Students already resident in the UK
Information for UK-resident students on setting up a student bank account
Am I considered "resident" in the UK?
In the context of student bank accounts the term 'UK resident' usually refers to someone who has been living in the UK for at least three years prior to opening the bank account.
This may vary from bank to bank however, so if you've only moved to the UK in the last couple of years it would be worthwhile to check which bank accounts you are eligible for. This information should be available on the website of each bank in the section discussing the conditions of the student bank account.
What is the difference between a student bank account and a normal bank account?
The main difference between student accounts and normal (a.k.a. 'current') accounts is the overdraft facility. An overdraft works like a 0% interest loan, and basically allows you to withdraw more money from your bank account than you actually have, without being charged (via interest) for doing so.
- For example, if you have a £500 overdraft on your bank account and have £10 deposited in the account, then you can still withdraw up to £510 even though you technically only own £10. Your balance will read as '-£500,' but you can keep it like that as long as you like (while you're still a student) without getting charged.
An important point to rememember is that you will be charged a fee if you withdraw more than your overdraft: for instance, if you had a £500 overdraft and and the balance of your account was £10, but you withdrew £1000.
An overdraft can be useful for when finances might be tight between payments (whether payments from a loan, grant or wages). Some student accounts allow overdrafts of up to £3,000, but this depends on the bank.
Banks can often offer additional perks attached to a student bank account; these might be for example a free railcard or National Union of Students card .The overdraft facility and fees for overdrawing your account are the most important aspects of a student bank account to pay attention to however, so choose wisely even if the other freebies are attractive. Banks will advertise the perks and details of their student bank accounts on their websites. Many UK websites such as Save the Student and Student Money Saver compare different student bank accounts.
Important points to remember:
An overdraft isn’t free money: once you graduate or otherwise stop being a student the overdraft facility will stop and you will have to repay any negative balance on your account.
If you go over your agreed overdraft, the resulting charges can build up very quickly – avoid this at all costs!
If you find yourself in financial difficulty come and see the Student Association's The Advice Place or the University Scholarships and Student Funding department as soon as you can.
Comparing banks, accounts and requirements
Many aspects of opening a student bank account will vary from bank to bank. These aspects include details such as:
- The type of bank account available to you in terms of overdraft, fees, charges and additional perks
- The type of documentation required to present in the branch (e.g. passport, letter of study offer from the University, proof of address)
- The length of time expected to get the bank account fully set up
Many UK websites such as Save the Student and Student Money Saver compare different student bank accounts.
How long will it take?
Some accounts can be opened during just one appointment in the bank branch, others take longer, varying from bank to bank and the type of account you open. Remember to enquire from each bank how long it normally takes, but be prepared for the process to take up to two weeks. Preparing all the necessary documentation will help things proceed as quick as possible.