Best student bank account in the UK 2020

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

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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.

Latest student bank accounts

Santander

123 Student Current Account

123 Student Current Account
Finder Rating: 5/5

★★★★★

Go to site Read review

£0.01

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

1% AER

Interest (AER)

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 interest on in-credit balances;
  • Earn cashback with retailers.
  • Not available for international or postgraduate students;
  • There are plenty of student accounts with larger overdrafts.
Free 16-25 Railcard for new customers. Valid for four years, with students saving up to one third on most rail fares. Eligible for Retailer Offers, customers must use online or mobile banking to qualify. Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when using a Santander debit card or credit card. Eligible for welcome benefits through Retailer Offers. Earn up to 20% cashback at participating retailers. Students have 30 days to activate and redeem their offer once account opened. Free access to preferential rates, exclusive offers and discounts at 123 World.

Bank of Scotland

Student Account

Student Account
Finder Rating: 4/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

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.
  • 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.
Receive a free TOTUM card for three years when account opened by 31.10.20. The card offers over 200 UK discounts on the high street and online, including Odeon, Café Rouge, ASOS and Thorpe Park. Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Bank of Scotland credit or debit card. Customers must be over 18, register for internet banking and activate the offer to be eligible.

Barclays

Student Additions

Student Additions
Finder Rating: 4.5/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

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.
Free 12-month subscription to Perlego the online library when opening a Student Additions account. Offer available between 20.9.20 and 30.6.21. Eligible for Barclays Cashback, earn cashback and discounts on goods, services and travel. Customers must use online or mobile banking to qualify. Eligible for Barclays Blue Rewards. Eligibility criteria applies: £4pm charge, £800pm funding, 2 monthly DDs paid out, must be registered for online or mobile banking. All customers receive a monthly loyalty reward of up to £7pm (£3.50 for first 2 DDs) & earn cashback with Barclays Cashback partners. Mortgage customers receive an additional £5pm mortgage loyalty reward for the mortgage term. Earn 3% cashback when taking out or renewing home insurance. Unsecured personal loan customers receive an additional £1pm loan loyalty reward for the loan term. Earn £1.50pm when life insurance taken out and £5pm for life insurance with critical illness cover paid for a maximum of 12 months and only on one policy. Paid into a digital Rewards Wallet linked to a selected Barclays c/a. Free personalised debit card. You can upload own pictures or choose from extensive online gallery.

Halifax

Student

Student
Finder Rating: 4/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0.1% AER

Interest (AER)

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.
  • 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.
Cashback Extras - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Halifax credit or debit card. Customers must be over 18, be registered for internet banking and activate the offer to be eligible.

Lloyds

Student

Student
Finder Rating: 4/5

★★★★★

Read review

£1

Minimum opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

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.
  • Large interest-free overdraft;
  • A great selection of discounts with hundreds of retailers.
  • This account isn’t available for international students.
Receive a free TOTUM card for three years when account opened by 31.10.20. The card offers over 200 UK discounts on the high street and online, including Odeon, Café Rouge, ASOS and Thorpe Park. Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Lloyds Bank credit or debit card. Customers must be over 18, be registered for internet banking and activate the offer to be eligible.

Latest student bank accounts for international students

Natwest

Student - International Student

Student - International Student
Finder Rating: 2.5/5

★★★★★

Read review

£0.01

Minimum opening balance

£10 per month

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

For those studying in the UK from abroad, NatWest has a student account that lets you choose from three different offers: an Amazon Prime student membership, a National Express Coachcard or a tastecard. There’s a £10 monthly fee for using the account.
  • Large interest-free overdraft;
  • A great selection of gifts.
  • Monthly account fee for international students.
Choose 1 of the following offers - Amazon Prime Student, 1 year free membership and £10 Amazon.co.uk gift card or National Express Coachcard, valid for 4 years giving 1/3 off fares plus 15% off travel to events and festivals or tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals plus savings on entertainment.

Compare the best student bank accounts

Table: sorted by interest rate, promoted deals first
Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Account fees Interest (AER) Funding requirement 0% overdraft limit Perks Link Representative example
Santander
£0
1% AER
Min. £500 per term
Up to £1,500
What about the perks? Free 16-25 Railcard for new customers. Valid for four years, with students saving up to one third on most rail fares.
Go to site
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
What about the perks? Free 12-month subscription to Perlego the online library when opening a Student Additions account. Offer available between 20.9.20 and 30.6.21.
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
What about the perks? Eligible for AIB Rewards in partnership with Visa. Receive cashback rewards when spending on your Visa card at selected retailers.
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.
Lloyds Bank
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
What about the perks? Receive a free TOTUM card for three years when account opened by 31.10.20. The card offers over 200 UK discounts on the high street and online, including Odeon, Café Rouge, ASOS and Thorpe Park.
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
What about the perks? Choose 1 of the following offers - Amazon Prime Student, 1 year free membership and £10 Amazon.co.uk gift card or National Express Coachcard, valid for 4 years giving 1/3 off fares plus 15% off travel to events and festivals or tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals plus savings on entertainment.
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
What about the perks? Eligible for Ulster Bank Rewards in partnership with Visa. Receive cashback rewards when using a registered debit card at selected Northern Ireland retailers.
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
What about the perks? Choose 1 of the following offers - Amazon Prime Student, 1 year free membership and £10 Amazon.co.uk gift card or National Express Coachcard, valid for 4 years giving 1/3 off fares plus 15% off travel to events and festivals or tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals plus savings on entertainment.
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 - International Student
Royal Bank of Scotland
£10 per month
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Not available
What about the perks? Choose 1 of the following offers - Amazon Prime Student, 1 year free membership and £10 Amazon.co.uk gift card or National Express Coachcard, valid for 4 years giving 1/3 off fares plus 15% off travel to events and festivals or tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals plus savings on entertainment.
View details
Representative example: N/A
Bank of Scotland
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £500
What about the perks? Receive a free TOTUM card for three years when account opened by 31.10.20. The card offers over 200 UK discounts on the high street and online, including Odeon, Café Rouge, ASOS and Thorpe Park.
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
£10 per month
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Not available
What about the perks? Choose 1 of the following offers - Amazon Prime Student, 1 year free membership and £10 Amazon.co.uk gift card or National Express Coachcard, valid for 4 years giving 1/3 off fares plus 15% off travel to events and festivals or tastecard, valid for 4 years giving 50% off food or 2 for 1 meals plus savings on entertainment.
View details
Representative example: N/A
HSBC
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,000
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
What about the perks? Cashback Extras - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Halifax credit or debit card. Customers must be over 18, be registered for internet banking and activate the offer to be eligible.
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
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.
Nationwide BS
£0
1% AER
Min. £500 per term
Up to £1,000
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
1% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Not available
View details
Representative example: N/A
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Compare up to 4 providers

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. We have listed six accounts which we rate as the “best” choice, based on various types of incentive.

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, 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 overdraft

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 students’ 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 among. Here is a (by no means complete) list:

  • Interest on your balance. Up to a certain 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’s often better value for money than other benefits you don’t know how much you’ll be able to take advantage of.
  • Discounts and other freebies. Some accounts offer dedicated discounts at certain retailers or restaurants, or cashback options.

4 money-saving tips for students

  • Budget and you won’t 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?
  • If you need to go for a 0% overdraft. 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. It’s 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 if you exceed the limit on that – you’re in trouble. 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 the 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.

How to find the best student 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 students 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.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Huge overdraft.
  • Lots of perks.
  • Available to students of all types.

Cons

  • International students have choice of accounts and less perks.

Our verdict

Choosing a student account can be overwhelming. There are a lot of different accounts with a lot of different bells and whistles. Hopefully, this guide makes it easier to find the best account for your specific needs.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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