Are you an adviser? Go to Unbiased Pro

The top banks in the UK: 10 of the best

5 mins read
by Unbiased Team
Last updated Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Discover 10 of the top UK banks, their services, history, and market positions in this comprehensive guide.

With a rich history and a forward-looking approach, the UK's top banks play a crucial role in both domestic and global financial systems.

This article explores some of the best UK banks, providing an overview of their services, history, and market position.

Bank nameHeadquartersFounded
HSBC Holdings plcLondon1865
Barclays plc London1690
Lloyds Banking Group Edinburgh2009
Royal Bank of Scotland GroupEdinburgh1727
Standard Chartered plc London1969
Santander UK plcLondon2010
Nationwide Building SocietySwindon1884
TSB Bank plc Edinburgh2013
Virgin Money UK plcNewcastle upon Tyne2015
Metro Bank plcLondon2010
Get financial advice
We’ll find a professional perfectly matched to your needs. Getting started is easy, fast and free.
Find a financial adviser

1. HSBC Holdings

HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. Headquartered in London, HSBC serves over 40 million customers globally through a network that spans 64 countries and territories. 


  • Founded: 1865 in Hong Kong, with current headquarters in London. 

  • Services: Personal banking, commercial banking, wealth management, and global banking and markets. 

  • Market position: HSBC is known for its strong international presence and comprehensive range of services, catering to individuals, businesses, and institutions. 

HSBC's extensive global network and deep understanding of international markets make it a preferred choice for multinational corporations and individuals with international banking needs. 

2. Barclays

Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company. With a history dating back over 325 years, Barclays has established itself as a major player in the global banking sector


  • Founded: 1690 

  • Market position: Barclays is renowned for its innovative approach, particularly in digital banking, and its strong presence in investment banking. 

Barclays has a significant footprint in both retail and investment banking, offering a wide range of services that cater to various customer segments. 

3. Lloyds 

Lloyds is a leading UK-based financial services group, formed through the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS in 2009. It is one of the largest retail and commercial banks in the UK. 


  • Founded: 2009 (with origins dating back to 1765) 

  • Services: Retail banking, commercial banking, insurance, and wealth management. 

  • Market position: Lloyds is a dominant player in the UK retail banking sector, known for its extensive branch network and comprehensive range of financial products. 

Lloyds focuses heavily on serving the UK market, providing various services to individuals, businesses, and communities. 

4. NatWest Group

NatWest Group, which used to be the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), is one of the major banking institutions in the UK. NatWest Group has a long history and has played a significant role in the development of banking in Scotland and the UK. 


  • Founded: 1727 

  • Services: Retail banking, corporate banking, private banking, and insurance. 

  • Market position: NatWest Group focuses on providing robust banking solutions with a strong emphasis on customer service and support for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

NatWest Group is well-regarded for its commitment to supporting businesses and fostering economic development within the UK. 

5. Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered is a British multinational banking and financial services company with a focus on emerging markets. While headquartered in London, its operations are predominantly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. 


  • Founded: 1969 (through the merger of Standard Bank and Chartered Bank).

  • Services: Retail banking, corporate and institutional banking, commercial banking, and private banking. 

  • Market position: Standard Chartered's strength lies in its deep-rooted presence in high-growth markets and its expertise in international trade and investment. 

The bank's extensive experience in emerging markets makes it a preferred partner for businesses looking to expand globally. 

Get financial advice
We’ll find a professional perfectly matched to your needs. Getting started is easy, fast and free.
Find a financial adviser

6. Santander UK

Santander UK is a leading financial services provider in the UK, and a subsidiary of the major global bank, Banco Santander. It is known for its customer-focused approach and innovative banking solutions. 


  • Founded: 2010 (rebranding of Abbey National, Alliance & Leicester, and Bradford & Bingley) 

  • Services: Personal banking, business banking, mortgages, and wealth management. 

  • Market position: Santander UK is recognised for its strong emphasis on customer service and its competitive product offerings, particularly in the mortgage market. 

Santander's commitment to customer satisfaction and innovation has earned it a loyal customer base in the UK. 

7. Nationwide Building Society 

Nationwide Building Society is the largest building society in the world, providing a wide range of financial services with a strong focus on mutuality and member benefits. 


  • Founded: 1884 

  • Services: Savings accounts, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and insurance. 

  • Market position: Nationwide is celebrated for its customer-centric approach, offering competitive rates and products tailored to its members' needs. 

Nationwide's mutual status means it is owned by its members, which aligns its interests closely with those of its customers. 

8. TSB Bank  

TSB Bank is a retail and commercial bank in the UK, offering a range of banking services aimed at providing straightforward and transparent banking to its customers. 


  • Founded: 2013 

  • Services: Personal banking, business banking, mortgages, and savings accounts. 

  • Market position: TSB is known for its straightforward banking solutions and its commitment to transparency and customer trust. 

TSB's focus on simplicity and customer service has helped it build a strong reputation in the UK banking sector. 

9. Virgin Money UK

Virgin Money UK is a financial services brand used by Clydesdale Bank plc and its subsidiaries, known for its distinctive branding and customer-focused approach. 


  • Founded: 2015 

  • Services: Personal banking, business banking, credit cards, mortgages, and insurance. 

  • Market position: Virgin Money leverages the strong Virgin brand to offer innovative and attractive banking products that are particularly appealing to younger customers. 

Virgin Money's emphasis on innovation and brand strength has helped it differentiate itself in the competitive banking market. 

Nationwide plans to take over Virgin Money, but this is being investigated by the UK's competition watchdog.

10. Metro Bank

Metro Bank is a relatively new player in the UK banking scene, known for its unique approach to customer service and its distinctive retail banking model. 


  • Founded: 2010 

  • Services: Personal banking, business banking, and commercial banking. 

  • Market position: Metro Bank stands out for its customer-first philosophy, extended opening hours, and dog-friendly branches. 

Metro Bank's fresh and unconventional approach has attracted a loyal customer base and set new standards for customer service in banking. 


The UK's top banks each bring something unique to the table, whether it be extensive international networks, innovative digital banking solutions, or a strong commitment to customer service.

By understanding these banks' strengths and specialties, individuals and businesses can make informed decisions that best meet their financial needs.

Get financial advice
We’ll find a professional perfectly matched to your needs. Getting started is easy, fast and free.
Find a financial adviser
Unbiased Team
Our team of writers have decades of experience writing about B2B finance, including the latest information and trends related to financial, mortgage and accountancy advice firms.