Bank accounts for EU/international students Watch

Ric.ie
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So I'm starting university in Cardiff for the first time. I will be opening a bank account shortly, and I'm trying to find the best one for an EU student.

Quite a few banks' "Student Accounts" exclude people who are not UK citizens or who do not have 3 years previous residency in the UK. The only bank I have found that appears to allow EU students to open a student account is Halifax:

http://www.halifax.co.uk/bankaccount...entaccount.asp

However, even when I called them and talked to three different staff, I couldn't get a straight answer out of them - they simply said they could discuss it at an appointment at a local branch.

I also noticed this story the other day - should it make me wary of opening a bank account w/ Halifax?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...cull-ever.html

Most banks (e.g. Natwest, HSBC, Barclays) only appear to offer special student accounts to international students which have a monthly fee of £4-8. Up to £280 over the next three years to use a bank account which is normally free seems like a waste to me. Certain banks also seem to want you to make large opening deposits (£1,000+).

So if Halifax rejects me, I'll be going for a basic current account. So far I've looked at (in order of the most attractive):

http://www.lloydstsb.com/current_acc...s_accounts.asp
http://www.halifax.co.uk/bankaccount...nt-account.asp
http://www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/personal/c...k-account-page
http://www.natwest.com/personal/curr...#tabs=section1

The main things I'm looking for are:

- Ability to set up direct debit
- Visa debit card (or similar which I can use on the internet)
- Internet banking
- Cheapest option for transferring money from abroad (from Euros to Sterling)
- Overdraft with low %interest, if possible - though not strictly necessary.

Lloyds & Halifax both seem to be the best options (apart from the overdraft).

Have any other international students used these banks? What did they offer you?

Can anyone recommend any better options/banks?

Thanks

PS: This page has some useful information for anyone else in the same footsteps as me - http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ban...k-account#best
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Ric.ie
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So Halifx don't offer student accounts to international students, only a basic account; neither do any other banks (that I found) offer 'student accounts'.

However, from what I gathered:

Lloyds TSB & Natwest are two banks who offer current accounts for international students, with:

- A visa debit card (also functions as your ATM card)
- Standing orders (i.e. direct debit)
- Internet banking (not 100% sure about Natwest)
- Takes 1-2 days to set up account minus your card (which will be posted) - which was very useful for me as I had to set up direct debit details shortly after I arrived in the UK.
- Lloyds also offer a cheque-book, though they charge £20 for banker's drafts. Natwest charge £12 iirc, and they may offer a cheque-book to some people.

No banks offer overdraft services to international students, unless you pay a monthly fee, or have a basic bank account for a certain amount of time (Halifax suggested I could get one in 6 months). Halifax offer a Visa Electron Card, which is a rarer type of debit card & from what I gather there are fewer stores which accept this. However, some budget airlines (e.g. Ryanair, Easyjet) have an additional surcharge of £5 for most types of Debit/Credit cards, but they don't apply this charge to Visa Electrons cards - which is nice I suppose, if you need to fly a lot within europe.

Hope this is helpful to anyone in the same situation as me.
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sebastian_st
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hey,
I'm in the same situation. I'm currently tending to open a Lloyds TSB bank account, simply because it's free AND gives you a visa debit card. I'm personally not really interested in overdraft.
I can't find any answers to the simple question: What happens if I make a SEPA payment to a British bank account? What exchange rates do apply? What about fees? I'm going to bother my bank (Sparkasse in Germany) tomorrow...
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hypocriticaljap
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I'm charged £20 a time to pay money into a French acct by my British bank.
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Ric.ie
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(Original post by sebastian_st)
hey,
I'm in the same situation. I'm currently tending to open a Lloyds TSB bank account, simply because it's free AND gives you a visa debit card. I'm personally not really interested in overdraft.
I can't find any answers to the simple question: What happens if I make a SEPA payment to a British bank account? What exchange rates do apply? What about fees? I'm going to bother my bank (Sparkasse in Germany) tomorrow...
From what someone just PM'd me, Lloyds charge £7 for receiving electronic bank transfers - http://www.lloydstsb.com/rates_and_c...rges.asp#other

Natwest also charge £7 for receiving transfers over £100, but they charge £1 for transfers up to £100 - http://www.natwest.com/personal/trav...k-to-bank.ashx

I don't know a lot about international transfers, but I assume there's a fee to send them from a bank in your home country (up to £20?), and a fee to receive them in a UK bank account (the £7 above). From what I can tell payments (received) in euros are automatically converted to sterling for free, but I'm not 100% sure. I haven't looked up any of the transfer fees for other banks.

Natwest have some free things bundled with the account, off the top of my head there's a student railcard, mobile phone insurance and 2-3 other things. Given that they offer everything that Lloyds do, except a cheque book and possibly a convenient savings account, it may be worthwhile to open a current account with them.

Lloyds gave me a dual account - both a current account and a savings account, and apparently I can transfer money between the two using internet banking without much trouble. I have no idea about the interest rate on the savings account though, and I assume it's lower than other banks given the convenience of it. When I set up my bank account with Lloyds I walked in at 12:30pm, filled in an application form, came back at 4pm and received the bank account #, IBAN, internet banking password etc. - so it's possible that they are the quickest and easiest bank to open an account with, though the only banks I actually walked into were Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds so I may be incorrect.


Barclays, and HSBC also offer current accounts to international students, but you do not get Visa debit cards (unless you pay a monthly fee for a student account), and HSBC can take up to 10 days to open.

The only recurring difference between a student account (which international students are ineligible for or have to pay for at every bank) and a current account is an overdraft, and some banks may offer you a planned overdraft after you've had an account with them for a while.

Hope this helps
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nocibambi
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I'm in the very same situation, however, now I am doing a one-year postgraduate, but I am thinking on continuing it in PhD. Regarding this I am looking for accounts where I will be able to get some kind of overdraft one-two years later, when I will really need it.

Do you know something about this? I asked in Halifax and in HSBC, and in the former they told me, that they can give me credit only after three years of residence and work in the UK, and in the latter, that 'it can happen' that I will get credit after one year.
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Angelica
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As a non-Uk resident, you will be ineligible for normal student account, and thus an interest-free overdraft. Most banks will offer you an overdraft after 3 years (some may offer it before, if you've been their customer the whole time). The main reason for this is that banks don't want you maxing out the overdraft only to leave the country after you graduate - never paying back the overdraft.

I would not bother with any account that expects you to pay monthly fees.

I've had accounts with both HSBC and Lloyds. HSBC have the better rates for receiving international transfers. However, after 3 years, HSBC refused to give me anything. Went to LLoyds and they opened a student account for me, and gave me the max overdraft.
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