How to choose between student bank accounts
There's so much to think about when you're getting ready to go to university. Getting the right student bank account, understanding how it can help you out and making the most of the freebies you get from it should be on your list too.
The best thing about a student account is the free overdraft it gives you; regular bank accounts charge for this. It might not seem like a big deal now, but by the end of your first year you'll be grateful.
What's an overdraft?
It's a way to borrow money from your current account. It gives you extra flexibility because it lets you spend more money than you actually have.
Let's say you have £50 in your account and you pay for something that costs £60. If you have an overdraft the payment will go through and your new balance will be - £10. Without an overdraft the payment would get declined because you haven't got enough cash to cover it
Your bank will set you an overdraft limit - this is the most you are allowed to borrow. If you go over your limit (crazily they let you do this) you will be charged hefty fees and could hurt your credit rating.
Most ordinary bank accounts charge interest and daily fees on your overdraft but almost all student accounts let you borrow up to your limit interest and fee free.
Student accounts will increase your overdraft limit each year of your course so you can borrow more. Aim to find account with the biggest limit or the longest guaranteed 0%, unless freebies trump it.
Although it might feel like free money, you will have to pay your overdraft back after you've graduated. So although you'll be given a big limit, try not to see it as a target and only borrow what you actually need.
Questions to ask yourself when comparing student bank accounts:
• How big an interest free overdraft will I get and does it increase each year I am studying?
• How much will I be charged if I go over my overdraft limit and will they warn me before I do?
• Is it compatible with Apple and Android Pay?
• Do I get a contactless card?
• Does the bank charge for any services and is there a monthly charge?
• Will I get paid interest on any money I pay in?
• Do I need to pay in a certain amount each month?
• Does the bank have a decent online banking app?
Banks will do everything they can to entice you into taking out a student account with them.
They'll offer of railcards, gift vouchers and even cold hard cash to win you over. It might seem tempting but you should weigh up whether or not those things will save you more money in the long run vs a better overdraft deal.
If two accounts offer like for like accounts then choose the one with the freebie that will save you the most money in the long run.
You can compare every student bank account out there is in our comparison and quickly find the one that suits you the best.