It’s a very good idea to have a bank account under your own name when you start studying, especially if you have claimed student funding or even for paying bills in general (e.g. rent, utilities, etc.).
Opening a bank account usually takes time and consideration and we recommend doing a bit of research. Remember – you are the customer, and banks are keen for your custom, but they are not all the same and it’s worth finding out more about what they are offering and which bank will best suit your needs.
In this article:
- Which type of account should I choose?
- I’m a Home (UK) student; what’s it like opening a student account?
- I’m an International/EU student; what’s it like opening a student account in the UK?
- How do I prove my identity to open an account?
- I have a complaint/dispute with a bank; what can I do?
- How can I improve my understanding of banking and financial services?
Which type of account should I choose?
Many students opt for a Student Bank Account from a high street bank although there are a number of internet bank accounts tailored to students. Students are often interested in getting a Student Bank Account because it comes with an overdraft and may have other rewards. A Student Bank Account is a 'current account'.
Many students choose to have a savings account as well as their current account, so that they can allocate a monthly budget to their current account which covers all their costs. This helps to reduce the temptation to spend all your funding at once.
If you’re not interested in having an overdraft or other financial products, a Basic Bank Account may be all you need. The Money Advice Service has a really useful comparison table which can help you to decide which bank to open an account with.
Important to know: International students probably won't be able to open accounts packaged as 'student accounts' and should look for basic accounts instead.
I’m a Home (UK) student; what’s it like opening a student account?
Many high street banks market student bank account packages to home students - they want to draw you in at the beginning of your studies in the hope that you will remain loyal to them when you graduate.
Some banks offer freebies, discounts, cash back and special terms on their overdrafts. Always shop around for what suits your 'needs' and don’t be drawn in by a flashy gimic. The Money Saving Expert and Save the Student publish an annual review of what the banks have to offer, this might be a good place to start your search.
I’m an International/EU student; what’s it like opening a student account in the UK?
International and EU students are often offered a 'basic bank account' or an 'international student bank account'; the latter may charge for certain facilities. If you have lived in the UK for some time you may be able to open a standard student bank account.
You can check the Money Advice Service to find out more about your banking options and what documents you will need in order to open an account.
We also advise that you read our article - Opening a UK bank account as an international student which provides more in-depth guidance if you from overseas.
Always shop around for what suits your ‘need’ and don’t be drawn in by a flashy gimic! Bear in mind what you need to use the account for, so for example a competitive rate for international fee transfer may be ultimately more valuable than a vouchers or giveaways. Save the Student have taken some of the hard work out of this for you by publishing their annual review of top International Student Bank Accounts.
If you are at all unsure about what you are being offered, please feel free to contact Advice & Guidance for support.
How do I prove my identity to open an account?
Since 1994, when the government introduced the Money Laundering Regulations, financial services firms have been required to have procedures in place to prevent money laundering.
The Money Advice Service offer guidance on ID for opening bank accounts to help you.
Documents you need to open a bank account
In order for you to open a UK student bank account there are certain documents that are usually asked for:
1. Proof of Identity - Passport, birth certificate, etc.
2. Proof of current UK address - Utility bill, council tax, etc.
3. Confirmation of study letter - can be downloaded online from Student Records.
For more detail please see I need to prove my student status. For other specifications, please refer to the individual website of each bank you are opening an account with.
I have a complaint/dispute with a bank; what can I do?
Financial customers have certain rights relating to financial products and how the bank deals with their personal information. For guidance and more information visit the Money Advice Service.
If you have made a complaint to your bank, insurance company or finance firm and you are not satisfied with their response you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.
How can I improve my understanding of banking and financial services?
King’s are partnered with Blackbullion.com who host online financial education tools to help you improve your financial capability, and expand your financial education. Courses include:
And they have helpful articles on overdrafts, opening a bank account for both home and international students, digital banks and credit cards.
Access to this platform is free and you can join anytime by registering with your King’s email address. If you are a prospective student, you can gain limited access to their Money Ready for Uni programme once you are an offer holder.