‘When I first got a credit card, I didn’t realise that you pay later for your purchases, in Italy, it’s taken straight out of your bank account’ – Italian

‘When I came to the UK from Russia, I thought I had lots of money as my bank gave me this big figure and followed it by OD. I spent a lot of money until I realised it meant money I didn’t have and stood for overdrawn’ – Russian

The UK works with both cash and credit and debit cards. You can’t survive in the UK without a bank account. Having a bank account is vital for securing accommodation, allowing people to transfer money into your account, transferring money home. At the moment, if you are in credit, your bank account should be free. Make sure you understand what it means if you take out more money than you have in your account.

Credit cards are also helpful for purchasing online – the UK is one of the most online economies in the world. They work well if you pay off every month and if you don’t, make sure you know the interest rates. Set up your account so that you always pay the minimum payment.

Increasingly, we are asked to pay for small purchases, up to £25 with ‘contactless’, this means that the money goes straight from your account but it can also mean that you are less aware of how much things cost. There are things you have to pay by contactless but if you want to keep an eye on your money and know if items are too expensive for you, pay cash.

  • For understanding how the British feel about money, go to Totally Money
  • For advice on opening an account without an address, go to
  • For advice on money go to Money Saving Expert
  • If you have serious concerns about debt, you should visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • To discuss money in the UK and to share your story, go to togetherintheUK Facebook page.