Guide to student bank accounts in the UK

Which is the best student bank account in the UK? Compare what each bank is offering with this comprehensive table 

August 24 2017
Woman gets money out of cashpoint

If you are heading to university in the UK this autumn, you will likely need to set up a student bank account. Even if you already have a bank account, it is still worth setting up a student account as you may be able to receive a few free perks to help you out while at university. 

Compiled using information from Which? University, the table below compares the different student bank accounts offered by major UK banks so that you can pick the one that works for you. 

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 Bank  Min age Interest free (0 per cent) overdraft Benefits 
    Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6 Credit interest Freebies
HSBC Student 18 £3,000 £3,000 £3,000 £3,000 £3,000 £3,000    
NatWest/RBS Student 17 £2,000 £2,000 £2,000 £2,000 £2,000 n/a   Four-year National Express Coachcard 
First Trust Bank (NI)Student+ 18 £1,850 £1,850 £1,850 n/a n/a n/a    
Halifax Student 18 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 0.1 per cent Cashback at various retailers
Bank of Ireland 
18 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £2,000 £3,000 £3,000 0.5 per cent  
Bank of Scotland 
17 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £2,000 £2,000 £2,000   Cashback at various retailers
Lloyds Bank Student 17 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £2,000 £2,000 £2,000   Cashback at various retailers
Santander 123 
18 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,800 £2,000 n/a 1 per cent (£100-£200),
2 per cent (£200-£300), 
3 per cent (£300-£2,000)
Four-year 16-25 Railcard 
TSB Student  17 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 £1,500 5 per cent (up to £500)  
Barclays Student
18 £1,000 £2,000 £3,000 n/a n/a n/a   Personalised (photo) debit card; cashback at various retailers
18 £1,000 £2,000 £3,000 £3,000 £3,000 £3,000 1 per cent (up to £1,000) Cashback at various retailers
Ulster Bank Student 18 £1,000 £1,000 £1,000 £1,000 £1,000 n/a    

As shown in the table above, a few banks offer perks such as free travel cards or cashback at various retailers. It's always worth considering how much you will be travelling while at university as these travel cards could save you some money in the long-term. 

Something else that is important to note is the interest-free overdraft that is offered. An overdraft is where a bank allows flexible overspending up to a certain amount, which is then repaid when money is deposited into the account. If an overdraft is offered interest-free it means that banks will not charge you unless you spend outside of this agreed limit. The table above breaks down the interest-free overdraft options per year for each bank. 

If you do start spending money outside of your overdraft or you think you may need to borrow more money from your bank, have a discussion with them about the options available to you. 

Some of the banks, such as Santander and Natwest, impose conditions on the bank account in order to be eligible for the interest-free overdraft so make sure you are aware of which banks do and don’t impose these. 

Read more: Tips for managing money when you have budgeting blues 

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