Best Banks In UK For International Students
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Dr Mohammad Shafiq

Top 10 Best Banks In UK For International Students

Top 10 Best Banks In UK For International Students

International students who are staying in the UK for several months must choose a student-friendly bank account to pay their tuition fees, living costs, and other regular expenses. Plus, you will become good at money management.

It is important to consider some crucial factors while shortlisting the best banks in UK for international students. You can't overlook significant points, like location, overdraft limit, transfer costs, debit/credit card facilities, hidden charges, transaction limit, convenience, banks' reputation, etc.

Why Open a British Bank Account?

Convenience and Accessibility for Day-to-day Transactions

If you have an international bank account in the UK, carrying out transactions in different currencies between countries won't be a problem. You will get a debit card to conduct everyday financial transactions. Students staying for more than 12 months can apply for credit cards, too. You can use it at most shops and restaurants to purchase the things they need in the UK.

Ability to Receive Funds from Abroad Easily

Many UK banks offer special International student bank accounts. You can transfer money and deposit overseas checks without any cost. However, the financial institution will charge a fee monthly. Getting funds from your home country to pay your tuition fees and living costs will be convenient.

Establishing Credit History in the UK

A bank account records all your financial transactions and shows your credit history. This enables access to loans, credit cards, and favourable interest rates, supporting various financial endeavours and goals. Most importantly, it shows you have a good relationship with the financial institution.

Access to Student-specific Benefits and Offers

A UK student bank account can help you get various perks, like discounts on travel and shopping, extra cash, interest-free overdrafts, higher overdraft limits, etc. Plus, you may get other offers such as free discount cards, railcards, subscriptions, freebies, cashback, etc.

Safety and Security of Funds

It is 100% safe to keep money in a UK bank account. UK banks adhere to strict regulations to offer secure systems and protections for deposited funds, ensuring financial safety.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Bank for International Students

Things to Consider When Choosing a Bank for International Students

Account Types and Fees

There are mainly two types of bank accounts for international students who came to the UK for higher education: basic bank accounts and Student & graduate bank accounts. It works like a current bank account. Students can use the account to receive money, make payments through checks or debit cards, transfer money to another account, etc. The average monthly fees of a student bank account range from £5-£20.

Exchange Rates and Transaction Fees

UK-based student bank accounts charge anywhere between 0.5% to 3% depending on the transaction type. The financial institution charges this commission to convert your home currency to your desired currency. Compare different UK banks and their features to save money as much as possible.

Online and Mobile Banking Services

A good number of UK banks come with online and mobile banking services. This allows you to check your bank balance, pay loan payments, choose better interest rates, check bank statements, etc. Carefully go through all the top-rated banks and what type of online services they offer. It will help you determine the best bank for international students in UK during your studies.

ATM and Branch Availability

When choosing the best bank in UK for international students, you can't overlook ATM and branch availability. The bank branches and ATMs should be near your residence or university to conveniently access funds and in-person services.

Customer Support and Reputation

It is a good rule of thumb to consider the reputation, financial stability, customer reviews, and rating of a specific bank before opening a bank account. International students should not choose any bank that is not helpful, responsive, and available to assist students when they need it. Choose a financial institution that has several customer service channels.

How to Open a Bank Account as an International Student in the UK

How to Open a Bank Account as an International Student in the UK

When it comes to opening the best bank account in UK for international students, you must know the procedure to open a bank account.

Determine Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements may slightly or significantly vary among banks. The following are the common requirements to open a student bank account in the UK. 

  • Must be at least 17-18 years old or older
  • Must live for a particular period in the UK
  • Some banks have a condition not to own any previous UK bank accounts

Gather Necessary Documents

When it comes to opening a UK bank account for international students, they must submit the following important documents.

  • A valid passport
  • An in-date visa
  • Confirmation of address in the UK or overseas (verify with your bank)
  • A bank statement from your home bank from the preceding three months
  • An approval letter from the university you have admitted or current student ID

Choose a Bank and Account Type

Select a particular bank near your residence or university campus. Compare all the benefits and features among them to choose the best bank account in UK for international students. Decide whether you prefer a basic or student & graduate bank account. The latter one is better if you want a credit card in the future.

Visit The Branch Or Apply Online

If you want to pay lower fees and enjoy better interest rates, it is best to fill out the online bank form and open a bank account. But when you prefer to know all terms, rules, and regulations by discussing them with the bank staff, visit the nearest physical branch.

Complete the Application Process

It takes around 15-20 minutes to complete the application process online to open a bank account. Read the application form thoroughly and submit all the necessary documents mentioned in the paper. If you have visited a physical branch, get help from a bank staff if anything appears confusing.

Verify Identity and Address

The bank you have applied to open a bank account will ask you to prove your identity and address. They will ask to submit different documents, like your current living location, personal identity, etc. You can submit various documents, such as your valid, full UK photocard driving license, current valid passport, etc.

Receive Account Details and Start Banking

Once you pass the identity verification, the bank will send you the account details to your mentioned mail address within three working days. When you receive the bank account details, you can start financial transactions in your bank account.

Also read:

Best Bank Accounts for International Students in the UK

Top 10 Best Bank Accounts for International Students in the UK

The following are the criteria and benefits for choosing each particular UK student bank account.

HSBC Bank - HSBC International Student Account

The HSBC International Student Account offers features tailored for students studying abroad, such as the ability to manage money efficiently while focusing on studies. It facilitates opening an account before arrival in a new country, ensuring a smooth financial transition. The account includes options for money transfers between countries using HSBC Global View and Global Transfers, allowing for free, instant transfers to other eligible HSBC accounts worldwide.

  • Must be at least 18+ years old
  • Submit all the documents of the current university or college on the particular course.
  • A valid ID and proof of current living location
  • Special students will get fee-free credit card and interest-free overdraft

Barclays Bank - Barclays Student Additions Account

The Barclays Student Additions Account offers a £500 interest-free overdraft for the first term, increasing to £1,000 in the first year and £1,500 from the second year onwards. It's designed for undergraduate and postgraduate students, providing financial flexibility and the ability to track spending through the Barclays app.

  • Must be at least 18+ years old
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate, postgraduate, or any other higher degree
  • Up to £500 overdraft from the first year and £500 overdraft from the third year
  • Must have been living in the UK for more than three years
  • Must use this bank account to pay tuition fees and other expenses relevant to studies

Lloyds Bank - Lloyds Student Account

The Lloyds Student Account offers an interest-free arranged overdraft of up to £1,500 in years 1-3 and up to £2,000 in years 4-6. It provides online banking, mobile app support, and integration with Apple Pay and Google Pay for contactless payments. Additionally, students receive mobile alerts for low balances and can enjoy the convenience of managing their finances from anywhere.

  • Must be at least 17 years old or older
  • Must have been living in the UK for at least three years
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate, postgraduate, or any other higher degree that lasts for at least two years
  • Offer an interest rate of 2.00% for the balance between £1 and £5,000.
  • Offer up to 15% cashback on various online payments.
  • Eligible for an interest-free overdraft for a maximum of £2,000

Santander Bank - Santander Student Current Account

 

The Santander Student Current Account, known as the Santander Edge Student current account, offers several key features for students in the UK, including a free 4-year 16-25 Railcard for savings on rail travel and no fees for international withdrawals at Santander ATMs in selected countries. It provides overdraft alerts and the opportunity for interest-free arranged overdrafts, with limits that can increase with your year of study. However, it requires a minimum funding of £500 per academic term and is available only to students meeting specific criteria, such as being over 18 and having a confirmed offer for an undergraduate course or apprenticeship.

  • Must be at least 18 years old or older
  • Can't have a previous student bank account
  • Must pay at least £500 into a bank account every four months to enjoy interest-free and fee-free overdraft
  • Must live in the UK and own the 4-digit UCAS status code
  • Must be a full-time student who is studying for at least two years course

NatWest Bank - NatWest Student Account

The NatWest Student Account offers features tailored for university students, including an easy-to-manage account with an interest-free overdraft option. Students can apply for an overdraft of up to £2,000 starting from their first year, with an increase to up to £3,250 available from the third year onwards. Additionally, the account might offer cashback deals and come with a user-friendly banking app.

  • Must be at least 17 years old or older
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate, postgraduate, or any other higher degree that lasts for at least two years
  • Must use this bank account to pay tuition fees and other expenses relevant to your studies as well as deposit your wages
  • Eligible to enjoy interest-free overdrafts without any monthly fees
  • Must meet the minimum balance, salary, or deposit requirements
  • Have a scope to apply for up to £3250 from the third year

RBS Bank - RBS Student Bank Account

The RBS Student Bank Account is designed to facilitate life in higher education, offering perks like a free 4-year tastecard (valued at £29.99/year). It features an interest-free overdraft option, allowing for up to £2,000 from the first year, though limited to £500 in the first term of the first year.

  • Must be at least 17 years old or older
  • Students who want to apply for overdrafts must be at least 18 years old and living in the UK for at least three years.
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate that lasts a minimum of two years or a postgraduate course that lasts at least one year
  • No fee for opening a bank account, using a mobile app, cash withdrawals, and card payments in pounds
  • £10 monthly fee that will be deducted from the bank account automatically

Nationwide Building Society - FlexStudent Account

The Nationwide Building Society's FlexStudent Account offers interest-free, fee-free overdrafts up to £3,000, aimed at students. To qualify, applicants must be 18 or over, a UK resident for 3+ years, accepted onto a full-time UCAS course of at least 2 years, and cannot have a student or current account with an overdraft elsewhere. The account also features £100 cashback for new openings.

  • Must be at least 18 years old or older
  • Can't have any previous UK student account from any other bank
  • Must have been in the UK for at least three years
  • Can own only one FlexStudent account
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate, postgraduate, or any other higher degree that lasts at least 2 years
  • The maximum limit for the first year is £1,000, the second year is £2,000, and the third year is £3,000
  • Students must pay at least £500 of overdraft in each term
  •  Two students can't own a single FlexStudent account
  • Internet Banking can't be used unless you register it

TSB Bank - TSB Student Bank Account

The TSB Student Bank Account provides financial flexibility with an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,500, starting at £500. Overdraft limits can be increased at 6, 7, and 10 months, subject to application and approval. It's designed to support students' financial management during higher education, offering a generous overdraft without many fees and broad accessibility through numerous branches.

  • Must be at least 17 years old or older or 18+ to qualify for overdraft
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate, postgraduate, or any other higher degree that lasts at least 2 years
  • Must have been in the UK for at least three years
  • Students can get up to £500 for the first six months, £1,000 from 7-9 months, and £1,500 from 10+ months.

Metro Bank - Metro Bank Student Account

Metro Bank offers a variety of banking services suitable for students, though specific details about a "Metro Bank Student Account" weren't directly found in the search results. Metro Bank provides the convenience of opening accounts online with requirements such as an email address, mobile number, photo ID, a device with a camera (at least 4 megapixels), and 3 years of address history. Applicants must be UK, EU, or Swiss nationals.

  • A valid passport along with a current student visa and a letter of acceptance from the UK University or college
  • No exchange rates for using debit cards in the UK or other European countries
  • Must submit your proof of income and proof of identity to apply for a credit card or student loan in the future

Halifax Bank - Halifax Student Current Account

The Halifax Student Current Account offers an interest-free arranged overdraft of up to £1,500 for the duration of your course plus three years post-graduation. It includes free everyday banking with no monthly fee and the opportunity to earn up to 15% cashback at select retailers through Cashback Extras.

  • Must be at least 18 years old or older
  • A full-time student in the UK for an undergraduate, postgraduate, or any other higher degree that lasts at least 2 years
  • Eligible for getting up to £1,500 without any interest while studying in the university or college
  • A contactless Debit Card to use on various payment terminals or card readers
  • Mobile alerts, cashback, cashback extras, and a few other benefits

Alternatives to Opening a UK Bank Account for International Students

Using International Money Transfer Services

International students can use international money transfer services, such as Currencies Direct, TorFX, OFX, Clear Currency, WorldFirst, SEND, etc., to pay accommodation, tuition fees, living costs, and other day-to-day expenses.

Prepaid Debit Cards

International students can use various prepared debit cards, like Mastercard, Visa card, American Express, etc., opened in their countries. They work almost in any standard European bank.

Digital Payment Platforms

International students can utilize various Digital Payment Platforms, such as PayPal, Stripe, GoCardless, WorldPay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc., to pay their accommodation, tuition fees, living costs, and other day-to-day expenses.

Local Bank Accounts in Home Country

Many international banks are operated in Western and Asian countries, such as Standard Chartered, HSBC, Bank of America, CitiGroup, JPMorgan Chase, etc. You can use it from your home country as well as abroad.

Conclusion

Owning a student bank account in the UK as an international student can help you pay for books, tuition, food, rent, and other day-to-day essentials. While shortlisting the best banks in UK for international students, you may have some personal needs and preferences, such as overdraft options, low fees, branch accessibility, online features, student perks, etc. Choose a bank with accessible ATMs and online services to manage finances conveniently while studying in the UK.

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