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
Bank of Scotland
Latest student bank accounts for international students
What's in this guide?
- Latest student bank accounts
- Latest student bank accounts for international students
- Compare the best student bank accounts
- How to find the best student bank account
- How are student bank accounts different from regular current accounts?
- What is required to apply?
- Student bank account overdraft
- Student bank account freebies
- 4 money-saving tips for students
- Compare student bank accounts
- How to find the best student account if you are an international student
- Pros and cons
- Our verdict
- Frequently asked questions
Compare the best student bank accounts
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
- Huge overdraft.
- Lots of perks.
- Available to students of all types.
- International students have choice of accounts and less perks.
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
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