Choosing the right student account can be a minefield… but not with our detailed comparison on what all the banks have to offer students in 2019/20!
First we’ll take you through the important things to look out for when choosing a bank, then review and compare the best student accounts this year in a clear comparison table.
What is a student account?
A student account is designed exclusively for university students. They are based on the standard accounts offered by banks, however students are also treated to benefits including freebies and interest-free overdrafts.
5 tips for choosing a top student bank account
Beware of the student bank account “freebies”
There’s plenty on offer this year but don’t be seduced by freebies! Offers including free products, insurance, cashback rewards and other “exclusive” deals may sound tempting but you need to be smart.
A student bank account offering free MP3 downloads worth £20 is pitiful compared to a large interest-free overdraft for 3 years or more…
Go for the largest student overdraft
An arranged overdraft is a common way of borrowing money through your current account. The best thing about a student account is that money borrowed through an overdraft has 0% interest. With an interest-free overdraft you pay back nothing more than what you borrow. This is unique to student bank accounts, so take full advantage of it!
Even if you don’t feel like you need the full overdraft, still apply for it then take some of it out (interest-free) to pump up your savings account.
Now you’re playing the system! You actually make money by earning interest on the borrowed money whilst you’re a student. We’re not talking mega-bucks, but for something so easy to do, it’s not a bad return!
Beware that the 0% interest period is not forever! It only lasts a certain number of years after you graduate before interest charges set in. You’ll need to starting paying up before you start getting screwed by higher repayments.
Is the overdraft “up to” or “guaranteed”?
The advertised student 0% interest overdraft is often the maximum they offer (hence the “up to” wording). For many banks, this amount is only available in your final year at university and only to students with a decent credit rating (see below).
Our comparison below of the best student accounts considers the likelihood of you receiving the full amount from each bank.
Know the repayment conditions
Sure, you probably won’t have to repay your overdraft until after you graduate, but the sudden demand for £3,000 could be quite a shock!
So don’t treat it as free money and plan ahead, which starts with understanding the conditions.
Most banks automatically turn your student account into a graduate bank account which deals with repaying your overdraft over a certain period.
Know your credit rating
Student account overdrafts are a form of borrowing, so you’ll be credit scored when applying. The quality of your score can determine how much overdraft you’ll be offered. You can raise your chances of approval by knowing your own credit score and taking steps to improve it.
Start by getting a free credit score from Experian, the largest agency used by banks.
What do you need to open a bank account?
Luckily, there’s not too much! However at the least UK students will be required to show:
Most banks now allow you to apply online for a student bank account, but you will still have to send off supporting documents or take them into your local branch. Documents must be original copies, not photocopies.
Once you’ve opened a new account, be sure to update Student Finance of your new bank account details (you can do it online).
Below are the best student bank accounts for this year, taking into account the interest-free overdraft terms and student satisfaction scores from our latest banking survey.
International student? Click here for our new guide on bank accounts that are open to non-UK students.