Hand holding out a blue debit card

If you are off to uni this year, one of the things you might like to consider - and you might never have thought of before - is opening a student bank account. Compared to the bank account that you might already have, student bank accounts often offer you a number of benefits, such as a free railcard, alongside a student overdraft. You can only have one student account open at a time. 

You might also be able to receive a credit card alongside your debit card, which is great if you have to book train fares or if you are thinking of going on holiday, and if you can show that you can manage your money sensibly it will do wonders to your credit rating. 

To apply for a student bank account you'll need to have been a resident in the UK for the last 3 years. You'll also need to confirm that you are a student, either through your UCAS confirmation of place letter (usually issued after your A Level or Higher results during August) along with your UCAS Track profile once your place is confirmed. If you don’t have this, a letter from your university or college confirming your place is good. You'll also need proof of your identity, such as a passport or driver’s license. Once your account is opened, you'll also have to deposit some money into it. 

Here are some of the top student bank accounts currently out there, along with their perks: 


Benefits - £80 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card plus a year of Amazon Prime benefits for first year students. They also offer exclusive student offers and discounts, for example 20% off coach travel.

0% Overdraft - An automatic overdraft of at least £1,000 and a maximum overdraft of £3,000 (the biggest out there!), however this is judged on a case-by-case basis and it’s often only up to £1,000 by the end of the year. 

Saving - A regular saver account of a maximum of £250 a month and £3,000 overall can be opened with an interest rate of 3% AER.

Credit card - With up to £500 credit available.

Unarranged overdraft fee - None.

Overdraft setup fee - None.

Eligibility - You cannot open or switch to this account if you're past your first year of study. You can only apply if you've an unconditional place at university, or you're already a student. You need to have been a resident of the UK or Channel Islands for the last 3 years. You can also take out an HSBC student bank account if you are starting an apprenticeship. 

Overdraft interest - All debit balances are free from overdraft interest.

Get it - If you think you'll get the £3,000 and you need it, or you think you'll have a decent sum of money in you current account so you can save yourself a bit of money along the way. 

See https://www.hsbc.co.uk/current-accounts/products/student/ for more information.

Lloyds & Bank of Scotland

Benefits - Everyday Offers lets you earn up to 15% cashback using offers at the the of places you regularly shop. Their app also lets you organise your money, so you know where you are spending it, while text alerts tell you when you are running low.

0% overdraft - Overdraft of up to £1,500. In your first year of study you could get up to £500 for the first six months, and up to £1,000 in months seven to nine. From month 10 until the end of your third year you can get up to £1,500. If you’re studying on a course that is longer than three years, you can request to increase it to £2,000 from year four onwards, should you need it.

Eligibility - Studying for a full-time course that lasts for a minimum of two years or be on a one-year access course leading onto a full-time degree.

Unarranged overdraft fee - 1p a day for every £7 that you borrow.

Get it - If you want to keep track of your money and work out where it's being spent. 

See https://www.bankofscotland.co.uk/assets/pdf/bankaccounts/pdf/student-welcome-pack.pdf and https://www.lloydsbank.com/assets/media/pdfs/current-accounts/student_account_welcome_pack.pdf for more information.

Natwest & RBS

Benefits - a coach travel card which offers a third off coach travel for four years. 

0% overdraft - Up to £500 in your first term and £2000 after your first term.  

Eligibility - To apply, you must be living in the UK and either completing a full-time undergraduate course that lasts at least 2 years, a full-time post-graduate course, or training as a nurse at a UK university or college of higher education.

Overdraft usage fee - None

Overdraft fee - No unarranged or arranged overdraft usage fees

Interest - No interest paid if you are in credit. 

Unpaid transaction fee - £6 per transaction

Get it - If you are travelling home a lot by coach.

See https://personal.rbs.co.uk/personal/current-accounts/student_account.html?intcam=PC_HP-P1-DEF-UnKnown1-DEF and https://personal.natwest.com/personal/current-accounts/student_account.html for more information.

Ulster bank

Benefits - commision free travel money

0% overdraft - up to £1000 for the majority of students and up to £3000 for certain degrees such as medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, law, accountancy and pharmacy. 

Credit card - with a credit limit of £350.

Eligibility - UK residents aged 18 or over, in a full-time third level course which lasts at least two and no longer than five years.

Get it - if you think you are going to be spending your student years jetsetting!

See https://digital.ulsterbank.co.uk/personal/overdrafts/student-overdrafts.html for more information.

An example of British notes and coins


Benefits - Santander offer a free 4-year 16-25 Railcard, worth about £100, which saves you a third off rail travel in the UK. 

0% Overdraft - Up to £1,500 in years 1-3, then up to £2,000 if you stay on to year 5. 

Arranged overdraft set up fee - £0

Interest - 3% AER on balances from £300 up to a maximum of £2,000

Unarranged overdraft usage fee - £5 per day

Eligibility - When you open your account you'll get an Arranged Overdraft limit of £250 once you have provided proof that you are a student. To increase this you need to pay in £500 a month and continue to pay in at least £500 per academic term. This account is also available to apprentices sudying at levels 4-7.

Get it - If you are likely to remain in credit and travel a lot by train as the interest and the railcard add up to a lot. 

For more information, please see - https://www.santander.co.uk/uk/current-accounts/student-graduate-current-accounts/123-student-current-account


0% Overdraft - You can received £500 in your first six months and then apply to increase it to £1,000 in months seven to nine and from month ten up to £1,500.

Eligibility - You must be studying for a full-time course that lasts for a minimum of two years or be on a one year access course leading onto a full-time degree.

Interest - 5% AER interest on balances up to £500.

Arranged overdraft set up fee - £0

Unarranged overdraft usage fee - £6 per month

Unarranged overdraft interest - 8.21% EAR

Get it - If you're likely to be in credit by a small amount and would like to benefit from the interest paid on this balance.

For more information, please see - https://www.tsb.co.uk/current-accounts/student-bank-account/.


Benefits - You can earn cashback from retailers such as Apple, Nike, Amazon, Oasis, Boots, Topshop and Waterstones through their SmartSpend service, as well as cash back when booking through Expedia. Free text alerts let you know when you are almost at your limit.

0% Overdraft - You can apply for a £500 overdraft when you open your account, which you can increase up to £3,000 over the course of your studies depending on your circumstances.

Eligibility - Studying for an undergraduate qualification for at least 2 academic years full time or post-graduate for 1 year or more

Unarranged overdraft usage fee - £1 per month if you go over £2,000

Buffer - £15

Get it - If you plan on spending money and would benefit from gaining cashback.

For more information, please see - https://www.barclays.co.uk/current-accounts/student-account/