International Student: Finances and phone

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henryp74
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I'm coming from Canada and was wondering what banks would be the best options to register a credit card and debit card with?

Additionally, will I have to switch a SIM card once I arrive in September or what phone plan do students usually use here?
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martin7
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(Original post by henryp74)
I'm coming from Canada and was wondering what banks would be the best options to register a credit card and debit card with?
The main UK banks offer student accounts with a variety of perks, the main one being that they offer interest-free overdrafts. However, international students are typically not eligible to open these accounts. (For example, you may need to have been resident in the UK for three years before opening the account.)

Some offer accounts specifically for international students, or alternatively you might be able to open one of their standard current accounts. Some banks may make a small monthly charge for international students.


So, you need to do a bit of research around what the banks offer.

The main UK banks are (off the top of my head): Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, NatWest, TSB, Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax, plus the Nationwide Building Society.

As an international student you won't have a UK credit history, so probably won't be eligible for an overdraft on a current account, or for a credit card. If you have a Canadian credit/debit card you can use that in the UK, but be aware of any charges your issuer will make for using it in the UK.

Additionally, will I have to switch a SIM card once I arrive in September or what phone plan do students usually use here?
Well, you don't need to switch to a UK SIM, but most people will expect you to have a UK mobile number (which will need a UK SIM); plus the roaming charges are likely to be very expensive!

It's very easy and quick to pick up a UK pay-as-you-go SIM once you arrive. The main UK networks are Three, EE, O2, Vodafone. There are a number of other "virtual" operators, who piggyback on the the main networks. For example, Tesco Mobile and GiffGaff use O2's infrastructure. The UK has "number portability" which means that you can move from one provider to another while retaining your UK mobile number.

Before you arrive in the UK, make sure your phone can operate on the frequencies in use in the UK otherwise it won't work!

As to phone plans, thee's a wide variety of these from the different providers so you'll to consider what use you'll make of your phone -- how much talk-time you'll need, how many text messages, how much data. What suits me may not suit you! (For example, I have wifi at work and at home and so 2GB data per month is more than I ever use. But you might find 2GB is far too little for your use.)

If you're likely to be making phone calls back to Canada (as opposed to using apps like Skype or Facetime) then you might want to look at what the charges are for this.
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