How to open a U.K. bank account?

Opening a bank account in the United Kingdom should be one of your first concerns if you dream of studying there, especially if the idea is to spend a long time taking an undergraduate or graduate course, for example. Want to know how to do this? Find out in the text.

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What types of accounts are available?

Most banks have specific incentives to attract students in the hope that they will remain customers after graduation. This is no different in the UK. But with so many options, figuring out which one is best for your reality can be a challenge. The first step in making this decision is to understand what types of accounts are available.

Student Accounts

Student bank accounts are designed specifically for those who are already in higher education. Although they are similar to normal checking accounts, they also have additional advantages, such as interest exemption and no maintenance fees.

International student accounts

If you are going to study in the UK for more than a few months, it is recommended to open a bank account. You can use it to pay your rent and university fees or even to manage other daily expenses without incurring additional costs. As an international student, you will generally not be eligible for accounts for British students. But calm down, even so it won’t be a big problem to find something more suited to your profile.

Lloyds Bank branch in Leeds

One option is to open a basic bank account, which will allow you to deposit and withdraw money using an ATM card. Usually these accounts do not offer a credit function, so you will not be entitled to an overdraft, checkbook or credit card. You will most likely receive a debit card, but this varies depending on the account used.

Another option is to open a bank account for international students, specifically aimed at people who go to the UK for the sole purpose of studying. In this case, you will have more flexibility than on a basic account, but you may have to pay a monthly account maintenance fee or meet minimum balance requirements. In return, you can take advantage of free international transfers or check deposits abroad. But even with that option, you are still unlikely to get any form of credit.

What to take into account when choosing the ideal account?

When choosing a UK bank account for students, there are several things you should consider:

Overdraft

An overdraft means having a contract with your bank to spend or withdraw more money than is available in your account. If you know you will need extra cash from time to time, having an overdraft can be very helpful. But be careful: you need to be sure that you will be able to repay these “loans” to the bank.

As a student, you may be entitled to an interest-free overdraft (meaning you do not have to pay interest on the amount that is disbursed). The ideal is to check with each bank if they offer this feature before closing any contract. Also pay attention to the way in which information about it is formulated. Some banks will try to seduce you by promising an overdraft of ‘up to’ a certain amount, which means that you may not receive the full amount. Make sure that, if you are entitled to the overdraft, you will be able to know exactly how much you can withdraw before using this feature.

Gifts

While gifts are generally not as good as an interest-free overdraft, some banks offer benefits that can sweeten the deal considerably. For example, Santander offers a free rail card for students aged 16 to 25, valid for 4 years, which entitles them to discounts on train travel within the United Kingdom. Natwest and RBS allow you to choose between an Amazon Prime Student membership; a discount card at the National Express bus company or a Tastecard, a card that gives you discounts of up to 50% in restaurants in the United Kingdom and Ireland. So be strategic and think about the benefits that will be most interesting to you.

Location

While it is free to withdraw money from ATMs of different banks in the UK, it is useful to have a physical branch of your bank close to you. Thus, it will be much more relaxed when you have to make a deposit or deliver a document, for example.

Barclays Bank branch in the Catford district of London

How to open a UK bank account?

Opening an account can take a few weeks, so you should start the process as soon as possible. It is not necessary to wait for classes to start before entering the entire process, as it is possible to do so as soon as you receive the confirmation letter from UCAS, the British university selection system .

As a foreign student, you must start researching the best banks before arriving in the UK and enter the procedures for the first few days there. It is also interesting to see if it is possible to start signing up online for some accounts. Another good idea is to bring an international card or cash in case there is a delay in opening your new account.

The main UK banks are Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Natwest, Nationwide, RBS and Santander.

After choosing your future bank, you should schedule a time to open your account at a local branch. In addition to the UCAS letter, you will need to bring some documents, which may vary according to the desired bank. So check your chosen website or call them to make sure you have everything you need.

In general, it is necessary to provide:

  • Identification document, such as a passport with a student visa
  • Proof of a UK address (electricity bill, rental agreement, etc.)
  • Proof that you are a student (university acceptance letter)

Now that you know how to open a bank account in the UK, how about starting to get ready to win your dream opportunity there? We can help you with this through our expert mentoring and our entire team of mentors.