Student bank accounts: Student accounts explained


Ignore student account freebies and look for the biggest interest-free overdraft

Student living costs at university

On average, graduates earn 55% more over their working lives than those who start work at 18, but getting a degree in the first place isn't cheap. It now costs more than £30,000 to complete a three-year degree course, with tuition fees and accommodation taking the lion's share. 

According to the NUS, the average cost of living and study for a standard 39 week period in the 2012/13 academic year was £23,521 inside London and £22,189 outside London.

Interest-free overdrafts

While students in England and Wales qualify for student loans to pay tuition fees (tuition is free at Scottish universities for Scottish students) and many students across the UK qualify for a maintenance grant, banks recognise that the average student is more likely to be overdrawn than in credit. That's why the main selling point with any undergraduate bank account is a large, interest-free overdraft. 

We compared 13 student bank accounts and found that all offer a free overdraft of £1,000 or more. Halifax and HSBC offer the best overdraft at £3,000.

Student account freebies

From laptop insurance to savings on entertainment and fashion, student account free gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Yet the offer of a free mini speaker worth £15 pales into insignificance when compared with the value of an interest-free overdraft

Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Bank and TSB’s student account offers potentially the most useful benefits in the form of an NUS Extra card, which grants access to a range of discounts, as well as three-year Youth Hostel Association membership. Santander's 123 Student Account comes with a free 4-year 16-25 Railcard, which could save you a third off rail travel in Great Britain.

However, our best advice is to avoid the freebies and go for the biggest overdraft when choosing a student account.

More on this ...

  • For everything you need to know about going to university, check out our expert guide
  • Preparing to leave home? Take a look at our guide on getting discounts on products
  • Or read our guide on how to find the best laptop  

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