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Student bank accounts: top picks

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

The summer holidays may have just begun, but a host of banks have launched their student account offerings. Here are the deals to note for 2018 university starters.

If you’re preparing to start university in September, now is the 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 a number of years.

The best account for you depends on how much you expect to borrow 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 worth noting that some student account discounts or cashback perks can be useful to those who shop for essential supplies or eat out with friends. Some accounts, such as HSBC’s, will also give students a free year of Amazon Prime, along with an £80 voucher.

“Halifax and Santander currently offer students a £1,500 interest-free overdraft from day one, which can be a lifeline to cash-poor students who have yet to generate income through part-time work. The best account isn’t always with the branch on campus either, so it’s important to compare deals carefully. If students have a history with debt, it’s worth getting a credit check first, as the advertised overdraft limits are not guaranteed.”

If you know you’ll be travelling a lot during your university course, an account that offers a travel pass could work out as the best option for you. For instance, Santander offers a free Railcard to those aged 16-25, helping you save a third on most rail fares.

With NatWest and RBS, students get a free Young Persons Coachcard, valid for four years, while for those travelling abroad, Nationwide’s debit card doesn’t charge for using it overseas.

The table below lists the account incentives offered to students:


Springall added: “Clearly, there are many different perks between accounts and not one will necessarily meet every desire. However, the most lucrative will depend on a student’s financial expectations of either using an overdraft or being in credit, how often they expect to travel, or if they favour cashback or freebies.

“When students come to the end of their course and graduate, they shouldn’t assume their current student account provider is the best choice by default for a graduate account, and it is at this stage they should prioritise paying off any overdraft they have amassed through the years.”