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Heading to uni soon? How to pick the best student account for you

·3-min read
Which student bank account is best for you? (Alamy/PA)
Which student bank account is best for you? (Alamy/PA)

Picking a student account can feel quite daunting, especially when there are so many offers being waved in front of you.

Some may offer cash for opening an account, some give discounts or cashback on shopping as an incentive, while others might help you save on travel costs.

Many providers will also revamp their offerings during the summer months, as they know students will be searching for a deal around this time. So, how do you choose the right student account for you?

Firstly, try to work out how you’ll use the account and which perks may be more or less important to you.

“The whole package should be weighed up, to ensure it’s the best choice for an individual,” says Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk.

For example for many students, adds Springall, an interest-free overdraft could be the “most useful” element of the overall package.

While many banks and building societies will offer interest-free overdrafts to students, this could depend on individual circumstances.

Think about how the terms and perks will work for you (Alamy/PA)
Think about how the terms and perks will work for you (Alamy/PA)

Some providers will increase the overdraft facility as you progress through university. For example, HSBC UK offers an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,000 in year one.

You can ask for an increase of up to £2,000 in year two and £3,000 in year three, subject to status and how the account has been used.

If you do end up in the red, it’s also important to have a plan for what will happen to the debt when you graduate.

Graduate accounts may offer a 0% interest overdraft on certain amounts and time periods, giving you some time to clear your student debt without paying interest – although, again, this may be subject to status so make sure you fully understand all the terms that apply to you.

For many students, some extra cash when they open their account would be very welcome.

NatWest and RBS, for example, are offering £80, while HSBC UK and Nationwide Building Society are offering £100, subject to terms and conditions.

If you’re looking to earn some interest on money in your account, TSB is offering 5% on balances up to £500.

And if you’re likely to be forking out a lot on travel, it may also be worth considering that Santander UK has a four-year 16-25 railcard with its student account.

Some accounts offer shopping perks to students.

NatWest and RBS are offering a four-year tastecard to get restaurant and cinema discounts; Santander UK is giving students the chance to earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers; and Lloyds Bank is offering students a free TOTUM card for up to three years, giving access to discounts with high street and online retailers, including at JD Sports, Amazon, Co-op, Apple and Samsung.

Some student account perks are only being offered for a limited time period – so if there’s something that would make or break a deal for you, make sure it’s still available before opening the account.

Once you’ve made your choice, make use of tools in your banking app to help you manage your budget.