Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

The best value deals, products and services for new university students

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Starting university may be exciting but it isn’t cheap. With that in mind, a consumer champion is highlighting a selection of best value deals, services and products to help students get the most cost-effective start to their university lives.

From laptops and frying pans to headphones and electric blankets, new university students, starting in September, will be shelling out on a whole raft of items. Consumer champion Which? has compiled a list of the best value deals and products to help freshers stay in black when they get to campus.

The best bank accounts

Choosing the right bank account is an important first step for any student. According to Which?, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) both offer a £100 incentive for signing up with them. They also offer a four-year Tastecard membership worth £34.99, which provides discounts on meals, cinema tickets and shopping.

Which? also found that other banks including Halifax, Nationwide, Lloyds and HSBC match the £100 offer for new account holders.

Meanwhile Santander offer a free railcard for four years, which grants a discount of a third of the price of rail travel. The card costs £30 per year or £70 over the period of three years.

Typically student bank accounts give students interest free overdrafts. Which? found that Nationwide, HSBC, NatWest and RBS offered the best deals, with accounts that offer £3,000 interest-free overdrafts by the third year of study.

However, students should be aware that they might not get the maximum overdraft limit, as most banks will assess eligibility on an individual basis. Also loans which are initially interest free usually begin to charge interest two years after graduation.

Great value laptops

Which? said that between £200 and £400 should be enough for a student to spend on a laptop, for research purposes and creating text documents. Some of the models that are recommended include the Acer Spin 311 CP311-3H which costs £209 and scored 69% in the Which? tests for assessing a laptop performance.

The Acer Swift 1 SF114-34 also impressed, scoring 71% in the function tests. It is priced at £389, but is often on offer for less than £300. The model was also complemented for its long battery life. Another high-performing laptop is the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 14-inch Gen 8, which also scored 71% in the Which? tests. But it is a more costly model as it is typically priced at £449. It has a good battery life, and users will get six hours of power for a 30 minute charge.

Finally, the Asus Vivobook 16X impressed thanks to its speedy performance due to its six-core AMD processor and generous 16GB of ram. It also scored 71% in the Which? trials, and costs £479.

Top deals for everyday items

Which? also advised where students can pick up some great deals for everyday living. For cooking items, the campaign group recommended  Dunelm’s Essentials stainless steel frying pan, priced at £9.80, which has an easy to clean non-stick surface. The George Foreman 25810 Small Fit Grill priced at £23.73 from Amazon is an affordable (and healthier) option.

Which? also tested several hand blenders, and found that the best one was the Braun MQ100 hand blender from Robert Dyas costing £25.

To save on heating bills students could turn to the Comfort Control Electric Underblanket from SilentNight to keep warm without turning the heating on. The blanket is £35 and costs just 3p an hour to run.

Be wary of deals offered

Which? also warned students to be on the lookout for deals that are just too good to be true. It’s worth doing your due diligence to ensure that any promotional deals are actually genuine. In some cases products can be promoted that are more expensive than their previous price.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? home products and services editor, said: “Whether it’s kitchen appliances or a laptop, it’s crucial that those heading to university this autumn are properly kitted out. Perks on bank accounts, like railcards, could save students precious pounds throughout their time at university.”

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