Student Banking Survey 2016: Results

Whether you’re about to start university or heading back for more, it’s time to crunch the numbers that count! Here’s how UK banks stack up for students.

More than 1,500 of you answered our Student Banking Survey 2016 to give us the highs and hells of customer service, borrowing and bank charges – thank you!

Read on to see how your bank compares, whether you can get a better deal, or if you’re missing a trick or two…

Choosing the right bank account

How do students choose their accounts?

We asked students to tell us what prompted them to plump for their main account – and the results were pretty surprising. Why? Because despite most mainstream advice against picking an account just because you already bank there, nearly half of you do just that.

We also found an almost even split between choosing an account for its 0% overdraft (which lets you borrow emergency cash for free) and because friends and family banked there. And, contrary to the perception that students are always glued to their gadgets, almost a third of you say you pick your bank because of physical location.


1 in 3 of you also told us you don’t have a student account at all, preferring to rely on bog-standard banking instead. While that can work in your favour if you’re on top of your scratch, ditching student accounts when you’re eligible means losing out on the perks of free borrowing, freebies and flexibility.

If you just don’t know where to start, head over to the best student bank accounts to pick yourself a winner!

Are students savvy about switching?

There are good banking deals out there, and then there are duds – but, whichever you’ve got right now, how actively are you looking for better offers?

Well, a staggering 82% of you say you aren’t looking to trade. If that’s because you’ve got the best of the bunch, good for you! If not, you could be missing out on the free money triple-decker: 0% overdraft, interest on positive balances, plus freebies to boot.

Reckon switching is too complicated? It’s not: it takes less time to switch online than it does to whip up an essay.

Student comments:

How satisfied are students with their bank?

Having tackled how you lot pick-and-switch accounts, we wanted to know how you really rate your bank. The results here were surprising – but in a good way! The majority of banks featured in our survey get the student seal of approval, scoring at least 4 out of 5 for satisfaction.

Santander just comes out in pole position this year (up from second place last year), with Nationwide and Halifax incredibly close behind.

Bank Score - Flattened

Remember that if you’re not satisfied with your bank, you don’t need to take it lying down: you need to speak up! Our guide to complaining the right way can help you sort it.

What are the most popular banks with students?

We have a winner! Almost a third of our survey (28%) told us they bank with Santander. As the bank you lot also rated the highest, Santander appear to be doing something right when it comes to winning hearts (and your cash). They’re followed by HSBC (14%) and Natwest and Barclays (11% each).


Student comments:

Student borrowing

With a worrying 70% of students saying Student Finance leaves them short every month, that extra cash has to come from somewhere – but it’s not the bank. Two-thirds of you told us you’re not currently overdrawn, while the one-third living on borrowed cash are overdrawn by £500 or less.


Used the right way, overdrafts are cheaper than loans (or charges for accidental borrowing!), and can make it easier to manage debt: full deets in our guide to student overdrafts. Either way, get your hands on free top-up funding too.

Student comments:

What do you think: does your bank help you out or take you for a ride? Share your tips, tactics or warnings below!

Need extra info? You’ll find everything you need to know about managing your money at university in our free eBook – download it right here.

About the Student Banking Survey 2016