Why open a student bank account?
It’s always a good idea to open a student bank account, rather than a ‘standard’ bank account, if you can. The main reason for doing so is that student bank accounts generally give you access to an interest-free overdraft facility – which, unfortunately, you may well need to use! In addition, as banks want to attract your custom, they offer a range of freebies to tempt you to bank with them.
Generally speaking, our advice is to ignore these inducements and check out the size of the interest-free overdraft each bank offers (as they do vary), and what happens to this overdraft once you graduate (what will generally happen, sooner or later, is that this overdraft ceases to be interest-free).
You should also be aware that the ‘headline figure’ of the possible overdraft you can get may well not be what you’ll get in reality. Banks often say you can get an overdraft ‘up to’ a certain amount – but it’s not a guarantee you’ll get this amount, and it may well depend on your credit rating.
Who is eligible to open a student account?
This can vary from bank to bank, but generally you’ll need to be a full-time student and a UK resident – often you’ll need to have been resident in the UK for at least 3 years.
If you don’t meet the requirements for a student account then you should be able to open a standard or basic bank account – however, these accounts are highly unlikely to have a significant interest-free overdraft facility, or indeed, in the case of basic bank accounts, an overdraft facility at all. If you are an international student then a basic bank account is likely to be your only option.
How can I open a student account and what will I need?
Bank policies vary – you may well be able to apply to open an account online, or you may need to do it in person in a branch office (for example if you are from the Channel Islands or Isle of Man).
You’ll need to provide proof of address and identity (e.g. passport) and also confirmation you have an unconditional place at the University or have met the requirements of the conditional offer. Your UCAS status code may well be sufficient for this, although some banks may require confirmation from the University that you have a place here.
Further useful information
Martin Lewis’s (broadcaster and journalist) website has some really helpful information and ‘top tips’ about student bank accounts, including a comparison of the different student accounts offered and ‘best buys’ in terms of the size of interest-free overdraft:
UCAS also has useful information, particularly with regard to how your UCAS status codes can make it easier to open a student account:
UKCISA is the main organisation providing information and advice to international students in the UK. They have good information for international students on opening a UK bank account:
If you have any further questions just ask. You can contact us by telephone 01273 642888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are open all year round and we can help any prospective students, current students or graduates so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Student Advice Service