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Free railcard or Amazon Prime subscription: Top pick student bank accounts

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

The coronavirus is expected to derail university plans for thousands of students. But for those starting this autumn, here are the high street bank account offerings.

If you’re preparing to start university from September, now is the perfect time to research and open a student account rather than leaving it until the last minute.

Student accounts come with a host of different incentives and freebies to entice you in because banks know many people are apathetic when it comes to switching accounts. If they can get you as a customer while you’re studying, there’s a good chance you’ll be with them for years to come.

The best account for you depends on how much you expect to borrow (go into an overdraft) and the benefits you feel are essential to you. If an incentive isn’t used, it could be a waste.

Rachel Springall, finance expert at data site Moneyfacts, said: “It’s a wise move for students to weigh up any perks that may be on offer with the interest-free overdraft that the account carries. During the years of study, a generous interest-free limit would provide students with a financial safety net and at the moment Halifax and Santander offer up to £1,500 from the outset of year one.

“Those looking to save on travel will find Santander offering a free Railcard and those who pick NatWest can opt for a coach card.

“Depending on where students decide to spend, they could find cashback offers on some accounts.”

The table below lists the account incentives offered to students for 2020:

Springall added that students would be wise to consider discussing their financial situation with family or friends if they feel anxious.

“But they can also contact their bank if they need support too either in branch, online or by phone. It is quick and easy to open an account and students will need to provide a copy of their acceptance letter to the bank or building society,” she said.

Another point to note for students is that the overdraft will need to be paid once you’ve left education, so it is “unwise to overindulge”. Instead, they should be used sparingly.

Lastly, consider gadget insurance if you’ll be living away from home as it can cover damage or theft of your vital electronics such as laptop, tablet or smartphone.