7 Best Student Bank Accounts in the UK Compared in 2024

Find out what makes a good account and what your choices are.

Updated: July 14, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

Rachel Wait

Edited By

Rachel Wait

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7 Best Student Bank Accounts in the UK Compared in 2024

Student life can be expensive. Not only do you have to worry about high tuition fees, but you also have to take accommodation, food, socializing and other living costs into account.

The right student account can go a long way in helping you reduce your outgoings. But which are the best bank accounts for students?

In this article, we take you through everything you need to know about choosing the right bank account for you. This guide includes information about what you should look for, as well as some of the best student accounts around.

1. Santander★★★★★Learn more
2. NatWest★★★★★Learn more
3. HSBC★★★★★Learn more
4. Nationwide★★★★★Learn more
5. Royal Bank of Scotland★★★★Learn more
6. Halifax★★★★Learn more
7. Lloyds Bank★★★★★Learn more

7 Best Student Bank Accounts in the UK 2024

We’ve taken a look at the main high-street institutions to see what they have on offer.

Below, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each account, and what we like about them. This should give you a clearer idea of which bank is the right one for you.

Account NameInterest Free OverdraftPerks
1. Santander Edge Student Current AccountUp to £1,500 for years 1-3, up to £1,800 in year 4, up to £2,000 in year 54-year 16-25 Railcard
2. NatWest Student Current AccountUp to £2,000 from year 1 (limited to £500 in term 1, year 1), up to £3,250 from year 3 onwards4-year Tastecard
3. HSBC Student Current AccountUp to £3,000 for years 1-3£100 cash and 1-year Headspace subscription
4. Nationwide FlexStudent Current AccountUp to £3,000 while you studyCash offers
5. Royal Bank of Scotland Student Current AccountUp to £500 for term1 year 1, up to £2,000 from term 2, year 1, up to £3,250 from year 3 onwards4-year Tastecard
6. Halifax Student Current AccountUp to £1,500 for the length of your course plus 3 years after you graduateUp to 15% Cashback
7. Lloyds Bank Student Current AccountUp to £1,500 in years 1-3, up to £2,000 in years 4–6Cash offers

1. Santander Edge Student Current Account

✔️ Interest-free overdraft of £1,500 for years 1-3❌️ Overdraft limit is less than many competitors
✔️ Free 4-year 16-25 Railcard❌️ You must pay in £500 or more every four months

Why we like it

Santander Bank has consistently gained glowing reviews for its student account. The interest-free overdraft is a big draw, giving a consistent £1,500 limit throughout years 1-3 of university. If you stay an additional year, it increases to £1,800, and if you stay for a fifth, it reaches £2,000.

The only downside is that to qualify for the full amount you have to pay at least £500 every four months.

Once you graduate, you’ll be automatically migrated to a Graduate Account, which includes a £2,000 interest-free overdraft.

The other main bonus that sells this account is the free 4-year 16-25 Railcard. If you’re going to be traveling a lot, you could save 1/3 off rail travel in the UK. These cards are usually around £30 a year, so that’s quite a saving.

However, the £1,500 overdraft for years 1-3 is quite a lot lower than some of the other accounts on offer. If you think you’re going to need the extra access to cash and won’t use the railcard, then you may want to consider an alternative.

2. NatWest Student Current Account

✔️ Up to £2,000 interest-free overdraft from year 1❌️ Overdraft subject to status and limited at first
✔️ 4-year tastecard included
✔️ You can apply from the age of 17

Why we like it

NatWest's student incentive is a four-year tastecard, which gives money off different food and entertainment venues. It's worth £29.99 a year and could come in handy if you like eating out. However, it's probably not the best incentive out there.

NatWest bank also offers students an interest-free £500 overdraft in their first term, which can rise to £2,000 after that depending on their financial situation. In their third year, students can apply for an interest-free overdraft of up to £3,250.

NatWest also has an excellent banking app that makes managing your finances a breeze.

3. HSBC Student Current Account

✔️ Guaranteed £1,000 overdraft, potentially increasing to £3,000❌️ Qualifying criteria applies to incentives
✔️ £100 cash and 1-year Headspace subscription
✔️ Access to regular saver account

Why we like it

HSBC Bank offers a lot of support to students, not only with this account. There are plenty of credit card, insurance, and savings features that help you to manage your money.

Its student account offers a guaranteed 0% EAR £1,000 overdraft which is given to all students who open an account with HSBC. Depending on your personal and financial circumstances, this could rise to £2,000 in your second year and £3,000 in your third. This is one of the most generous overdrafts out there.

On top of this, when you open the account you'll get £100 in cash and a 1-year subscription to Headspace for better mental health. However, you'll need to make at least five qualifying transactions using your debit card within 30 days of opening the account to qualify.

If you want to build up a savings pot while you study, you'll also have access to the Regular Saver account paying 5.00% AER. You can start saving from just £25 a month for one year.

4. Nationwide FlexStudent Current Account

✔️ Up to £3,000 interest-free overdraft❌️ No bonus incentives
✔️ Easy to apply❌️ You'll have to pay in £500 each term

Why we like it

Nationwide Bank is often ranked high in terms of customer service, particularly by students. The main appeal of this account is the interest-free overdraft, which can potentially reach as high as £3,000 in the third year. You can apply for an overdraft of up to £1,000 in the first year, up to £2,000 in the second year, and up to £3,000 in the third year.

To qualify for the overdraft, you have to pay in £500 each term after you sign up. You can apply for the account online no more than five months before or 12 months after your course start date.

However, there are no extra incentives to appeal to students, so if you absolutely need a railcard or similar, you should choose another bank.

5. Royal Bank of Scotland Student Current Account

✔️ Up to £3,250 overdraft❌️ Overdraft limited for first term
✔️ 4-year tastecard included
✔️ You can apply from the age of 17

Why we like it

RBS’s offer is essentially the same as NatWest’s. If you sign up, you'll get a 4-year tastecard and an interest-free overdraft of £500 from term one year. You can apply to increase the overdraft up to £2,000 from term two year one. Students from year three onwards can apply for up to £3,250. The increase is dependent on your financial and personal circumstances.

6. Halifax Student Current Account

✔️ £1,500 overdraft for the duration of the course❌️ No extra incentives
✔️ Earn up to 15% cashback at selected retailers❌️ Overdraft amount is low

Why you might consider it

Halifax doesn’t offer any flashy incentives, and its overdraft is limited to £1,500 which is lower than some of its competitors. It pays 0.5% interest on in-credit balances, but that's pretty poor too. However, you can earn cashback on your spending at selected retailers.

7. Lloyds Bank Student Current Account

✔️ Overdraft of up to £1,500 for years 1-3❌️ Overdraft isn’t guaranteed
✔️ Good range of cashback offers

Why you might consider it

Lloyds bank used to offer students a free NUS Extra card, which was quite an attractive incentive. However, it currently offers no incentives and its overdraft is fairly average; up to £1,500 for the duration of a three-year course, increasing to £2,000 if you stay 4-6 years.

What Is a Student Account?

Although (obviously, you may say) a student account is a bank account specifically for students, there are a few differences that make them well-suited to those in higher education.

One of the biggest benefits they usually offer is an interest-free overdraft. This might be tiered, so the amount available increases with each year of study, or it might remain the same for your course duration.

If you’re starting at university or planning to soon, you should definitely consider applying for a student account. You can pay money in and withdraw it, just like with a regular account. However, there is the added security of an overdraft should you need it.

You should sign up for a student account as soon as you can – most allow you to do so within six months of your course start date.

The stipulations on how much overdraft you get, the interest on it, and how long you can access it for differ for each bank. We’ll cover this in greater detail later.

What Makes a Good Student Account?

There are a few elements that make for a good student account.

Perhaps the most important one, as we’ve mentioned, is the overdraft. Many people in higher education will rely on this interest-free loan.

When you’re checking out potential institutions to bank with, check whether the overdraft they offer is ‘guaranteed’ or ‘up to’. If it's ‘up to', the amount you get will depend on your credit score and personal circumstances, so it could be less than advertised.

Some banks will give you a fixed overdraft throughout your three-year course. Others will increase it each year. The one you choose should reflect your needs. Many people find it comforting to know their credit will be extended each year.

But as well as the overdraft, many student bank accounts come with an incentive to entice you in. This could range from vouchers, memberships, and cashback to railcards and cold, hard cash. Again, choose the one that best meets your needs.

How Do I Choose the Right Student Account for Me?

The first thing you need to do is thoroughly research what’s on offer.

The fact you’re reading this article is a very good start. You have plenty of options to choose from, so take your time to find the one that’s right for you.

Start by setting out a budget for your student needs. Account for how much you’ll need to pay in tuition, accommodation, food, mobile phone, entertainment, and nights out. Balance this against the amount you’ll receive from student loans, grants, savings, parents, and employment.

Once you have a proper budget, you can account for how much extra you may need. Although an overdraft is a great way of improving your cash flow situation while you study, don’t forget that it’s only a loan. At some point, you will have to pay it back, and once you graduate you may start incurring interest on it after a while.

In addition to the overdraft, look at the other incentives too. Do you tend to use your debit card a lot? If so, a bank with a high cashback percentage could be a tempting prospect. Alternatively, if you know you’ll regularly be travelling by train, a free Railcard could be more beneficial.

It is, of course, impossible to know exactly what your circumstances at university will be like until you get there, but proper planning can save you a lot of time, hassle, and money in the long run.

What Do I Need to Open a Student Bank Account?

There are a few documents you will need to get started with a student account. As with most banks, you will need basics such as one or two forms of photo ID. These can include a driving licence or passport.

You’ll also need proof of address from something like a recent utility bill. If you’re not sure exactly where you’ll be living while you study, you can always change the address on your account once you have it confirmed.

To be accepted for a student account, you will, of course, have to prove you’re a student or that you’re going to be one soon. Your UCAS confirmation letter should suffice. However, if your letter is a conditional one, you may need to show proof of your A-Level results or a confirmation letter from the institution you’ll be attending.

You’ll likely have a few weeks or months after your acceptance to set up your account, and doing so early means you can access the benefits early too.

Student Bank Account Top Tips

Now that you’re familiar with some of the products on offer, take a look at our top tips for picking a student account:

  • Choose a large overdraft but use it wisely. The biggest factor you should consider is the overdraft. These extra funds can be incredibly useful during your studies, but remember that you will need to pay back the amount you borrow after you graduate, so use it carefully. Be aware that the fees for exceeding your overdraft limit can often be excessive and doing so can hurt your credit rating.
  • Choose your incentive wisely. Don't be swayed by incentives alone, but consider what would be most useful to you. If you are likely to regularly travel by train, a four-year 16-25 Railcard could be a big draw, but if you have your own car, you might prefer cash or another incentive.
  • Check your credit rating. Banks will run a credit check when you apply for an overdraft. Check your credit score ahead of time so that you have a better idea of where you stand financially.
  • Budget. We mentioned this at the start of the article, but it’s important that you at least try and budget. The last thing you want is to run out of funds before your course is over.

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Mentioned Banks

About HSBC Bank HSBC is a British banking and financial services company. It is the largest bank in Europe and the seventh largest bank in the world. The bank originated in Hong Kong...
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About Lloyds Bank Lloyds Bank is a British retail and commercial bank. One of the ‘Big Four’ clearing banks, it was founded in Birmingham in 1765. It is the largest retail bank...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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About RBS RBS, or Royal Bank of Scotland, is a retail banking subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. The Group’s other retail subsidiaries are NatWest and Ulster Bank....
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About Santander Santander UK is a British bank. Though it is a British company and autonomously managed, it is entirely owned by the Spanish Santander Group. Santander is one...
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About Halifax Formerly known as Halifax Building Society, Halifax is a British bank. It is named after the town in West Yorkshire where it was founded in 1853 as a building...
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About Nationwide Nationwide is a British building society and mutual financial institution. Headquartered in Swindon, it has additional offices in Glasgow, Bournemouth, Northampton...
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About Bank of Scotland Bank of Scotland is a commercial clearing bank based in Edinburgh. Not to be confused with Royal Bank of Scotland, it was established in 1695 and is one...
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