Compare UK student bank accounts and start living your best life

If you’re starting uni this September, it’s time to milk those banks for an interest-free overdraft, discounts and freebies. It’d be rude not to, right?

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.

Compare the best student bank and e-money accounts

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
1 - 13 of 13
Name Product Account fees Interest (AER) Funding requirement 0% overdraft limit Incentive Link Representative example
OFFER
Santander Edge Student Current Account
£0
0% AER
Min. £500 per term
Up to £2,000
(Max £1,500 in year 1)
tag iconA free 4-year Santander 16-25 Railcard to save 1/3 on rail travel in Great Britain - worth £100 plus a total average saving of £728 (average saving of £182 per year).
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Suits Me Student
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Not available
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FlexStudent
£0
0% AER
Min. £500 per term
Up to £3,000
(Max £1,000 in year 1)
View details
Student Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £3,250
(Max £2,000 in year 1)
tag iconFree 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
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Student Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £2,000
(Max £1,400 in year 1)
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Student Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £2,000
(Max £1,500 in year 1)
tag iconEveryday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Bank of Scotland credit or debit card.
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HSBC Student Bank Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £3,000
(Max £1,000 in year 1)
tag iconDiscounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC home&Away.
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Student Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,000
tag iconFree 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
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Student+ Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,850
tag iconNo commission charges on foreign currency notes transactions.
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Student Account
£0
0% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £3,250
(Max £2,000 in year 1)
tag iconFree 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
View details
Student
£0
0.5% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £1,500
tag iconCashback Extras - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Halifax credit or debit card.
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Student Current Account
£0
0.5% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £3,000
tag iconCommission free travellers cheques and currency.
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Student
£0
2% AER
No minimum funding requirement
Up to £2,000
(Max £1,500 in year 1)
tag iconEveryday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Lloyds Bank credit or debit card.
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Best student bank account for railcards

Santander - Santander Edge Student Current Account

£2,000

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

A free 4-year Santander 16-25 Railcard to save 1/3 on rail travel in Great Britain - worth £100 plus a total average saving of £728 (average saving of £182 per year).
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 fares, 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.
  • Interest-free overdraft;
  • Free 16-25 railcard when you sign up.
  • Not available to international or postgraduate students;
  • Account has a minimum funding requirement;
  • There are other 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 cash withdrawals 2.95%

Best student bank account for overdraft size

NatWest - Student Account

£3,250

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Sign up to the NatWest student account and pay no monthly fees. You’ll also benefit from an interest-free overdraft, which is arguably one of the most competitive as it can be increased from year 3 onwards. The account can be managed online with the NatWest mobile app or online banking service. NatWest often has an account opening incentive.
  • Interest-free overdraft;
  • Account opening incentives;
  • Emergency cash withdrawals if you don’t have your card.
  • This account is not available to international students;
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 £2,000
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £2,000
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £3,250
At end of term Account transferred automatically to graduate account
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.75%

Best student bank account for overseas spending

Nationwide BS - FlexStudent

£3,000

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

The Nationwide FlexStudent account offers an interest free overdraft that increases each year of study. What’s more, the account is a good option if you’re a keen traveller as it’s the only student account not to charge fees for using your debit card abroad. You can choose to bank online, via the app, over the phone or in branch. To apply you need to be 18 years or older, be a UK resident for 3 years or more, and have been accepted onto a full-time UCAS course of at least 2 years in the UK.
  • Large 0% interest overdraft throughout your studies and for three years after you graduate;
  • No overseas card fees.
  • Minimum funding requirement each term;
  • This account is only available if you’re studying for two years or more.
Interest rate 0% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
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 graduate account
Overseas cash withdrawals 0%

Other student bank account reviews

Bank of Scotland - Student Account

£2,000

Max. interest-free overdraft

£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. Plus, you'll get access to its "Everyday Offers" programme, which can earn you up to 15% cashback at selected retailers.
  • Earn up to 15% cashback with Bank of Scotland’s retail partners.
  • This account isn’t available to international students;
  • There are other student accounts offering larger overdrafts.
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 cash withdrawals 2.99%
Halifax - Student

£1,500

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0.5% 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 of up to £1,500 for the length of your course plus one year. The real beauty of this account is the cashback. Through the Cashback Extras programme, you can get up to 15% cashback when you spend at selected retailers using your Halifax debit card.
  • You’ll get access to cashback with some retailers;
  • You can earn interest on in-credit balances.
  • No freebies offered with this account;
  • There are other student accounts with larger overdrafts.
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 Current Account
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%
HSBC - HSBC Student Bank Account

£3,000

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC home&Away.
The HSBC Student Bank Account is arguably one of the most competitive, and offers an interest-free arranged overdraft of up to £3,000. This is tiered, so you’ll be given up to £1,000 in your first year, rising to £3,000 by your third year. You can manage your account online or via the app. To qualify you need to be aged 18 years or over and have a confirmed place on a qualifying course at a UK university or college.
  • An interest-free overdraft, with a limit increasing up to £3,000 in your final year;
  • Incentives for opening and using the account.
  • This account is not available to international students;
  • This account is not available to apprentices.
Interest rate 0% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
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 graduate account
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.75%
Lloyds Bank - Student

£2,000

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

2% 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 3 years of your degree, rising to £2,000 for years 4 to 6.
  • Interest-free overdraft;
  • Free 3-year TOTUM discount card;
  • Cashback with Lloyds’ retail partners.
  • This account isn’t available to international students;
  • There are larger overdrafts with some other student accounts.
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 cash withdrawals 2.99%
Royal Bank of Scotland - Student Account

£3,250

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Sign up to the Royal Bank of Scotland student account and pay no monthly fees. You’ll also benefit from an interest-free overdraft. The account can be managed online with the Royal Bank of Scotland mobile app or online banking service. The Royal Bank of Scotland also often runs account opening incentives.
  • Interest-free overdraft;
  • Sign-up incentives;
  • Emergency cash withdrawals if you don’t have your card.
  • Some other student accounts offer a larger interest-free overdraft in the third year;
  • This account is not available to international students.
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 £2,000
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £2,000
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £3,250
At end of term Account transferred automatically to graduate account
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.75%
TSB - Student

£1,500

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

5% AER

Interest (AER)

Save 35% on a Hussle Monthly+ gym pass.
TSB offers an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,500. You can start university with a £500 interest-free overdraft, and choose to increase your limit at 6, 7 and 10 months. However, if you manage to stay in credit, you’ll be able to earn 5.00% AER interest on balances up to £500.
  • An interest-free overdraft
  • You can earn interest on in-credit balances
  • No freebies offered with this account
  • There are other student accounts with larger overdrafts
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 cash withdrawals 2.99%
The Co-operative Bank - Student Account

£2,000

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

The Co-operative Bank offers an interest-free overdraft starting at £1,400 that you can request to increase each year. You’ll have 1 year to pay off your overdraft after you finish your course. The Co-operative Bank also supports a large range of charities and has a customer-led Ethical Policy in place, where you can let it know the issues that matter to you.
  • An interest-free overdraft
  • Consumer-led Ethical Policy
  • No freebies offered with this account
  • There are other student accounts with larger overdrafts
Interest rate 0% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Maximum overdraft in year 1 £1,400
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £1,700
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £2,000
At end of term Account transferred automatically to Current Account
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.75%

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.

Case study: Ben, 18, stayed with Nationwide for his student account

Ben Duffy profile pic
Ben Duffy

London

I looked at a range of student accounts and I chose Nationwide for several reasons. It was offering £100 which looked similar to other student account offers. What swayed me was that I was already a customer and I had got £100 in the Fairer Share scheme so I was quite happy with staying as a Nationwide customer.

If there's one thing you'd tell a friend who's thinking of getting this, what would it be?
If you plan to travel, check whether your student account charges fees for spending abroad - some of them do (Nationwide doesn't). If yours does, you can always get another account that you use just for going abroad, like Starling or Revolut.

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 living expenses or to spend on a special occasion, 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.
  • 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.

When you graduate, some student accounts automatically become graduate accounts and continue to offer a 0% overdraft. If yours doesn’t, you might be able to switch to another provider and still get a 0% overdraft. Use this time to pay back the debt you’ve racked up during your student years.”

Rachel Wait, Finder money expert

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 might), you want to make sure you’re paying 0% on your overdraft. The interest-free overdrafts that come with student accounts mean this is one of the few times in your life you’ll be able to take advantage of interest-free borrowing.
  • 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. Effective 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 fewer 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.

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

Banking scores

★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor

Finder scores, in blue, are based on our expert analysis. We also show reviews from users, where we've received more than 10, with a score in yellow. We gather more reviews from customers every year in Finder's customer satisfaction survey.

To find out more, read our full methodology.

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. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Matthew Boyle

Matthew Boyle is a banking and mortgages publisher at Finder. He has a 7-year history of publishing helpful guides to assist consumers in making better decisions. In his spare time, you will find him walking in the Norfolk countryside admiring the local wildlife. See full profile

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