Looking for a student bank account but not sure which one to choose?

Look no further - we’ve done the hard work for you and looked into all the UK student bank accounts so you’ve got everything you need in one place to decide on the best account for you.

You’ll find:

  • Eligibility criteria for getting an account
  • The main benefits of each one
  • Key things to bear in mind when choosing an account

 

So you can choose the best bank for you while you’re at university or college. 🙏

 

Do you need a student bank account?

The short answer? You definitely don’t need one.

Which is why lots of university and college students choose to get a student bank account.

 

Quick intro to student bank accounts

You’ll be able to use your student bank account to, among other things:

 

Most student accounts have an app you can use to easily manage your money too.

(If you’re looking for an app to see all your accounts and manage your money in one place, the Blackbullion app might be up your street.)

 

When you apply for a UK student bank account, the bank will run a credit check to make sure they’re happy to open an account for you based on how well you’ve used money in the past.

Since you’re a student, you might not have much for them to go off, meaning you’ll usually be given the account without any issues.

But if you have any history of bad credit - for example, large amounts of debt or missed debt payments in the past - you might not be able to get an account.

Learn more about what credit is and how to build up your credit report.

Main benefits of student bank accounts

We go into more detail in our ultimate guide to student banking, but as a quick run-through, some of the main benefits of a student bank account are:

  • No fees
  • Discount cards
  • Money and vouchers
  • Interest-free overdraft (which isn’t always a good idea - definitely see our student banking guide to learn why)
  • Spending rewards/cashback
  • Ability to earn interest on your money

 

The best student bank accounts in 2024

All the accounts below are current accounts - this guide doesn’t cover credit cards, savings accounts or investment accounts.

Four things are the same for all the banks below:

  • You have to be studying at a UK university or college
  • None of the accounts charge monthly fees
  • To open an account, you have to have lived in the UK for at least three years (we speak about international student bank accounts later on)
  • If an account is available to 17-year-olds, the overdraft will only be available once you turn 18

 

So let’s see what’s on offer:

Bank account Benefits Interest-free overdraft Earn interest? Eligibility

Santander Edge

Four-year Santander 16-25 Railcard, giving you a third off rail travel in England, Scotland and Wales

No fees when using Santander cash machines abroad

Rewards service offering cashback, vouchers, prize draws and more

1st-3rd year: £1,500

4th year: £1,800

5th year: £2,000

No

18+

About to begin or already started an undergraduate degree or Level 4-7 apprenticeship

Your course must be at least two years long

If your course hasn’t started yet, you must have either an unconditional offer or have received the grades you need to meet your conditional offer (i.e. you’ll have to wait until after results day)

You must pay £500 into your account every four months (this can come from your student maintenance loan)

Barclays Student Additions

12-month Perlego* subscription - an online library of books and other resources to help you with your studies

1st term: up to £500

Rest of 1st year: up to £1,000

2nd year and beyond: up to £1,500

No

18+

Studying full-time as an undergraduate, postgraduate or higher apprentice

If you’ve got a conditional offer but haven’t got your results yet, you can start your application but can only complete it once you’ve got the results you needed

NatWest

Four-year tastecard - two-for-one meals at many restaurants, discounts at other restaurants, plus discounted cinema tickets and other days out

1st year, term one: £500

Rest of 1st year and 2nd year: up to £2,000

3rd year and beyond: up to £3,250

No

17+

Full-time undergraduate on a two-year or longer course, OR completing a full-time postgraduate or nursing course that lasts at least one year

You can apply within six months of your course start date

RBS

Same as NatWest

Same as NatWest

No

Same as NatWest

TSB

Student discounts on gym memberships, car breakdown cover and the costs of moving house

1st year, first six months: up to £500

1st year, months seven to nine: up to £1,000

Rest of 1st year and beyond: up to £1,500

Up to 5% annual interest on any money up to £500 in your account

17+

Studying a full-time course that lasts two or more years, or a one-year access course that leads to a full-time degree

Confirmed university place

Bank of Scotland

Up to 15% cashback with Everyday Offers

Save the Change feature - automatically round transactions to the nearest pound, putting the difference into a savings account

1st year, first six months: up to £500

1st year, months seven to nine: up to £1,000

Rest of 1st year to 3rd year: up to £1,500

4th-6th year: up to £2,000

No

Same as TSB

Lloyds

Same as Bank of Scotland

Same as Bank of Scotland

Up to 2% annually for any money up to £5,000 in your account

Same as Bank of Scotland

Halifax

Same as Bank of Scotland

Same as Bank of Scotland

0.5% on any money in your account

Same as Bank of Scotland

Nationwide FlexStudent

None

1st year: up to £1,000

2nd year: up to £2,000

3rd year and beyond: up to £3,000

No

18+

Unconditional offer or conditional offer that you’ve now successfully got the grades for on a full-time UCAS course that lasts two or more years

Starting your course within five months or currently in first year

You have to pay in at least £500 per term (this can be your maintenance loan)

HSBC

None

Same as Nationwide

No

18+

You have a confirmed place at a UK university or college for a qualifying course - see their website for more info on qualifying courses

If you’re returning to do a postgrad or secondary degree that’s longer than a year, you must have completed an undergraduate degree within the past three years

The Co-operative Bank

None

1st year: up to £1,400

2nd year: up to £1,700

3rd year and beyond: up to £2,000

No

18+

You have a confirmed place on a full-time course that’s at least two years long - see their website for the list of accepted course types

*Did you know: you can also get a discount on your Perlego subscription with our app!

 

Student bank accounts: things to bear in mind

Budgeting is key

And this can be hard.

There are lots of temptations to spend your money on. You get your maintenance loan in three instalments (unless you’re in Scotland), rather than being paid monthly as you would be with a salary, making it harder to spread out your money. And this might be the first time you’re managing your own money.

While learning to budget won’t fix all your money problems, it’ll go a long way to helping you feel confident with your finances.

Check out our ultimate guide to student budgeting for our top tips.

 

Think about the overall costs and benefits of each account

Some rewards can seem really appealing when you’re comparing student bank accounts.

These shiny objects might look good at first - but weigh up everything the account has to offer to see if it’s the best account for you.

Think about whether the student account will serve your wants and needs across the 3+ years of your course, not just your first year. And whether the benefits of the account match your lifestyle and what you spend money on.

Don’t eat out a lot? Then an account that offers discounts on meals out will be less appealing.

We’ve got more detail on this in our ultimate guide to student banking.

 

If I’m not happy with my student account - can I switch?

If you pick one then realise you don’t like it that much - you might be able to switch.

Some accounts, though, are only open to first-year students, so you might not be able to switch to them if you’re not in the first year of your studies.

There can also be other requirements when it comes to switching. Check out our blog about switching student bank accounts to learn more and see if it would be worth it for you.

 

UK international student bank accounts

Been here for more than three years? Great! You should be able to apply for one.

HSBC do offer a separate bank account specifically for international students too. This doesn’t have the same benefits as their UK student account but could be worth checking out.

Otherwise, you can usually apply for a standard, non-student current account instead. Meaning you’ll be able to get a UK bank account - but you’ll miss out on the student-specific benefits.

 

So what’s the answer?

Which UK bank account is the best? It’s hard to say.

But with the info above, you can make the most informed choice, compare student bank accounts and choose the best one for you.

Remember to check out our ultimate guide to student banking for the complete rundown of everything you need to know.

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