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The dreaded student bank account hunt: Part 2.

1 Sep

Right, time for Part 2 of the student bank account saga.

In Part 1, we talked about what banks have to offer students and now it is time to get down to the nitty gritty facts and figures.

Skip to the bottom of this post to see our round-up of the best student accounts at the moment.

So there are nine high street banks who offer student bank accounts.
These are (in alphabetical order just to be fair!):
Barclays
Co-operative
Halifax
HSBC
Lloyds TSB
Natwest
RBS
Santander
Smile

We shall briefly outline the first year overdraft limits, how much the overdraft can rise to, interest rates, what freebies are on offer and where you can find out more information. Unless otherwise stated, all of the accounts require you to be a student studying for a degree or equivalent course. Most require you to be over 18, but a couple say 17 and a half. It’s really important to check how much the bank expects you to deposit and whether they need to see proof from UCAS. All that information is easily accessible via the links provided below.

Here we go!

Barclays:
Account name: Student Additions
First year interest free overdraft limit: Initially £200, can be increased.
Maximum interest free overdraft: up to £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0% (*we keep our promises – see glossary for interest rates/AER definition).
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 8.9%
Any freebies available?: Offers with Phones 4 U.
More information please!

Co-operative:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1400
Maximum interest free overdraft: £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 9.9%
Any freebies available?: None
More information please!

Halifax:
Account name: Student Current Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £500 initially, more can be requested.
Maximum interest free overdraft: £3000
In-credit interest rate: 0.1%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 7.2%
Any freebies available?: 25% discount with the AA, 20% discount with their card care insurance scheme.
More information please!

HSBC:
Account name: Student Bank Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 2% on balances up to £1000 (first year only), 0% on all other balances.
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: HSBC base rate plus 3%
Any freebies available?: Two years worldwide travel insurance. Free TalkTalk sim card.
More information please!

Lloyds TSB:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1500 tiered through first year
Maximum interest free overdraft: £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0.1%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 8.2%
Any freebies available?: NUS extra card for 3 years, NYA membership for 3 years. 40 free music downloads plus free mini speaker.
More information please!

Natwest:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000 tiered by term
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2,000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 0.1%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 17.81% plus £5 per unpaid item.
Any freebies available?: 5 year young person’s railcard. Student discount card. £100 off ASUS laptop.
More information please!

Royal Bank of Scotland:
Account name: Student Royalties
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000 tiered over 3 terms.
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 0% from 22 September
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 17.81% plus £5 per unpaid item.
Any freebies available?: Scottish students: travel package including 3 year Young Person’s railcard and 4 weeks free bus travel. Student discount card and £100 off Asus laptops. English and Welsh students: Student discount card and £100 off Asus laptops.
More information please!

Santander:
Account name: Student Current Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1,000
Maximum interest free overdraft: £1500 for 3 year degrees, £2000 for 5 years.
In-credit interest rate: 2% on balances up to £500, no interest paid on balances above £500
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 9.9%
Any freebies available?: 3 years of insurance for customer’s laptop, mobile phones and gadgets.
More information please!

Smile:
Account name: Student Account
First year interest free overdraft limit: £1000
Maximum interest free overdraft: £2000
In-credit interest rate: 0.12%
Interest on overdrafts over the 0% limit: 15.9% plus £30 per unpaid item.
Any freebies available?: None
More information please!

Wow, so that’s a lot of information for you to digest.

We’ve had a good browse and put together a few ‘best for…’ suggestions:

Best for…students who need the overdraft:
Halifax with up to £3000 overdraft.

Best for…students who will stay ‘in the black’:
HSBC for the first year at 2% for balances up to £1000…reassess after your first year. If you don’t want to have to change, then Smile at 0.12% is the best for you.

It may be worthwhile looking at standard current accounts if you are not going to need the interest free overdrafts found on student accounts. However, be warned that if you find yourself needing an overdraft on a ‘normal’ account, that the interest rates can be very high.

Best for…freebies:
On face value – Natwest’s railcard offer is still the best (valued at £130). Many students already have these though, so consider using the discounts or insurance offered by other banks if you do.

Hopefully this blog has helped to explain a the accounts that are on offer for you.

For explanations of interest rates, AER and some of the other technical jargon – have a peek at our glossary.

Don’t forget to let us know which bank account you chose and why!

The dreaded student bank account hunt: Part 1.

1 Sep

It is that wonderful time of year again – September, University students across the country are stirring from their summer slumber and remembering where their text books are. Meanwhile, a whole bunch of fresh faced young new blood are buying saucepans and bed covers whilst Mum panics about whether they can feed themselves. Of course, whilst priorities differ between students and parents, one thing that is usually always high on both lists is a student bank account.

There are several options out there on the high street with each one having its own set of pros and cons.

We are going to introduce you to a few of them and hopefully help you work out which is the best account for you.

This is going to be a two-part blog entry so that we don’t baffle your brains too much. If you just want to know about the bank accounts then head to Part 2, where each of the 9 High Street banks that offer student accounts are profiled.

Back to Part 1…

Before we dive into naming banks and talking numbers, it’s worthwhile us outlining the different features of a student bank account and how they work.

Why do banks bother with students?

Banks know a few things about students and why they are beneficial to have on the books. Students are going to gain a degree, therefore generally are going to earn more than their peers who don’t have a degree. Most people don’t like faffing about with changing bank accounts as it takes a lot of organisation and hassle. Therefore, banks know if they can hook students in early, they will probably hold on to them when that student becomes a young professional. They also know that most students will end up having some sort of overdraft that as soon as they graduate, the bank can start charging interest on. Money in their pocket!

What do the banks offer?

The first thing that you usually see when you hit a bank’s website is the freebies they are offering…this year it ranges from railcards, mobile and laptop insurance to travel insurance and ‘exclusive’ discounts. Some of these are genuinely going to be useful but it is important to look beyond these and have a proper look at the account underneath. If you look at the freebies as a way to discern between two similar accounts, then you will probably get a better deal than just jumping at the first offer that seems attractive.

Probably the most important feature of a student bank account is the overdraft. Nine high street banks offer student accounts with an interest-free overdraft which has a variable limit (usually dependent on your year of study but may also depend on a credit check).

The amount of overdrafts offered vary from £500 in your first year through to £3000 in your final year. Check out part 2 to see what is offered bank to bank.

If you are the rare breed of student that is mostly or always going to be in the black, then it is worth looking at the interest offered on your positive balance. Again, varying from bank to bank and profiled in Part 2.

Of course, this isn’t just for new students, it can be beneficial for existing students to switch too. Talk to your bank, they are surprisingly helpful and many even offer free financial advice for students.

It needn’t be as scary as it seems!

Part 2 of this blog is coming up…exactly what do the banks offer?

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