Choosing and opening a student bank account

student with piggy bank

Starting uni soon? Here are all the student bank account deals for 2023, as well as what you need to get going

Sorting out your student bank account before you start university will give you more time to focus on settling and socialising in when you arrive – and it should help you avoid any delays receiving your loan.

But with so many banks competing for your attention – and all sorts of student perks on offer – it can be hard to know which one to pick.

We’ve put together offers from all of the banks, as well as information on choosing and opening your account, along with some tips from other students.

What banks are offering (as of August 2023)

What bank should you go with this year? Take a look at what the major UK banks are offering with their student accounts:


  • Up to £500 interest free overdraft upon opening the account

  • Up to £1,000 interest free overdraft by first year

  • Up to £1,500 interest free in second year and beyond

  • 12-month subscription to Perlego’s online library of books, academic texts and tools

  • No hidden charges – you don’t have to pay to open or use your student account


  • Get £100 by opening an account and depositing at least £500 by 31 October 2023

  • Interest-free arranged overdraft of up to £1,500 – for the duration of your course and three years after you graduate

  • Up to 15% cashback at some of your favourite retailers

  • Get paid an interest rate of 0.50% AER variable on your balance

  • Save the Change rounds up payments to the nearest pound and puts the difference in your savings account


  • Get £100 with your student bank account, plus a one-year subscription to Headspace – to qualify, make at least five debit card transactions within 30 days of opening

  • £1,000 interest-free overdraft with option to increase as studies progress, up to £3,000 by your third year

  • Get retail discounts with their home&Away programme

  • Access to 5.00% AER regular saver (between £25 and £250 a month) for one year

Lloyds Bank

  • Get £100 by opening an account and depositing at least £500 by 31 October 2023

  • Interest-free overdraft of up to £1,500 in years 1-3 and up to £2,000 in years 4-6

  • Get up to 15% cashback at retailers including the Co-op and Costa

  • Earn interest of 2.00% AER variable on balances between £1 and £5,000


  • You'll be given £100 within 10 days of opening your account 

  • A four-year tastecard with discounts on meals, cinema tickets and shopping 

  • Maximum £500 overdraft in first term, and up to £2,000 in your first two years

  • An interest-free overdraft up to £3,250 in your third year

saving for uni


  • Get £100 cash within 10 days of opening your account and a four-year tastecard with discounts

  • Overdraft up to £500 first term, rising up to £2,000 after that

  • £3,250 interest-free overdraft from year three onwards

  • Withdraw up to £130 without your card every 24 hours at their ATMs

  • Option to temporarily lock your card


  • Free four-year 16-25 railcard, saving you 1/3 on rail travel

  • £1,500 interest-free overdraft, up to £1,800 in year 4 and £2,000 in year 5

  • Get cashback, vouchers, prize draws and personalised offers with their rewards service

  • No fees for using Santander cash machines when you travel

Co-operative bank

  • Interest-free overdraft starting at £1,400, that you can request to increase each year

  • One year to pay off your overdraft after you graduate, without any interest

  • Services with a bank that supports Manchester Pride, Refuge, Amnesty International UK, and Centrepoint — the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity

  • A say in their ethical policy – you can tell them the issues that matter to you, and what you’d like them to take action on


  • Earn up to 5.00% AER variable interest on balances up to £500

  • Interest-free overdraft of up to £1,500, starting with £500 for the first six months

  • Choose to increase your overdraft limit at six, seven, and 10 months

  • Use contactless, Google or Apple pay


  • Get £100 cashback by applying for a FlexStudent from 1 August 2023 and depositing £500 by 15 December 2023

  • Up to £1,000 overdraft in first year, which you can apply to increase in second year to £2,000 and to £3,000 in third year

  • Interest-free account for up to three years after you graduate

student banking

What you need to open an account

Check with your chosen bank, but you'll probably need some combination of the following:

  • Proof that you’re a student (such as your Ucas code)

  • Photographic identification, like a passport or full driving license 

  • Overseas students need their passport and letter of admission or enrolment from the university

  • Proof of term-time or home address, such as a bank statement or utility bill

  • A copy of your student loan financial assessment form

Remember that you'll have to update the address on your driving license if you want to open a student account from your uni halls or house.

You should be able to open your account online

student savings

What student bank account should you choose?

Making the right choice of student bank account will depend on what matters most to you. Here are seven things to consider that will help you find the student account that suits you best.

Weigh up the features

There are lots of banks to choose from. Look at the list above to see what each one is offering students.

Features you might want to prioritise include:

  • The amount you can borrow as an interest-free overdraft
  • Any interest on positive balances (if you think you’re likely to be staying in credit)
  • Low fees for overspending (if you’re worried about managing and sticking to your budget)
  • Rewards for regularly paying into your student account

There’s no one-size-fits-all student bank account, so knowing what features matter most to you will help you compare what’s on offer – and ultimately choose the student bank account that best fits your needs.

Consider the location

With online banking and smartphone apps, the physical location of your bank isn't as important as it once was. But it’s still a factor worth considering.

Many students will need to visit their bank at some point during their uni days to deliver documents, speak to an advisor or to pay cash or a cheque into their account. So it’s useful to choose a bank with a branch close to campus.

Know your bank accounts

There are two different types of student bank account in the UK – a current account and a savings account. 

A current account – often referred to as your ‘bank account’ or ‘student account’ – gives you immediate access to your cash. This is where your income (such as your student loan, bursary or salary) will go.

A savings account – also known as a ‘student savings account’ – is a place to put your money over a longer term. It lets you earn interest on your savings, so it’s worth considering if you're able to save money for things like travelling or emergencies. 

Go for the largest overdraft

An interest-free overdraft is a top priority for many students. Your interest-free overdraft limit – which can be up to around £3,250 – is essentially the amount you can spend outside of your own money, without having to pay interest. 

It’s not free money – you’ll have to pay it back eventually – but you won’t pay back any more than you have spent if you’ve stayed within the overdraft limit.

You’ll need to arrange your student overdraft with the bank before you plan on using it. If you don’t, you could be hit with interest rates and hefty charges.

It’s also worth arranging your overdraft even if you don’t think you’ll need to use it immediately to avoid any unexpected overspending fees.

Be aware of any bank charges

Banks will make charges for a variety of things - from going over your overdraft limit to ordering a paper version of your statement. 

Exceeding your overdraft can be pricey: you can expect a flat fee plus interest charges.

The level of fees, charges and interest will all be outlined in the terms and conditions of each bank, so take a look at what these are before choosing your student bank account.

Remember you have to pay that overdraft back

A hefty interest-free overdraft is a helpful feature, but don’t forget it’s just a loan. Once you’re no longer a student, you will have to pay back everything you’ve borrowed to avoid paying any charges and interest.

If it’s not possible to clear your overdraft once you graduate, you might switch to a graduate account. This will give you access to preferential banking terms (including an interest-free overdraft) for at least a year after you’ve finished your course, allowing you to gradually pay off the debt.

And don’t forget the freebies

As you can see, there are plenty of banking features to consider beyond what freebies are on offer.

But those perks are definitely worth consideration. Student accounts offer you everything from free products and travel discounts to cash rewards and other exclusive deals. 

Although they all sound tempting, it pays to be smart. These rewards are often used in place of more attractive overdraft limits – so it can pay to cost it out for yourself.

Check also whether you can get these freebies elsewhere, or by using your student ID, Totum or Unidays card.

With all this advice in mind, you should now be able to weigh up your options and choose the student bank account that suits you best.

Finally, here are some top tips from other students

You generally can't open a student bank account until after A-level results come out and you have a confirmed place - so from late August onwards.

You just need to provide details of a bank account in your name; you can change the details later if you open a different account.


The 'best' student bank account depends on what you need. Santander offers the incentive of a 4-year railcard but its free overdraft facility is only up to £1,500. Nationwide and HSBC offer accounts with overdrafts up to £3,000.


Santander send you an email with the link to register for the railcard, and it gets posted to you pretty fast. It's only a plastic card but if you're using something like Trainline, you just add it as a 16-25 railcard and if someone checks your tickets, they ask to see it.

Ask a question in the Money and finance forum
Your question will be posted in the Money and finance forum
Awesome! Your question has now been posted. View your post here
  1. Please choose where you want to post your question.
    Please choose your study level.
    Please enter what your question is about.
    Please enter your question.
    Your message must have two characters or more.