Save, make, understand money


The best student bank accounts in 2023: Cash offers, tastecards and 0% overdrafts

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

A number of banks are luring in new student customers with cold hard cash this year – while others are competing on the interest-free overdraft available.

To open a student account, you normally need to be aged at least 17 or 18 and have received a confirmed place at university or other higher education course such as an apprenticeship.

You’ll also need proof of address and proof of your identity. Most banks will also need to see your UCAS code or confirmation letter with an unconditional offer or, if your offer’s conditional, A-level results that meet that condition.

James Daley, managing director of Fairer Finance, said: “There are always lots of great freebies on offer when you’re looking for a new student bank account – but these shouldn’t be the only factor when making your decision on who to go with. Most people end up staying with their bank for many years after uni, so it may be worth passing over some of the most attractive deals in favour of a bank with a great record on customer service.”

Here’s what’s on offer to students this year…

NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland

NatWest and RBS are offering every student opening an account by 30 November £100 in cash which is paid within 10 working days of account opening. The two banking brands are also giving new student customers a four-year tastecard (worth £39.99) which offers discounts on meals, cinema tickets and shopping.

First year students can apply for an overdraft of up to £2,000, although they will only be able to access £500 of this in the first term. A maximum interest-free overdraft of up to £3,250 will be available from October for students in their third year of study.

These interest-free overdrafts are the highest on offer to students this year, so if you think you’ll need to borrow money to survive university, NatWest or RBS are the ones to consider.


HSBC is also offering £100 cash to students opening a student bank account this year. You’ll need to make a minimum of five qualifying transactions using the HSBC debit card linked to the account within 30 days of opening. Students will also get a free subscription to mindfulness app Headspace (worth £7.99 a year) which needs to be redeemed by 31 March 2024.

First year students will get a guaranteed £1,000 interest-free overdraft buffer in the first year, which could increase to £2,000 in the second year and £3,000 in the third year.


Santander isn’t offering cash this year but anyone opening a Santander 1|2|3 student account can get a free four-year 16-25 Railcard (worth £100). This gets you a third off many rail tickets (not valid in Northern Ireland). Note that you’ll be sent a unique code within five working days of the account opening and it is only valid for 60 days from the date of issue so make sure to redeem in time as it can’t be re-issued once expired.

Students can also access Santander Boosts which offers cashback and rewards at retailers.

Santander student customers will also benefit from a definite £1,500 0% overdraft in years one to three, provided you pay in a minimum of £500 each term (every four months). This rises to £1,800 in year four of study and £2,000 in year five.


Nationwide is offering £100 cash for a limited time to students opening a FlexStudent account on or after 1 August, as long as £500 is deposited by 15 December 2023. The cash will then be added within 14 days.

Students with Nationwide can apply for an up to £1,000 interest-free overdraft in the first year, up to £2,000 in the second year, and a maximum of £3,000 in the third year.

Lloyds/Bank of Scotland

Students banking with Lloyds or Bank of Scotland can net £100 cashback if they deposit at least £500 by 31 October 2023. The cash will then be paid by 30 November.

For both brands, students can also apply for an interest-free tiered arranged overdraft of up to £1,500 in years one to three and up to £2,000 in years four to six.

You can also get up to 15% cashback with ‘Everyday Offers’ when using your Visa debit card at selected retailers.

Lloyds will also pay 2% AER (1.98% gross) interest on balances up to and including £5,000, though this offer isn’t available for BOS applicants.


Students banking with Halifax can get £100 when opening the current account (online or in branch) and depositing at least £500 by 31 October. The cash will then be paid into the student account by the end of November.

Students can also apply for an interest-free arranged overdraft up to £1,500 for the length of their course, plus three years after graduation.

There is also up to 15% cashback available with Cashback Extras and it offers 0.5% interest on credit balances.


There are no freebies for students from Barclays this year and the overdraft is nothing to shout about either.

Students can apply for an interest-free overdraft of £1,000 in the first year (£500 in the first term). After that the maximum 0% interest overdraft is £1,500.


TSB isn’t offering students much either. There is a guaranteed 0% interest overdraft of £500 for the first six months, then up to £1,000 in months seven to nine, and up to £1,500 from month 10. Other than that, students can earn 5% interest on up to £500.

Related: BLOG: ‘I switched bank account after 30 years and I have no regrets’