Best student bank accounts for international students UK

Learn more about opening a student current account as an international student and if you need one or not.

It might not be a task that excites you, but if you’re studying in the UK then setting up a British bank account will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Many banks, however, require you to spend a certain amount of time in the UK before allowing you to open up a dedicated student account. This guide will explore the options available to you. If you plan on staying in the UK for the long-haul then you may be eligible for a range of dedicated UK student accounts.

Compare bank accounts for international students

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Name Product Ratings Account fees Funding requirement Interest (AER) Arranged overdraft Incentive Representative example Link
Select Account
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER
39.49% EAR variable
Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Current account switch service guarantee badgeRepresentative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable.
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Select Account
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER
39.49% EAR variable
Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Current account switch service guarantee badgeRepresentative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable.
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Student Additions
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER

Eligible for Barclays Blue Rewards.
Current account switch service guarantee badge
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Bank Account
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER

(Subject to status)
Eligible for Regular Saver product.
Current account switch service guarantee badgeRepresentative example: 0% EAR (variable) on the first £25, 39.9% EAR (variable) on anything above that, giving a representative annual percentage rate (APR) of 38.9% APR (variable). Based on an arranged overdraft of £1,200.
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Classic
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER
39.9% EAR variable
Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Lloyds Bank credit or debit card.
Current account switch service guarantee badgeRepresentative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable.
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FlexAccount - Funded
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER
39.9% EAR variable
Eligible for Member Credit Card.
Current account switch service guarantee badgeRepresentative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable.
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Spend & Save
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0% AER
39.9% EAR variable
£50 for accounts opened between 21.11.22 and 16.12.22 and switched using Current Account Switching Service by 13.1.23.
Current account switch service guarantee badgeRepresentative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable.
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Why open a British bank account?

Here are the main reasons why you should set up a British bank account as an international student:

  • Currency conversion fees. Most bank accounts charge currency conversion fees whenever you withdraw cash or spend money on your debit card outside of your home country. These conversion fees fluctuate over time, making it harder to budget if you’re now living in the UK. There might be other foreign loading fees charged on top of these too, depending on your bank.
  • Fees for withdrawing cash. Some bank accounts may charge a one-off fee for withdrawing cash at a foreign cashpoint (which in this scenario, would be ATMs in the UK).
  • Employers may not be able to pay you. If you’re planning on getting a part-time job during your studies, you may need a UK account in order to receive your wages. Most UK employers will want to pay directly into a UK bank account.
  • Setting up recurring payments. Some companies won’t allow you to set up direct debits or standing orders from an overseas account. This could make it more difficult to pay your rent or utility bills.
  • You might have to pay fees to transfer money to a UK account. This could make it more complicated to pay back friends in the UK, for example.
  • You can easily do your banking in-branch with a UK account. This might be more convenient than having to make international phone calls to communicate with banking staff in your home country.

Have you thought about a mobile-only bank?

Digital banks like Monzo, Starling or Revolut have stolen the headlines in fintech for the last few years. In the Finder office we’re big fans – here’s why:

  • Cool features. The best thing about them. Digital banks are constantly evolving and adding interesting features. The whole experience feels more user-centred and it’s easier to keep an eye on your spending, make budgets, and personalise the whole thing too.
  • Easy to set up. You just download the app, enter your data and confirm your identity. It usually takes less than 10 minutes.
  • No fees. This usually also applies to spending abroad.

How to open an account

International students can typically apply for a UK bank account in-branch or via a bank’s website.

You’ll have to provide various personal details, financial details and information about your course.

On top of that, you may be asked to provide copies of your passport, bank statements from your home country, a university acceptance letter and a valid visa (if you’re from outside the European Union).

You’ll usually have to wait until you’ve received an unconditional offer for a place on your university course before you apply for a bank account. You can expect the account to take at least 7-14 days to get set up, so it could be worthwhile applying before you move to the UK to start your course.

Which banks are best for international students?

International students are likely to gravitate towards the same perks that UK students do. Money can be tight when you’re studying full-time, which is why many students choose bank accounts with an interest-free overdraft, freebies or retail discounts.

However, there are some other considerations for international students. They might want an account which charges no fees for them to send money back home. They may also be looking to avoid monthly account fees, which apply to some bank accounts that are specifically for international residents.

Also bear in mind that international students or non-UK residents may not qualify for the maximum interest-free overdraft limits that can be applied for with dedicated student bank accounts.

Latest student bank account reviews

Barclays - Student Additions

£1,500

Max. interest-free overdraft

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Eligible for Barclays Blue Rewards.
For those looking for more of an academic benefit, the 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 an interest-free overdraft, starting at £500 in your first term and increasing up to a maximum of £1,500 in your second year and beyond.
  • Free 12-month Perlego subscription for signing up;
  • Plenty of budgeting features in the banking app;
  • International students can apply for this account.
  • There are many other students accounts with bigger 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 £500
Maximum overdraft in year 2 £1,000
Maximum overdraft in year 3 £1,500
At end of term Account transferred automatically to Higher Education Account for graduates
Overseas card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

Lloyds Bank - Student

£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 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, rising to £2,000 if you have a fourth or fifth year of study.
  • 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 card transactions 2.99%
Overseas cash withdrawals 2.99%

Sharia-compliant bank accounts for students

Al Rayan. The Al Rayan personal account is Sharia compliant and is available to anyone over the age of 16 years, including students. It is an interest-free account and comes with a debit card and cheque book. No monthly account fees are charged and funds deposited will be administered in accordance with Sharia principles. The account can be managed online or over the phone.

Alternatives to opening a UK student bank account

These alternatives aren’t necessarily as convenient or beneficial as a UK student bank account, so you might want to consider these options as a Plan B.

  • Basic bank accounts. Most UK banks have a basic bank account, which international students may be able to apply for. These typically come with no perks or overdraft facilities, but at least you’ll be able to pay people, set up recurring payments and get paid without any fuss.
  • Prepaid cards. You can transfer money onto these cards without paying any fees. Then, use the card to make payments or withdraw cash. Some of these cards allow you to set up direct debits and standing orders too. Just make sure there’s enough money loaded on to it on the day that these automated payments are due to be made.
  • Challenger bank accounts. These digital-only accounts can often be set up in minutes via an app and don’t always require you to have a proof of UK address. They don’t come with student-specific features or perks but usually have sophisticated spending analysis and saving tools to help you budget for student life. Popular apps include Starling, Revolut and Monzo.
  • Use a bank account from your own country. If you do this, make sure to choose an account with low fees on foreign transactions for when you’re living in the UK.
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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