A simples guide

Student Bank Accounts

So you’re off to university, fun, freedom and okay, maybe some studying thrown in for good measure. For many of us, becoming a student is the first time that new responsibilities emerge, for example managing your finances independently.

One thing is for sure. It’s almost impossible to avoid the need for a bank account these days, so in this article we’ll help you answer some of the questions that you might be wondering about when it comes to opening one.

Who are student accounts available to?

Let’s start with who can open a student bank account. Each bank has slightly different rules regarding who qualifies, but as a general rule, if you have an offer from UCAS for a full time course, at a UK university, you’ll be eligible.

If your situation is slightly different, for example you’re applying for a degree equivalent course, a postgraduate course, or entering part –time study it might be slightly different. While some banks will accept people on other types of course, part-time students in particular may find it less straightforward.

Actually opening an account is a pretty simple process. You’ll need proof of your home and term address (when you have it), some form of identification such as your passport or birth certificate and your UCAS offer. You’ll also need to show proof of any income you have, such as a pay slip, or statement of financial arrangement.

We recognise that opening a bank account can be a big step and make people feel a little nervous or feel slightly intimidated. Don’t worry, that’s normal and remember, the banks are interested in helping you now to create a lasting relationship beyond your university years.


What is the difference between student accounts and other current accounts?

In a word, overdraft. No, this doesn’t mean you need to rush out and get yourself an overdraft, although it is a fact of life that many students finish university with one.

What we mean is, access to an overdraft is the key difference. Student accounts typically offer some form of arranged interest free overdraft, and ordinary current accounts often don’t.

Some accounts will allow interest free overdrafts of up to £3,000 during your studies. This means you won’t have to pay any interest on that overdrawn balance until after you graduate.

piggy bank and coins

When should a prospective student open an account?

As soon as you have an offer from UCAS. It is best to start the process as quickly as you can. The sooner your account is set up, the sooner you can start using it. Don’t wait until you get to university if you can help it.

You’ll need your account for practical things like paying bills such as rent, electricity and other utilities. Having the account already set up and ready to go will make life much easier for you.

credit card

Other things to think about

  • Check the terms on the overdraft. While typically banks will offer an interest free overdraft, not all overdrafts are the same. As well as the obvious differences in the amounts offered, some will come with conditions. That might involve increasing the limit with each year of study, it might be subject to you proving your financial discipline or you may have to apply for it when you need it.
  • Freebies. Some accounts may offer retail vouchers, others music vouchers,. There are others that will offer a free Railcard or discounts on coach travel. Others may offer you access to a credit card. There is a wide range so don’t jump at the first thing you’re offered, think about what really is the most useful to you.
  • Be disciplined. Yes we might sound a bit boring here but you shouldn’t think of your overdraft limit as something to pursue. It’s there as a backup if you need it. You won’t win any points with your bank by burning through your limit. In fact quite the opposite. They may hit you with charges and you might damage your credit score, which could affect your ability to borrow well beyond your student years.

We can help you further with comparing various student bank accounts.

We’ve put together a very simple student bank account comparison service which will show you what bank accounts are available including overdraft details and details of other features.

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