Students in full time higher education can usually apply for a student bank account. It’s important to shop around and compare the accounts on offer.
You will probably need a bank letter confirming your student status in order to open a student bank account. Pop into the Student Centre with your St George’s ID and a bank letter can be printed while you wait.
Lots of banks will offer freebies to entice you to open an account with them, but it’s important to see past these. The interest-free overdraft is by far the best long-term perk of student accounts, so it’s important to compare these when choosing which bank to go with. The amount of overdraft on offer will probably be the most important factor, but don’t forget to also check how long the overdraft will remain interest free after you finish the course. Remember – you will need to pay the overdraft off once you are working! You can compare student bank accounts on sites like MoneySavingExpert and the Money Advice Service.
Wherever possible, sign up to internet and mobile banking so that you can view your balance and transactions at your convenience.
If you cannot use internet banking, arrange for your paper statements to be sent as often as possible (usually this is monthly). Check your statements regularly to keep track of your spending and to identify any errors.
Make sure you never exceed your agreed overdraft limit, as this will result in high charges for unauthorised borrowing. If you are concerned that you are nearing your limit, contact the bank to ask if you can extend the agreed overdraft amount (remember to also ask what implications this will have for the overdraft available to you in subsequent years).
If you do receive any charges for unauthorised borrowing, call the bank to see whether they will remove these (if it’s just a one-off, they often will).
Try to avoid credit cards as much as possible. Ensure that you have explored every other avenue before applying for any sort of credit card (even if it is initially interest-free). Have a think about:
- completing a budget plan at Student Calculator to identify where you can make savings
working part time to supplement your student finance/NHS bursary
sourcing additional support from parents/partner/spouse/other family member
enquiring about your eligibility for hardship funds from the university
searching for extra funding from charities using sites such as The Scholarship Hub and Grant Search at Turn2Us.