What you need to know about opening a student bank account

Ofgad > Blogs > What you need to know about opening a student bank account
EU Student getting advice from student advisor

Excited for your first year at university, college or language school in the UK? We know it may be a little bit scary as you are moving out of your parents’ house and starting a new and very important chapter of your life and you’ll want to be ready and be prepared. One of the first things you’ll have to do, is open a bank account in the UK.

To keep you on the right track, we have prepared an ultimate guide and covered everything you need to know about opening a student bank account.

What accounts are available?
For international students

As an international student, having a UK bank account can be useful for everyday shopping, paying study fees or rent. The best option is to open a “basic bank account” which will allow you to withdraw the money from cash machines, make and receive payments. However, a basic bank account means that you are not eligible for a credit, you don’t get an overdraft or a credit card.

For UK students

Student accounts are meant for higher education students. Like with any other bank account, you are able to get the money in and out, and withdraw cash from ATMs. On top of that, you are given additional perks, like interest-free overdrafts. That means whenever you spend above your set amount, the banks lend money for you to spend with no additional interest to pay. Just remember that you will have to pay it back, so don’t get too comfortable.

Things to look for:

Always ask how much exactly you can overdraft. Banks tend to lure students with generous interest-free overdrafts and it is really convenient benefit to have when you are a student on a tight budget.

Look for the bank that offers the largest student overdraft because you never know when you need it – it is always good to have a back up. Also, don’t get too crazy with overspending and going above your overdraft allowance, the bank may remove it and charge you extra fees.

Bank fees

It is highly recommended to read bank’s charges policy before signing up with the bank. You do not want to get unexpected charges for unauthorized overdraft, taking cash from foreign cash machines. Always read the small print for any additional terms and conditions.


There are plenty of free ATMs around the UK so there should be no problem in taking cash out. However, it is always nice to have a bank nearby if you prefer banking in person. It saves you time and commute time, so you don’t have to drag across the whole city to get to your branch. Most of the students tend to use online banking or an app more, so it is worth exploring bank’s services and see which one meets your needs.


Banks have some perks and benefits for students; however, you should not easily fall for it. Freebies for students may include short-term offers, discounts, cashback rewards – it all sounds appealing but you have to think smart and evaluate the overall bank’s services facilities. After all, there are some discounts that you can simply get with your student ID, so opening a bank account solely because of freebies is not worth it.

What do you need to open a bank account?

Luckily, there’s not too much! However at the least students will be required to show –

  • One or two forms of photo ID: such as a passport or driver’s licence
  • Proof of address: such as a recent utility bill or accommodation agreement
  • Proof of student status: a letter of acceptance or bank letter from your university, college or language school.

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.

Which bank to choose?

Choosing a bank to open a student account can be a nightmare – there’s just too much information and different services to choose from. Compare the best student bank accounts with interest-free or 0% overdrafts for 2019-20 with these comparison tables.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings


  • Your privacy

Your privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site and to show you relevant advertising.

To find out more, read our updated privacy policy and cookie policy.