The best student bank accounts 2019/20

If you're off to university, here are the top bank accounts designed for students.

Getting a decent student bank account should be a top priority, no matter what stage of study you’re at.

Here we explain what you should look out for when comparing bank accounts and round up some of the best deals on offer right now.

If you don't need any further info and just want to see the best accounts out there, head to our best buy tables now (you'll need to click on the 'Student or Graduate Account' tab at the top of the table).

What to look for in a student bank account

As many students will spend at least part of their time at university "in the red", a vital thing to look for in a student bank account is a competitive interest-free overdraft.

The best accounts currently offer fee-free and interest-free overdrafts of up to £3,000.

But this upper limit usually only applies to those in year three (or year four and above if your degree is longer), so it starts off lower and rises with each academic year.

Also, you may not get the maximum overdraft advertised, as your individual limit will be based on your credit score.

Some banks do guarantee to give you this upper limit, so always check whether the overdraft limit on offer with the student bank account is “guaranteed” or only “up to”.

Don't be tempted to exceed your overdraft limit without permission.

And to state the obvious, it's a limit, not a target, as you must pay back all this borrowed money one day.

If you do go overdrawn without permission, you could be charged high rates of interest, and potentially painful penalties on top of this.

After 0% overdrafts, the next feature to consider is credit interest rates (how much you'll be paid when your balance is above zero), as well as freebies, gifts and other incentives.

Convenience does also play a part. Many students may sign up to banks that have branches or cash points on campus, but with internet and mobile banking now so prevalent, there's arguably no need to do so.

Top student bank account picks

At present, HSBC's Student Bank Account leads the way.

It's got one of the highest 0% overdraft limits (alongside Nationwide and Barclays), with access to various discounts.

Not everyone will actually use their overdraft, and if you're working regularly you may find yourself able to save some money. HSBC's account has a matching regular saving account with a decent 3% interest rate.

Some other student bank accounts pay interest, but generally the rates are low or for very small balances, so you won't earn much.

The latest student bank account deals

Here's what's on offer to students today.

We've included any credit interest rate, free overdraft limit and incentives offered, but please bear in mind that these may not be the most important factors for you.

Consider your personal needs – specifically your spending and savings habits – before applying.

If you feel you may need access to extra cash, a fee-free overdraft may be more important.

On the flip side, if you may have extra cash to put aside, a decent interest rate may be at the top of your checklist.

It’s important to make sure you’re not swayed by incentives alone, as these accounts may include less attractive overdrafts with possible charges.

Account

Credit

interest

0%

overdraft

Authorised

overdraft fees/interest

Incentives

HSBC Student Bank Account*

None

Year 1 – at least £1,000 (guaranteed)

Year 2 – up to £2,000

Year 3 – up to £3,000

N/A

Access to various discounts

Access to a 3% regular savings account

Free 12 months British Cycling Fan Membership

Nationwide FlexStudent Account

1% on balances of up to £1,000

Year 1 – £1,000

Year 2 – £2,000

Year 3 – £3,000

N/A

None

Santander 123 Student Current Account

1% on balances over £100

2% on balances over £200

3% on balances from £300 to £2,000

Years 1-3 - £1,500

Year 4 - £1,800

Year 5 - £2,000

N/A

Free 16-25 railcard offering a third off UK rail travel (must register for online banking and pay in at least £500 per academic term to qualify).

NatWest Student Account

None

Up to £2,000 after first term (£500 in the first term)

 

N/A

Choose from a free:

National Express Coach Card offering a third off coach travel for four years;

Amazon Prime Student membership + £10 Amazon gift card or;

 Tastecard for four years (must sign up to receive paperless statements).

Royal Bank of Scotland Student Current Account

None

Up to £2,000 after first term (up to £500 in first term)

N/A

Choose from a free:

National Express Coach Card offering a third off coach travel for four years;

Amazon Prime Student membership + £10 Amazon gift card or;

Tastecard for four years (must sign up to receive paperless statements).

Halifax Student Current Account

0.1%

Up to £1,500

Daily fees over your fee-free overdraft limit

Earn up to 15% cashback when you shop once you’ve registered for Online Banking and activated Cashback Extras.

Eligible account for Save the Change (to help you save spare change)

TSB Student Bank Account

5% on balances of up to £500

Over 10 months on university course - up to £1,500 (up to £500/£1,000 before 10 months)

8.21%, plus £6 monthly usage fee on overdrafts of over £1,500

£10 overdraft buffer

Barclays Student Additions Account

None

Year 1 – up to £1,000

Year 2 – up to £2,000

Year 3 and beyond – up to £3,000

N/A

Access to Barclays Blue Rewards.

Access to cashback scheme.

Personalised debit card.

Lloyds Bank Student Current Account

None

Tiered – up to £1,500 in years 1-3 (lower limit in first 10 months)

Years 4-6 - up to £2,000

Daily fees over your fee-free overdraft limit

Up to 15% cashback via scheme Everyday Offers.

Bank of Scotland Student Account

None

Years 1-3 – up to £1,500

Years 4-6 – up to £2,000

Daily fees over your fee-free overdraft limit

Up to 15% cashback via scheme Everyday Offers.

First Trust Bank Student + Account

None

Up to £1,850

N/A

Commission-free foreign currency.

Ulster Bank Student Account

None

Up to £1,000 (Higher limit for certain degrees)

N/A

Commission-free foreign currency.


Bear in mind that these deals could be altered at short notice

*Apprentices can only apply in an HSBC branch

Where is Monzo?

You may be wondering why Monzo, Starling or Revolut haven't been included in this comparison.

Although these banks have great mobile apps, and advantages for frequent travellers, they don't currently offer interest-free overdrafts, or any of the perks mentioned above.

There is, however, nothing stopping you having two bank accounts and transferring money between them.

Feel free to move

Signing up to one bank's student account does not mean that you have to stick with it for life.

You can switch student accounts from one year to the next, as well as moving to a top graduate account once you've got your degree.

For more on graduate accounts, take a look at the best graduate current accounts.

Or if you're looking for unusual ways to make cash, get some ideas at Students: 10 quirky ways to make money and boost your CV.

More on student finance:

Money saving tips for students

Is a £3,000 student overdraft a good idea?

How should students insure their possessions?

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