How to find the best student account

Student bank accounts could save you money, let you borrow for free and offer freebies like gift vouchers or railcards. Here is how they work and how to find the best one for you.

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What is a student account?

They are the same as standard current accounts but can only be opened by students and usually come with interest free overdrafts and other benefits.

Free overdrafts

An overdraft lets you borrow money from your bank, so you can still pay for things even when you have no money left in your account.

You have a negative balance when you use your overdraft. For example, if you had £10 left in your account and spent £50 on your debit card, your new balance would be -£40.

Overdrafts usually charge interest on the amount you borrow, but many student overdrafts are interest free for several years as long as you stay within their limits.

Here is everything you need to know about how overdrafts work

When do you need to pay off your overdraft?

Your overdraft will only be interest free for a limited time, although most last for several years.

Many change into a graduate account when you finish your course, but most still offer a free overdraft. This could give you enough time to get a job and pay off the amount you owe.

If you have not paid it off before then, you will pay interest on the amount you owe.

You can check how long each account's overdraft is interest free for, using our student bank account comparison

What overdraft limits can you get?

Student bank accounts offer limits of up to £3,000. If you go over this limit you will be charged interest and a fee, and your bank could even take away your overdraft.

Some banks offer overdrafts that increase each year, for example:

  • £1,000 in your first year

  • £2,000 in your second year

  • £3,000 in your third year

Our student bank account comparison shows the maximum overdraft offered by every student current account.

Are there any other fees?

Yes, some student accounts charge for:

  • Unpaid direct debits or standing orders (if there is not enough money in your account)

  • Withdrawing cash in another country

  • Transferring money abroad

  • Providing old statements

  • Letting you have the account (charged monthly or annually on some premium accounts)

If you think you will need any of the services, check for these fees before you apply.


The following extras are available with some student accounts:

  • Free student railcards

  • Gift vouchers

  • Free computer software

  • A cash reward for opening the account

  • Discount cards like the NUS extra card


Some student bank accounts pay you interest on the money you have in your account.

This can earn you a little extra but only if you have a positive balance in your account. You may be able to get a better interest rate with a separate savings account instead.

Who can get one?

Most student accounts require you to be:

  • In full time higher education

  • Older than their minimum age (usually 18)

  • A UK resident

  • Able to pay in a minimum amount each term (e.g. your student loan)

Although student accounts are usually aimed at undergraduates, if you take a postgraduate course you can usually keep your student account or apply for a new one.

You can usually get one even if you do not have a job because your student loan counts as your income.

You can get one if you are an older student as long as you are studying full time.

What documents will you need?

  • Proof you are a student (your student ID if you have started already or you AS12 letter from UCAS if not)

  • Proof of your identity (like a passport or driving licence)

  • Proof of your address (like a bank statement or bill)

Which banks offer them?

Many UK banks offer student accounts, but not all of them do. You can find which banks offer them using our student bank account comparison, which shows each one available in the UK.

Choose an account

Finding an account that will save you money is much more important than choosing one with tempting freebies.

If you plan to use the account to borrow money, choose the one with the best overdraft instead of offers like gift vouchers and look for:

  • How much you can borrow for free

  • How long it is free for

Our comparison includes every student bank account so you can find the best overdraft and any other features you need.

If more than one account offers what you want, choose the one that offers the best freebies. You can then apply to open the account online.

Check the account features

Work out which of the following you want and choose one that offers everything you need:

  • Online banking

  • A mobile phone app

  • Mobile payments (e.g. Apple Pay)

  • Cash withdrawals

  • A debit card

  • Contactless payments

If you need to visit your bank regularly, for example to pay in cheques or cash, choose one with a branch near to your home or campus. If you can manage your account online instead, a nearby branch is less important.

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.