Best student bank account in the UK 2021

Heading to uni in September? Get ready with a great student current account and a whole lot of freebies.

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Compare the best student bank accounts

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
Name Product Account fees Interest (AER) Funding requirement 0% overdraft limit Incentive Link Representative example
HSBC
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,000
£80 cash reward, plus the choice of a £20 Uber Eats voucher or a year of unlimited next-day delivery with ASOS Premier, when 5 debit card transactions are made within a month of opening the account.
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View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Santander
£0
0% AER
Min. £500 per term
Up to £1,500
Free 16-25 Railcard for new customers.
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View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Bank of Scotland
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Bank of Scotland credit or debit card.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Student Account
Ulster Bank
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,000
Commission free travellers cheques and currency in branch only.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Barclays
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,000
Yes - Free 12-month subscription to Perlego the online library when opening a Student Additions account.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Student
Royal Bank of Scotland
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
£50 cash reward and Tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals, plus offers on entertainment and shopping.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
The Co-operative Bank
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,400
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
NatWest
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
£50 cash reward and Tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals, plus offers on entertainment and shopping.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Student+ Account
AIB
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,850
No commission charges on foreign currency notes transactions.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Nationwide BS
£0
0% AER
Min. £500 per term
Up to £1,000
Eligible for Member Credit Card.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Lloyds Bank
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Lloyds Bank credit or debit card.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Halifax
£0
0.1% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,500
Cashback Extras - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Halifax credit or debit card.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
Student Current Account
Bank of Ireland UK
£0
0.5% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £3,000
Commission free travellers cheques and currency.
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
TSB
£0
5% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
View details
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 0% EAR variable. Representative 0% APR variable.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Uni acceptance letter? Check. Student accommodation? Check. Vague feeling of dread because you’re about to move out and become a responsible person (sort of)? Check. Great, it’s now time to get yourself a bank account.

Student accounts can come packed with freebies and rewards to lure you in, so it’s worth shopping around. From railcards to tastecards to upfront cash, there’s no reason for you not to make the most out of your student status.

Michelle Stevens
Finder’s deputy editor for banking Michelle Stevens shares her thoughts
With the new university year about to begin, it’s a competitive market out there for student accounts right now, with most banks offering incentives to encourage students to sign up. Whether you’re after a cash bonus, a discount card or long-term account benefits, here are our recommended options.
  • Santander is the only bank this year to offer a free four-year 16-25 railcard with its student account, which gives you a third off rail fares. Account holders can also earn 15% cashback from selected retailers through Santander’s “Retailer Offers” programme.
  • HSBC is the bank offering the largest cash bonus for opening a student account in 2021, at £80. New account holders can also choose from a £20 Uber Eats voucher or a year of unlimited next-day delivery if they make 5 debit card transactions within a month of opening the account. This student account also comes with one of the largest third-year overdrafts, at £3,000.
  • Nationwide has the joint largest third-year overdraft (along with HSBC), of £3,000. There aren’t any freebies for signing up to this account, but for keen travellers out there, this in the only student account to offer fee-free spending and cash withdrawals abroad.

Best student bank account for railcards

Santander - 123 Student Current Account

123 Student Current AccountFinder Rating: 4.5/5

★★★★★

Go to siteRead review

£0.01

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Free 16-25 Railcard for new customers.
Santander’s student account remains an excellent value for students, especially those who need to catch trains a lot, such as those moving to the other side of the country. You get a four year railcard with Santander, which gets you ⅓ off rail fare, a lifesaver when you need to go home for Christmas on a budget and need to buy a train ticket. It also offers an interest free overdraft up to £1,500 for the first three years of your degree, which then increases if you stay on for longer. Plus, you can get cashback of up to 15% at some major retailers.
  • Interest-free overdraft;
  • Earn cashback with retailers.
  • Not available for international or postgraduate students;
  • There are plenty of student accounts with larger overdrafts.
Interest rate 0%
AER
Minimum opening balance £0.01
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Maximum overdraft in year 1 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £1,500
At end of term Account transferred automatically to graduate account
Overseas card transactions 2.95%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.95%

Other student bank account reviews

Bank of Scotland - Student Account

Student AccountFinder Rating: 4.5/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Bank of Scotland credit or debit card.
Bank of Scotland offers an interest free overdraft of £1,500 for the first three years of your degree and £2,000 thereafter. You also get a free TOTUM card for three years, which gives you access to more than 300 discounts in the UK. Plus, you get access to its Everyday offers which can get you up to 15% cashback.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable .
  • You’ll get access to discounts with hundreds of retailers.
  • This account isn’t available for international students;
  • There are plenty of student accounts offering larger overdrafts;
  • You’ll have to visit a branch to apply.
Interest rate 0%
AER
Minimum opening balance £1
Minimum operating balance £1
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Maximum overdraft in year 1 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £1,500
At end of term Account transferred automatically to graduate account
Overseas card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

Barclays - Student Additions

Student AdditionsFinder Rating: 4.5/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Yes - Free 12-month subscription to Perlego the online library when opening a Student Additions account.
For those looking for more of an academic benefit, Barclays’ student account gets you a subscription to Perlego, the “Spotify of textbooks”, which gives you access to more than 400,000 titles. You can also apply for a free overdraft of up to £3,000 starting at £1,000 and increasing by £1,000 each year studied. Barclays also offers up to 10% cashback when you shop with participating retailers.
  • There are plenty of money-saving features
  • The smartphone app doubles up as a useful budget planner.
  • It’s not available yet. Currently, you can only register your interest.
  • There are plenty of students accounts with bigger overdrafts for first-year students.
Interest rate 0%
AER
Minimum opening balance £1
Minimum operating balance £1
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Maximum overdraft in year 1 £1,000
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £2,000
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £3,000
At end of term Account transferred automatically to Higher Education Account for graduates
Overseas card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

Halifax - Student

StudentFinder Rating: 4.5/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0.1% AER

Interest (AER)

Cashback Extras - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Halifax credit or debit card.
Halifax offers an interest free arranged overdraft up to £1,500 for the length of your course plus one year. The real beauty of this account is the cashback. You can get up to 15% cashback when you spend using your debit card using Cashback Extras. Also included in the account is its round-ups feature that saves up small amounts for you.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable .
  • You’ll get access to discounts with hundreds of retailers;
  • You can earn interest on in-credit balances.
  • No freebies offered with this account;
  • You’ll have to visit a branch to apply.
Interest rate
0.1%
AER
Minimum opening balance £1
Minimum operating balance £1
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Maximum overdraft in year 1 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £1,500
At end of term Account transferred automatically to Current Account
Overseas card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

Lloyds Bank - Student

StudentFinder Rating: 4/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Lloyds Bank credit or debit card.
Lloyds offers up to 15% cashback with Everyday Offers when you use your debit card at certain retailers. You can also get an arranged overdraft of up to £1,500 for the first three years of your degree.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable .
  • Large interest-free overdraft;
  • A great selection of discounts with hundreds of retailers.
  • This account isn’t available for international students.
Interest rate 0%
AER
Minimum opening balance £1
Minimum operating balance £1
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Maximum overdraft in year 1 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £1,500
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £1,500
At end of term Account transferred automatically to graduate account
Overseas card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

How to find the best student bank account

Times can be tough financially when you’re a full-time student. In many cases you won’t have time to work a full-time job, but you still need to fund your living expenses.

Thankfully, most of the major banks have created student bank accounts to help ease your financial worries during your studies.

These accounts usually come with a large interest-free overdraft that you can borrow from when the purse strings become particularly tight. This is arguably the most useful aspect of a student bank account, especially if your student loan isn’t enough to cover your cost of living during your studies.

It’s important to remember that interest will be charged on all student account overdrafts eventually, so it’s best to use it sparingly and repay it as quickly as possible.

Many banks also add freebies or discounts with retailers in order to tempt students to their accounts. If you’re a student with a bit of money to spend, these accounts might prove more eye-catching than those with huge overdrafts.

Ultimately, the best student account will depend on your personal financial situation.

How are student bank accounts different from regular current accounts?

Student bank accounts are, by all means, full current accounts and not very different from non-student accounts: they do all you can expect, from providing you with a debit card to letting you set up standing orders and direct debits.

However, they’re tailored to your student life, offering great benefits and freebies. Unlike standard accounts, most student accounts also offer a 0% overdraft.

Banks are generous with these accounts because in most cases your student account will be your very first bank account, so they use it as a way to attract new customers that they hope to keep for life.

What is required to apply?

To apply for a student bank account, you’ll need to provide the same personal details as when applying for a regular bank account. Your proof of ID, basic financial details, address history and a credit check, etc.

You’ll also need to provide details of the course you’re studying to prove you’re a student. You’ll usually have to provide your UCAS number, as well as the name and length of your course, plus your university name.

Student bank account overdrafts

One of the core features of student bank accounts is the 0% overdraft. It means that you can spend more than you have in your account without being charged any interest, which is great because a student’s income is not always as constant as, say, an employee’s salary.

You’ll be credit-checked when you apply for it, but don’t worry too much – as a student, banks won’t expect you to have a massive credit history anyway.

The limit of your student account overdraft will usually increase for each year of university; by the third year, it can be pretty high, sometimes up to £3,000. You’ll need to request the increase though.

As we said, overdrafts are great and mean you can get extra money for your Christmas gifts or for a special night out, but don’t forget that you’re still borrowing money and will have to pay it back at some point.

For students requiring further credit or looking to start building a positive credit history, most banks can also offer student bank account holders a student credit card (subject to approval).

Student bank account freebies

Even if you’re not planning on touching your overdraft (wise resolution!), student accounts can offer a variety of other benefits to choose from. Here are some examples:

  • Interest on your balance. Up to a certain balance limit. Great if you think you’ll be able to stay in credit most of the time.
  • Transport discounts. Some accounts come with a free 16-25 railcard, which would normally cost you £30 a year and features a 1/3 discount on all rail fares in the UK. If you’d rather travel on four wheels, you may also be able to get a coachcard.
  • Cash upfront. A sort of sign-up bonus to lure you in. Cash isn’t an especially fancy reward, but it could be better value if you don’t think you’ll take that much advantage of the other benefits on offer.
  • Discounts and cashback. Some accounts offer dedicated discounts at certain retailers or restaurants, or cashback options.

4 money-saving tips for students

  • Budget well and you might not need an overdraft! Going to uni is all about learning new things and gaining life experience. Why not get a head start and get into some good money habits from your first term? There are a range of budgeting apps to help you with this.
  • If you need to go for an overdraft, makes sure it’s 0% interest. Like we’ve said above, it’s best practice to avoid the overdraft. But… a few big nights out in a row and it’s easy to find yourself there. If this sounds like you (let’s be honest, it does), you want to make sure you’re paying 0% on your overdraft. The interest-free overdrafts that come with students accounts mean this is one of the only times in your life you’ll be able to do this!
  • Don’t go over the overdraft limit. You might have a nice big 0% overdraft, but don’t exceed the limit on that. Banks will start charging you for every day you’re over the limit, so watch out!
  • Switch to a graduate account when you’ve graduated. You should aim to pay off your student overdraft ASAP. When you’ve finished uni, switch to a graduate account with good rates and terms that will allow you to pay off the debt.

Student bank account jargon explained

Funding requirement. Some accounts require the account holder to pay in at least a specified minimum amount each month, academic term or year.
AER. Annual equivalent rate. This is a way of showing the interest you’d earn in a year on money you deposited into an account, and helps you to compare accounts.
EAR. Equivalent annual rate. This is the interest rate that applies when you borrow money – when you use your arranged overdraft, for example. It shows the interest you would be charged over a year if your account were to remain overdrawn.
Arranged overdraft. If your account goes into the red, the bank will charge you a set EAR (which may be 0% in the case of a student account overdraft). Before you go overdrawn, you need to arrange this facility with your bank.

How to find the best student bank account if you are an international student

International students are afforded less perks with their student bank accounts. It will be difficult for them to be approved for an overdraft too. A lot of international student accounts come with a monthly fee as well.

Some banks don’t offer specialised student bank accounts for international students. Those that do have a separate page on their websites illustrating the perks available and the monthly fee attached.

As there are so few perks available, international students would be well advised to choose the account with the lowest monthly fee.

However, some students may be more drawn to the accounts that offer lower international transfer fees, or those that don’t require you to visit a branch to open an account. Visit our guide on opening a bank account as an international student for more information.

Pros and cons of student bank accounts

Pros

  • Large 0% overdrafts available.
  • Lots of perks on offer for signing up.
  • Often available to students on a variety of course formats (not just a three-year undergraduate degree).

Cons

  • International students have a smaller choice of accounts that also come with less perks.

The bottom line

Choosing a student bank account can be a difficult decision as there are a lot of different accounts to choose from, that all come with different sized overdrafts and perks. Hopefully this guide has made it easier to find the best account for your specific needs, and you can use our table at the top of the page to compare student bank accounts side by side.

Frequently asked questions

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