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Student bank accounts 101

By ResLifeBath 11 Sep 2023

How to open the right account and more.

Whether you're a first-time account opener or need to set up a student-specific account, it can't hurt to know all the basics to get started. In this article, we've compiled all the essential information you'll need, including what documents you'll need and what bank accounts we'd recommend (based on the best benefits).

Why should I open a student account?

To smoothly manage your daily expenses and receive your maintenance loan from student finance, it's essential to have an account tailored to your student lifestyle. Student accounts are specifically designed for this purpose, offering you the most relevant advantages. For example, a student account will usually have an interest-free overdraft so you won't have to fear the months you need to dip into your overdraft. Typically, you'll open a student account just before uni, but you can switch to a student account later at any time.

What documentation will I need to open the account?

In the UK, you'll need to have a few key documents to successfully open your new account. While some banks might request additional paperwork, these are the three things you must have:

  1. A photo ID verifying that you are 18 years or older (such as a passport, driving licence, or EU ID card).
  2. Proof of your current residential address (e.g., a utility bill, bank statement, or tax documentation).
  3. Evidence of your student status (a letter of acceptance from Bath or a UCAS offer). We have a guide on how to get the necessary evidence from Bath.

Do I have to open the account in person?

No, you will have the flexibility to choose between doing it in person or online. So choose whichever way is most convenient for you. Many banks have streamlined their websites to make it as straightforward as possible to complete the application process. Some even allow you to verify your identity by recording a short video and uploading a photo of your passport. Whether you opt for the online or in-person route, ensure that you have the correct documentation (as listed above), and you'll be on the right track.

What are the best student bank accounts?

While most banks offer student accounts, only a select few provide what we'd consider elite benefits. Here are the top choices for the academic year 2023/24 (note: all of the options below have 0% interest rate overdrafts):

  • NatWest - Offers £100 cash, a 4-year tastecard, and an overdraft of up to £2,000 (with £500 available in your first term).
  • Santander - Provides a 4-year 16-25 Railcard and an overdraft of up to £2,000.
  • Nationwide - Presents £100 cash and an overdraft of up to £3,000.
  • HSBC - Offers £100 cash, a 1-year subscription to Headspace, and an overdraft of up to £3,000.

You know everything now to open the right student account for you. For more useful tips and advice, check out our wellbeing page for more articles on a variety of topics.