Students who are already resident in the UK
In this section, you will find useful 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.
However, this may vary from bank to bank, so if you've only moved to the UK in the last couple of years, it is worth checking 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.
Comparing banks, accounts and requirements
Certain aspects of opening a student bank account vary from bank to bank, including:
- the type of bank account available to you in terms of an overdraft, fees, charges and additional perks
- the type of documentation required to present in the branch (for example, 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 compare different student bank accounts, including:
Setting up a bank account online
Due to Covid-19, some banks are offering opportunities to open a bank account without going into a branch.
- Bank of Scotland Student Current Account
- Barclays Student Additions Account
- RBS Student Bank Account
- TSB Student Bank Account
Difference between a student bank account and a normal bank account
The main difference between student accounts and normal or, 'current' accounts is the overdraft facility. An overdraft works like a 0% interest loan and allows you to withdraw more money from your bank account than you actually have, without being charged (interest) for doing so.
An overdraft can be useful for when finances might be tight between payments (whether payments from a loan, grant or wages). Most banks will offer overdrafts with a pre-agreed limit. Some student bank accounts offer tiered overdraft amounts, which increase with each year of study, so you could end up with a bigger overdraft limit after your first year.
Banks can often offer additional perks attached to a student bank account, such as a free Railcard or National Union of Students card. Banks will advertise the perks and details of their student bank accounts on their websites.
The overdraft facility and fees for overdrawing your account are the most important aspects of a student bank account to pay attention to. Choose wisely even if the other freebies are attractive.
Important points to remember
An overdraft is not 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 you will be charged a fee. The resulting charges can build up very quickly - avoid this at all costs.
If you find yourself in financial difficulty, do not hesitate to seek help as soon as you can:
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 with 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 quickly as possible.