Opening a Student Bank Account

8th December 2023 Matthew Fox Finance

The lead-up to your first day at university is filled with excitement, anticipation, and maybe a few nerves. Let’s face it: You will likely be leaving home for the first time, moving to a new city to learn about a topic you enjoy the most. What’s more, your imagination will run wild with the thoughts of the new people you’ll meet, societies to join and all of life’s possibilities.

With all this running through your mind, opening a student bank account may be missed off the checklist. Opening a student bank account is a recommended task to complete before arriving at university. This guide will show you how to open a student bank account and advise you on what you should consider throughout the process.

Why Do I Need to Open a Student Bank Account?

Whilst you don’t need to open a student bank account, having one will give you exclusive benefits only available to students. What’s more, these bank accounts are designed to help students fund their education, giving you peace of mind so that you can focus on those assignments.

So, what are the reasons why students should open a student bank account?

  • 0% interest overdraft for each year of your course
  • Exclusive student discounts and offers
  • Access to saving advice and tools for students

A student bank account gives you a financial safety net as a student and reduces any anxiety you may have whilst at university, allowing you to focus on what’s most important.

towers of coins lead towards a jar filled with coins, topped with a graduation cap. The background is a green garden and bricks.

When Should I Open a Student Bank Account?

There is no specific deadline for opening a student bank account, but we advise opening an account before your first year. Some banks allow you to open a student account after receiving an unconditional offer, but the very best time would be to open an account once you have accepted a place at the university of your choice. Banks tend to offer the best student account deals in August when students receive confirmation letters. So it is worth hanging on even if you have a place confirmed before A-level results day.

Opening a student bank account before you arrive at university not only helps reduce any stresses but also prevents delays in student finance payments, meaning that you can arrive at university knowing you can afford to pay for accommodation, course resources and those freshers’ week activities.

Want to know what else you should organise before going to university? See our freshers’ week checklist.

How to Open a Student Bank Account?

So, how do you open a student bank account? There are a few steps, but it doesn’t take a considerable amount of time, and once you have chosen your account, the bank will do all the hard work. Here is a summary of what you need to do:

  1. Research your options to find the best student bank account for you
  2. Gather the required documents
  3. Apply for your student bank account online or in the branch
  4. Verify your details
  5. Receive your account details

1. Research Your Options

Choosing the best student bank account depends on where you are studying and what you need most whilst at university. Considerations you need to make when choosing a student bank account include:

  • Overdraft limit – Banks will offer students different arranged overdraft limits depending on the study year. For example, a bank may offer a £1,500 0% overdraft for your first year but will increase this limit to £2,000 or more in years 2+. It is also essential to check if the overdraft is guaranteed for the years you are studying and that the limit is within your budget, as banks will penalise you if you exceed the limit.
  • Cash incentives – Some bank accounts will deposit money in your new student account as a reward for joining. Bank accounts can give new student account holders as much as £100 just for applying.
  • Discounts and offers – It is also handy to check what offers a bank account gives to students who apply for their student bank account. Some banks offer free railcards or subscriptions to discount cards and free perks.

For more information on where to find the best student account, see guides such as the Money Saving Expert.

2. Gather the Required Documents.

Making sure you have the correct information you need to apply for a student bank account will make the process much easier and means that banks can accept your application quickly. This includes:

  • Proof of identity – This can be either your passport or your driver’s license
  • Proof of address – Found on a utility bill or, in the most likely case for students, a previous bank statement.
  • Proof of student status – Your UCAS status code or a confirmation letter from your chosen university will show the bank that you will be attending and for how long.

Suppose you are an international student who hasn’t lived in the UK for over three years. In that case, this process may be slightly different, as you must apply for an international student bank account or a regular current account in the UK.

3. Apply for Your Student Bank Account Online or In The Branch

Now that you have chosen the bank you want to apply with and have all the necessary documents, it is time to complete the application process.

You can apply for a student account online by visiting the bank’s website, where you will find the application forms. You can apply using the bank’s app if you choose a bank account from your current provider.

Some banks require you to visit the branch, of which you may need an appointment. By visiting your branch, you can ask any questions about your new student bank account, and a staff member will be able to help you complete the application forms.

4. Verify Your Details

As your new student bank account, the bank must complete a credit check and verify all your documents. This may take a few days, so opening a student account in good time before you arrive at university is useful.

5. Receive Your Account Details

Your application is complete once your bank has checked your documents and approved your credit score, and you can use your student bank account once you receive your new debit card. The most important step now is to update your banking students with student finance. This will ensure that you will receive your student loan payments in time and reduce any worry there may be paying for your accommodation.

So now you have opened a student bank account, you are ready to focus on studying, making new friends and creating memories. Although you have an overdraft with your new student bank account, creating a budget will be the best way to make the most out of your new account and create good money-saving habits. Our guide on budgeting at university has plenty of tips you need to make the most out of your student bank account. If you are after more savings, take a look at the list of discount cards available for students.

Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox

For more great posts from Urbanest about accommodation, London life, study tips and much more, visit the Student Journal.