Top 10 Best Banks in UK For International StudentsDr Shafiq
Studying in the UK can be a great experience, but a pretty expensive one as well. Choosing the right bank will allow you to save money. Among so many different banks in the UK, some are better suited for international students. Here, I’ll walk you through the best banks in UK for international students. Let’s dive in.
Why Open a British Bank Account?
Bank is the safest option for international students for financial transactions. All international students in the UK should open British bank accounts for many reasons.
- Security: Banks in the UK are very secure and have multiple layers of security. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which shows that your money is safe.
- Convenience: Having a British bank account while studying in the UK will allow you to manage your finances easily. With a local bank account, you can send and receive money as well as make any transaction without any hassle.
- International-student-specific Banking Services: A lot of banks in the United Kingdom provide students accounts for international students with many student-centric features and benefits. The services can include cashback on purchases and payments, discounts, and overdrafts.
- Making Credit History: With a bank account in the UK, you can build your credit history. It will come in handy when you apply for a loan or credit card in the future.
Advantages of Managing Finances in Local Currency
The best thing about having a local bank account while studying in the UK is that you can manage your finances in local currencies, which has many benefits. Here are some benefits of managing finances in local currencies:
- You do not have to pay currency exchange fees every time you withdraw money or make any payments.
- You won’t get a good exchange rate in agencies. Using a local currency bank will give you a better exchange rate.
- You can easily track your expenses when you are making all your transitions in the same currency.
Access to Student-Specific Banking Services and Benefits
International students in the UK have access to many student-specific banking services. The best banks in UK for students design their services keeping in mind the needs and wants of students. As a result, students can enjoy several benefits, such as:
- Cashbacks on purchases or payments
- Free overdrafts
- Discounts on purchases and payments
Things To Consider When Opening a Bank Account
Legal and Regulatory Requirements for Opening A Bank Account in the UK
There are some legal and regulatory requirements that you must consider in opening a bank account in the UK. Again, some banks have specific requirements for international students. For example, you might have to provide a letter from your university to confirm your enrollment. Make sure to follow all the legal and regulatory requirements.
Types of Bank Accounts Available for International Students
International students can choose from several bank account types while opening an account at a local British bank. You will have to figure out which options suit your needs:
- Students Accounts
- Current Accounts
- Savings Accounts
Currency Exchange Rates and International Transaction Fees
While using a bank account in the UK, you have to consider the currency exchange rates and international transaction fees. Remember, both these fees can vary depending on your bank, the type of transaction, and which currencies you are exchanging.
Overdraft Facilities and Interest Rates
Many banks in the United Kingdom offer overdraft facilities and high-interest rates to international students. Some of these banks even offer 0% interest rates. So, make sure to consider these two factors while choosing a bank in the UK.
Account Maintenance Fees and Charges
Most banks in the UK charge a yearly maintenance fee for international students. Some even charge monthly fees. These fees can vary depending on your bank and account type.
How To Open A Bank Account In The UK
Opening a bank account has several steps. As an international student, you have to follow some procedures and fulfill some requirements. Here is a step-by-step process for opening a bank account in the UK as an international student:
- Firstly, you have to choose a bank. There are a handful of banks in the UK. Make sure to choose one that has the best international student-specific benefits.
- Then gather all the necessary documents that you will need to provide to the bank. Different bank requires different types of documents, but the common documents include your passport, visa, proof of address, and your student ID.
- After that, you have to decide whether you want to open an in-person bank account or an online account. If you choose an in-person option, you will have to go to the nearest branch.
- Finally, you have to fill out the application form and submit it to the bank with all the necessary documents. It typically takes a few days to set up an account.
Documents and Identification Required
You will have to provide some supporting documents and your identification to open a bank account in the UK. Here are some documents that all UK banks ask for from international students:
- Your Passport
- Student visa
- Proof of your address in the UK
- Your student ID card
Proof of Student Status and Enrollment
Most banks in the UK will ask for proof of your student status and enrollment while opening a bank account in the UK. You can show your student ID or an offer letter from your university or college as proof. But some banks may require a letter from your university or college to confirm your identity and enrollment.
Choosing Between In-Person and Online Account Opening Methods
Choosing between an in-person and online account can be a challenge because both have some benefits and drawbacks. If you choose an in-person account, you will have to visit a branch and provide all your documents. A bank representative will help you with all the procedures.
If you choose to open an account online, you will have to visit the bank’s website and submit your documents there. The bank authority will verify your document and open your account.
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Best Bank Accounts for International Students In UK
HSBC is one of the best banks in the UK for international students because of its innovative banking ideas and international-student centric benefits. The bank has two account options for international students studying in the UK.
One is the HSBC International Student Account, and the other one is HSBC Premier International Student Account. Both are current accounts with their own features and benefits.
Here are the features, benefits, and eligibility criteria for HSBC international student accounts:
|No monthly maintenance fees. |
Free ATM withdrawal in the UK and abroad.
On-demand interest-free overdraft.
Priority customer service for specific accounts.
Competitive exchange rates.
|Access to the global HSBC network of branches and ATMs. |
Online and mobile banking through websites and apps.
Dedicated customer service team for specific account types.
24/7 customer service.
|18 years of age or over.|
Enrolled full-time at UK universities and colleges.
A valid ID card for identification.
A valid student visa Have a UK address.
Creating an account at HSBC is a straightforward process. You have to fill out an application form and submit all the supporting documents. A representative from the bank will collect your application and other documents and proceed to create the account.
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of HSBC Bank for international students:
|No maintenance fees. |
Online or mobile banking.
Arranged overdraft at interest-free rates.
Free ATM withdrawal from any part of the world.
|Charges fees for some international transactions. |
Some international student account requires a minimum monthly deposit.
Another best bank for international students in UK is Barclays. It offers one account for international students, which is called the Barclays Student Additions Account. This current account is an excellent choice for student life.
Following are the features, benefits, and eligibility criteria for opening a bank account at Barclays:
|Interest-free overdraft up to GBP 1,500. |
Free ATM cash withdrawal in the UK.
Competitive exchange rates.
|No monthly maintenance cost. |
Online banking through apps and websites.
Access to the bank’s global networks and ATMs.
24/7 customer support.
|Must be 18 years of age.|
Live in the UK for a minimum of 3 years.
Studying full-time in the UK.
Have a UK address.
Barclays has both in-person and online digital banking options. You will need the following documents to open a bank account in Barclays:
- A valid passport with a UK student visa
- Proof of your UK address
- Your student ID and enrollment documents
Here are some pros and cons of the Barclays international student account:
|No monthly maintenance cost. |
Excellent exchange rate.
Digital banking availability.
|Limited branches. |
Some international transactions require fees.
Santander is a large retail and commercial bank and a good option for international students. Its 1|2|3 Student Current Account is designed for the specific needs of international students in the UK.
Following are the features, benefits, and eligibility criteria for opening a bank account at Santander Bank.
|Interest-free arranged overdraft from GBP 1,500 onward. |
Free ATM cash withdrawals in the UK and overseas.
Online banking and Mobile banking facilities.
24/7 customer service.
|A free Santander 16-25 Railcard for 4 years.|
Cashback, vouchers, and personalized offers.
Competitive exchange rates.
|Be at least 18 years old. |
A full-time student in UK universities or colleges
Pays at least GBP 500 into the account every 4 months.
This Santander account is a paper-free account. So, everything is done digitally. Nonetheless, you need to provide the following documents:
- Your passport with a UK student visa
- Proof of your address in the UK, such as utility bills.
- Student ID or enrollment proof.
Here are the pros and cons of Santander Bank for international students in the UK:
|Zero monthly maintenance cost |
16-25 Railcard for 4 years.
Mobile banking and Online banking through apps and websites.
Cashbacks and personalized offers.
|Fewer branches. |
International transactions require some fees.
Other Recommended Bank Accounts for International Students
Lloyds Bank is another best bank for international students. It has two account options for international students:
- Lloyds Classic Account
- Lloyds Bank International Student Account
These two bank accounts offer many benefits for international students studying in the UK. Both accounts have no monthly fees, mobile banking option, or contactless debit card, and the latter has an interest-free overdraft option of up to GBP 1,000.
NatWest is another best bank for students. It also has two account options for international students:
- NatWest International Student Account: this is similar to the Lloyds Bank International Student Account and offers up to 1,000 GBP interest-free overdraft. You will also get a contactless debit card and mobile banking option.
- NatWest Reward Account: this account is good for students who want to earn rewards. It also offers cashback, travel insurance, and other benefits.
It is another best UK bank for international students. You will get two types of accounts from Nationwide:
- Nationwide FlexAccount
- Nationwide FlexDirect Account
Both are good options for international students who are looking for flexible accounts with no monthly fees.
The TSB is one of the best banks for students in the UK. Two account options include TSB Spend and Save Account and TSB Classic Account. Both accounts have several student-centric features like no maintenance cost, a contactless debit card, mobile banking, online banking, etc.
Metro Bank Current Account is a pretty good option for international students because of its convenient features. You will get 24/7 access to your funds, contactless debit card, mobile banking, and online banking options.
Co-operative Bank Current Account is another good UK bank account for international students. It features ethical banking with a contactless debit card, mobile banking, and online banking.
Clydesdale Bank Classic Account is a good option for international students who want a basic account with no maintenance cost. Like other student-centric accounts, it also offers a contactless debit card and online banking.
International Account Reviews
Most international students in the UK have expressed that they are satisfied with the overall banking services. The customer service experience is also up to the mark in most cases. But some students have expressed their dissatisfaction because of high fees and below-average customer service.
However, students who considered fees, customer service, features, and overall experience while choosing a bank did not face any issues later.
Alternatives To Opening A UK Bank Account
Here are some alternatives to opening a bank account in the UK:
- Prepaid debit cards for international students: they need not be linked with a bank account. Students can make purchases, pay bills, and withdraw cash from these cards.
- International money transfer services: another good alternative to a bank account, offering competitive exchange rates and low fees.
- Digital banking and fintech solutions for international students: you can maintain multi-currency accounts at low fees and online banking facilities.
A bank account will come in very handy for managing your funds while studying in the UK. Now that you know the best banks in UK for international students, you can easily pick one that suits your needs. For further information, reach out to your chosen bank’s help desk or customer service.