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How to open a bank account in the UK as an international student

Learn the details of opening a bank account in the UK as an international student.

In this article:

Why should you open a bank account in the UK?

If the bank you currently use operates in the UK, you can decide to use the same account. But if your bank doesn't, it is always better to open a new bank account once you move to the UK because:

  • You will have to pay currency conversion charges every time you use your credit/debit card.
  • It will complicate many everyday tasks like sending money to friends, getting paid in your part-time job, paying rent and other bills.
  • You will have to note the currency fluctuation to maintain your budget. 

What are the required documents?

  • Passport
  • Visa and immigration papers
  • Proof of address
  • Student ID from your university
  • Bank statements from your home bank 

Some banks might also ask for additional documents. Visit the bank’s website to get all your documents together.

How to open a new bank account in the UK?

Some banks do let you open a bank account online through their website, but the process might be a bit simpler if you do it in person. 

Contact the bank and book an appointment. Take all the required documents and go to the bank to start the process. Opening a bank account as an international student can take a few weeks, so it is important to begin the process as soon as you land in the UK. 

What should you think about before choosing your bank?

  • Account type

There are mainly two types of accounts in the UK, 

  1. Current account – Lets you withdraw and deposit cash. You will also receive a debit card after opening the account. This type of account is very apt for an international student. 
  2. Saving account – This type of account is primarily meant for depositing and saving money, but you can make withdrawals too. This account will be apt for you if you are working part-time and looking to save some money. 

Though these are the main types of accounts available in the UK, many banks also offer student and international student accounts. These accounts can be more beneficial in terms of offers and incentives directed towards students.

  • Location

Find a bank with a branch near your university. You may find your university has a branch inside one of its buildings. 

  • International transfer fee

Banks usually charge an international transfer fee of about 6% when you transfer money from one country to another. Once you move to the UK, you will likely send and receive money from your home country. Before finalising your bank, find the exact percentage of the fee and compare it with other prospective banks.

  • Offers and perks

Most banks offer perks and incentives to different accounts. For instance, many banks give cashback offers or shopping subsidies to student account holders. Choose the bank that offers the best possible deal for you. 

  • Overdraft

Overdrafts, though helpful in times of need, can be a bit tricky to maintain. If your account has an overdraft of £100, you can withdraw and spend £100 after you’ve run out of your own money. You can later pay this back to the bank with interest. 

Most banks do not offer a huge overdraft for student accounts, and the interest rates can also be high. But if this is something that you are looking for, you need to research before taking it up. 

Top banks in the UK:

HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Bank, RBS, NatWest, Nationwide and Santander are some of the banks you can check out before choosing the right one for you.