High Street Bank

Updated on March 19, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is High Street Bank?

A High Street Bank is a retail banking institution well-established in a particular region, with many branches and mostly catering to individual consumers. It also works with small businesses, but not large corporations. However, it provides all-around banking services to the customers. The term originated in the United Kingdom.

What are high street banks?

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The High Street in the UK is similar to the Main Street in the United States. Therefore, the term ‘High Street bank’ denotes a commercial bank in an economically significant and busy country. Some reputed High Street banks in the UK include Barclays, HSBC, NatWest, etc.

Key Takeaways

  • A High Street bank is an established retail bank that mostly serves individuals and small-sized businesses rather than large firms.
  • Though essentially a British concept due to their presence in the High Street of the UK, it can mean any reputed banking institution serving mostly consumers.
  • It functions like a normal commercial bank, offers loans, accepts deposits, and provides online banking services.
  • However, these banks are now facing serious challenges from online banks or neobanks, which eliminate the need for customers to visit traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.

High Street Bank Explained

High street bank meaning describes banks usually established in busy areas of a country and receive high footfall. The High Street in the UK can be compared to the Main Street in the United States, unlike Wall Street. Main Street has much retail banking, whereas Wall Street houses many investment banks. 
Retail bank offerings from a high street bank include credit facilities, bank deposits, mortgages, personal loans, education high street bank loans, credit and debit cards, and internet banking options. Since the offerings of these banks are attractive and favorable to consumers, they are encouraged to open high street bank accounts. 
With this in mind, it is important to understand the competition these banks face from neobanks today, which are purely digital and have no traditional branches. All the services are online with neobanks. Even though the retail banks offer 24×7 online services, it is no match for the online banking experience provided by Neobanks. Also, there are offers of higher high street bank interest rates on bank deposits due to reduced overheads and the absence of a physical setup.

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Now let’s discuss some important features of banks in the High Street:

1. Retail banks – Banks in the high street banks are retail lending institutions. That is, they mostly cater to individuals rather than companies. However, some banks also provide services to small businesses.
2. Well-established – Most retail banks are widespread, having many branches in a certain region or worldwide. For example, HSBC has around 7500 branches worldwide.
3. Works like a normal bank – Banks in the High Street provide normal banking services to consumers like deposits, loans, credit/debit cards, internet banking, cash withdrawal, bank transfer services, etc.

4. Physical branches and ATMs – They have a good network of banches located strategically in various residential and commercial areas, along with ATMs, so that customers can conveniently access them and perform all kinds of banking related work.

5.Online banking – They give the facility of online banking so that customers can transact in the comfort of their home using the websites and mobile applications.

6.Personal loan and mortgages – They offer personal loan or mortgage high street bank loans option like retail banks. They provide loan facility to individuals for making any high value purchases like property, car, higher education, etc.

7.Credit cards – They issue credit cards to customers with good credit rating so that they can make purchases on credit and pay back the money later over a period of time.

8.Investment services – These banks also offer financial advisory and investment services to customers so that they can plan and manage their portfolio for maximum return at minimum cost.

9.International banking services – They also offer services related to international banking, like wire transfer or currency transfer between countries. The best high street bank also offer travel related financial products and services.

However, some of the best high street banks, like HSBC, Barclays, NatWest, etc., have expanded their services and are no longer confined to retail banking. They offer investment banking services with their high street bank accounts, which include portfolio and asset management, financial advice, etc. Further, they provide credit facilities to large corporations. 

The features mentioned above can vary, depending on the bank, its size, location and method of operation. It is necessary for customers to do some research and select the bank that will offer them what they require.


Consider the following high street bank examples to get a better understanding:

Example #1

Let’s look at the case of Barclays, one of the prominent High Street banks in the UK. Barclays has around 4750 branches in 55 countries worldwide. Apart from being a retail bank, it provides various financial services like trading, risk and portfolio management, impact investing, wealth management, and even business banking services. 

Recently, Barclays acquired the British mortgage lender Kensington Mortgage Company for $2.8 million. Also, it is seeking to enter China’s $4.3 trillion asset management market. These recent ventures of Barclays show that the retail bank is trying to seep into the local and foreign markets.

Example #2

As inflation rises, many consumers start shifting their private banks for various reasons. For example, in April 2022, when the inflation started moving upwards, around 27% of customers moved a part of their money from their primary retail banks to other such banks. Some of the reasons for this transition include easier payment of bills from the second bank, lower fees, better high street bank interest rates on deposits, cash backs, and rewards. 

Experts say that this transition has occurred since people have realized that their salaries cannot keep up with the inflation and that moving money to a better account will enable them to grow their money somehow. Also, research shows that this trend is more visible in people under 40.

List Of High Street Banks

Given below is a list of some well known high street banks.

  • Barclays bank
  • HSBC
  • Halifax
  • Lloyds
  • Metro Bank
  • Natwest
  • Santander

The above are some major such best high street bank which have a very good reputation and customer base due to their exceptional level of services and wide range of products to cater to customer needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Which is the best High Street bank?

Many retail banks are offering various services. Hence, it would be difficult to name one as the best. Therefore, any individual should first research the offerings of different banks and find the one for them. However, some of the reputed banks in the High Street are Barclays, Lloyds Bank, HSBC, NatWest, etc.

2. How can High Street banks help with student finance?

Since banks on the High Street help individuals by offering personal loans and mortgages, they also offer education loans at reasonable interest rates to support the student community. Apart from the credit, some banks advise students on managing their finances, which will help them make the best out of the money available.

3. Which High Street banks are British?

There are many retail banks in the UK. However, some prominent British banks are Barclays, Lloyds Bank, Metro Bank, and NatWest.

This article is a guide to what is High Street Bank. We give a list of some famous banks and explain the general features along with some suitable examples. You can also go through our recommended articles on corporate finance –


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