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The Tab guide to the best student bank accounts

Let’s cut the chase, where has the best freebies?

Congrats, you've got into uni. Next stop: unlimited VK in the Students' Union bar during Freshers' Week whilst you tell your mum you've met some really great people and learnt loads about uni culture already. The last thing on your mind is the best student bank accounts.

However, you do need to face the small issue of banking – which yes is really boring, but it is vital you have somewhere to store your meal deal and alcohol funds.

Whether you're getting money off your parents, making it yourself or you've accepted that you're probs never going to have more than £10 to your name throughout uni, it's wise to have a bank account – just in case there's anything to put in there.

So you don't have to deal with any awkward encounters with intimidating sales advisors throwing numbers at you, here's a run down of the accounts out there.

What are the best student bank accounts?


The HSBC account is a favourite with MoneySavingExpert. It has a guaranteed £1,000 overdraft with no interest in your first year.

You have the option to up your overdraft to £2,000 in second year and £3,000 in third year – although the amount you'll get in those years isn't guaranteed like it is in first year – it's an 'up to' amount, based on your credit score.

HSBC also offer "student exclusives" which includes things like money off National Express, cheap pizza deals and cheap cinema tickets. It might make a nice change from value penne pasta in front of The Chase every night to actually treat yourself to some decent food – just a thought.

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You can get cheap pizza deals with HSBC


Also a MoneySavingExpert favourite because of its no interest overdraft which increases throughout your study.

With the Nationwide account you can have an £1,000 overdraft in your first year, which you can request to increase to £2,000 in second year and £3,000 in third year. That's like a £3,000 cushion to support your developing takeaway and alcohol obsession – perfect.

Other banks may advertise higher amounts, but these are 'up tos'. With Nationwide these are guaranteed amounts that you will get – as long as you pay in at least £500 per term – i.e. your student finance or money from parents or earnings.

You also earn one per cent interest on balances up to £1,000.


The final favourite of MoneySavingExpert, with this account you automatically get a no interest £250 overdraft when you open it. Then you could be eligible for an up to £1,500 no interest overdraft for three years.

Plus, a three per cent AER on balances from £300 up to a maximum of £2,000. You can ask your mum what that means – but it's a pretty good rate.

This account is a "top pick" with Save The Student. Santander is always a popular one because of their free railcard which they throw in – great for promising all your school friends you'll come and visit them at uni, which you won't.

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Defo in her overdraft


With Natwest you can get a £2,000 no interest overdraft.

You can apply for a £500 interest free student overdraft for your first term, with the option to increase up to £2,000 in your second.

Natwest also won 'Best Banking App' in 2017 and 2018, so you can check how poor you are on the go and all the time!!

Note: you must put £750 into the account every six months – like your loan etc – and make three transactions a month to get any overdraft with this account at all.


When you open this account with Barclays, you automatically get an interest free £500 overdraft.

You can request for this to be increased to £1,000 for your first year, £2,000 for your second and £3,000 for your third. However, again, these are 'up to' interest rates and are not guaranteed – they're based on your credit score.

With this account you can also get cashback from participating online and high-street stores when you shop.


The RBS student account no interest overdraft has a little bit of a lower limit, of £2,000, however your chance of obtaining it are easier – as being eligible for this amount is based off fewer factors.

Your overdraft is £500 in your first term, but after then you have the option to increase it up to the £2,000 limit.

Again with this one you must put £750 into the account every six months and make at least three monthly transactions to get any overdraft at all.


The Halifax account advertises an interest free overdraft up to £1,500 – but this is an 'up to' amount and is pretty hard to get in full because it's done case by case and judged on your credit score and spending.

Halifax also do a cash back scheme, where you can get cash back when you spend in places like Superdrug and Morrisons.

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They've probs used their student railcard to go somewhere fun!!!!


The Lloyds overdraft is another one that is tiered, and builds up as you study. It's £500 in the first six months, £1,000 from months seven to nine and £1,500 after that.

This might seem quite low, but let's do the maths. If a VK on average is £3, that's going to get you 500 VKs. That's like nine a week, hmm maybe enough???


Another student account where the no interest overdraft is tiered, with this one it starts as £500 for the first six months, then you can apply to increase it to £1,010 in months seven to nine and from month ten up to £1,510.

TSB also advertise that Apple Pay and Google Pay are available with the account, which is perfect for when you buy everyone a round in the SU and don't even want to know how much it's cost.

Which student bank accounts come with freebies – like a free railcard?

Of course one of the top things that pulls you in to a student bank account is the freebies – and the banks know it. So a lot of the accounts come with gifts and perks that will make you want to choose their account over any others.

You can get an £80 Amazon voucher and free Amazon student Prime for a year with HSBC, a four year railcard with Santander, a National Express coach card, or a Tastecard, or a one year Amazon Student account and £10 voucher with both NatWest and RBS, or an NUS extra card with Lloyds bank.

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It looks so much better when it's free

Can you have two student bank accounts?

A common question is whether or not you can open multiple student bank accounts at once. It will be listed in the bank account T&Cs whether or not you can open another account when you already have one.

Usually the answer is no – but a common condition when this might not be the case is if you open one without the "special student facilities". These means you won't benefit from the perks of the account that are there to attract students e.g. the large overdrafts or freebies.

What do you need to open the account?

UK students are required to have: photo ID, proof of address and proof of university status – an acceptance letter or UCAS offer letter.

Related articles recommended by this writer:

1) Outed: The unis where students get the most money off their parents

2) These are the best ways to make money as a student

3) How to budget at uni