You can open a British pound account from the United States either by opening one with a British bank or opening a foreign-exchange account at a U.S. brokerage firm. Either method will allow you to make transactions using pounds, but brokerage accounts are typically subject to more restrictions on transfers, withdrawals and minimum balances.
Opening a British Bank Account
Find a British bank that suits your needs. If you're planning to move to the United Kingdom or spend an extended period of time there, you might want to find a bank that has numerous ATM and retail locations around the area where you will be staying. If you're planning to make many international transactions from the account, find one with low transaction fees.
Contact the bank. You will need to present a scanned copy of your passport or your UK government-issued identification. Some international banks will allow you to open an account without a UK address as long as you provide a valid bank account from which to transfer funds. Others will require you to provide a UK address. You can also contact a firm that will organize a bank account opening for you if you can't or are incapable of providing a UK address.
Transfer the required amount of funds to the new UK account along with any other fees related to opening the account, transferring the money and any currency transaction fees that apply.
Opening a Foreign Exchange Account
Find a brokerage firm in the United States that provides foreign-exchange accounts. These kinds of accounts are used primarily by currency traders. These offer very low currency conversion fees, but some other fees and requirements might apply, such as minimum balances.
Open the foreign exchange account, paying all relevant fees and depositing at least the minimum required amount of U.S. dollars. Use the dollars to purchase pounds. You will be able to access the pounds from the account, although you'll need a pound-denominated bank account to transfer the funds out of the foreign-exchange account.
Make use of the pounds as you see fit. You may use them to invest in UK securities, transfer the money to a UK bank account, or let the money remain stable as an investment or hedge against currency value fluctuations.
Foreign students looking to open a bank account in the UK might have to present proof of their student status.
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