coming in the future.

They have also started rolling out a feature which allows you to pay a cheque into your account by scanning it on the app, but this may not available to everybody in the UK as of yet.

Screenshots of Barclays' app

Barclays rewards

Barclays Blue Rewards

Barclays Blue Rewards is a rewards scheme for Barclays customers, providing exclusive cashback rates and additional cash rewards when you utilise Barclays’ products such as insurance and mortgages.

It costs an additional £4 per month and can be purchased with qualifying Barclays current accounts.

While this may seem beneficial, these rewards are paid gross – and could be subject to income tax.

Premier rewards

Barclays Premier Rewards is an extension to their Blue Rewards scheme, coming with its own smartphone app and a range of offers, discounts and free entries.

However to be eligible for Barclays Premier Rewards you need to be a Barclays Premier customer – this means that you have to have a particularly high yearly income (a minimum of £75,000 gross) or a large sum of savings (£100,000).

Customer reviews

Authorised customer review websites such as Trustpilot are a good way of understanding the level of service you can expect from your bank.

From around 1,500 reviews on Trustpilot, 83% of Barclays customers rated the bank as ‘Bad’, giving them an average of 1 star out of 5.

Barclays Trustpilot

Some of the more recent poor reviews include stories of poor customer service, which in some cases has led to years of distress. There are also customers who have had issues with their monthly salary being withheld and accounts frozen for days-on-end, with various pieces of unhelpful advice from customer service providers seemingly contradicting one another.

There are some positive reviews for Barclays on Trustpilot, most of which describe the friendliness of staff in local branches. Despite this, even some of the better ratings are captioned with ‘great bank, not great customer service’ and ‘good, although customer service isn’t the best’.

It is important to remember that all financial service providers are likely to encounter issues from time to time, so it is better to look at a range of ratings, rather than just individual ones.

Ratings (out of 5):

Trustpilot: 1

Reviews.co.uk: 1.5

SmartMoneyPeople: 4.5

Reviewcentre: 1.5

Average: 2/5

The pros and cons of Barclays

Pros

  • Wide range of current accounts
  • Good choice for children's banking
  • Excellent smartphone app
  • Easy to switch

Cons

  • Limited options for savings accounts/ISAs
  • Poor customer service
  • Poor reviews on trusted websites

Despite being an evidently popular bank in the UK, it is apparent that Barclays’ customer service lets it down. Remarkably low ratings from some of the UK’s top customer satisfaction gauges suggest that many account holders would consider switching banks.

As well as this, Barclays does not have the best savings account collection – particularly in comparison to some of their competitors – and the opportunity for extra benefits with Barclays Blue Rewards comes at £4 per month.

It is a good choice of bank for children, with plenty of current and savings accounts as well as ISAs geared towards under 18s, and boasts an almost faultless smartphone app for day-to-day banking.

Barclays contact information

There are a number of ways to get in touch with a Barclays advisor. These include:

  • Phone: 0800 400 100 or +44 2476 842 099 from abroad.
  • Twitter: @BarclaysUKHelp
  • Facebook Messenger: Barclays UK
  • Smartphone App

If you’d like to compare bank accounts like Barclays against some of the other best UK banks, we have a range of other reviews similar to this Barclays bank review. Just visit our bank reviews page here to see more.