Living away from home, making new friends, revising for exams.... There are so many exciting and scary - things about starting university. For many young people, it can be the first time they need to think seriously about their finances and monitor their spending. Of course, our free budgeting software makes life that little bit easier, and with our low-down on the top 5 student bank accounts, there's one less thing to worry about.
It's generally not a good idea to be seduced by a bank's freebie offers, but in this case, looking for the best freebie could mean fantastic savings. Having taken over the contract with National Rail from their rivals at NatWest, Santander are now offering a four-year Young Person's Railcard for anyone who opens a Student Account with them. Worth more than £120, the Railcard will save a savvy student a third on rail tickets so whether you're homesick or jetting off to the nearest city for a club night, it may pay to bank with Santander.
What's more, as long as you pay in at least £500 per term (significantly less than most loan instalments), you can also secure an interest-free overdraft of £1,500, and earn 1% interest on balances up to £500.
2. Co-operative Bank
If peace of mind and some extra emergency cash are the most important considerations for you, then the Co-operative Bank Student Account is a good option. The Co-op have always appealed to customers with their ethical practices, but they've also won awards for great customer service, and are currently offering one of the best interest-free overdrafts around. Starting at £1,400 in the first year of the course, the allowance steadily increases up to £2,000 in the third year, with nine out of 10 account holders being granted the full amount.
NatWest may have lost out on one of their main attractions (the 16-25 Railcard), but they still offer decent customer service and a good interest-free overdraft. In order to avoid tempting first-year spending sprees, they've staggered their overdraft limit over three terms, with £500 in the first term moving up to £1000 in the third. From then on, the amount increases each year, reaching a maximum of £2,000 in year five. NatWest are also offering a free Tastecard worth £79.99, which provides two for one and 50% off deals in restaurants around the country.
For a reliable bank with some decent offers, students can do worse than to bank with Lloyds. With a £1,500 interest-free overdraft starting from the first year of a course, there's a financial buffer for students right from the beginning, but Lloyds also assist with budgeting by raising the overdraft limit steadily over three terms. As a freebie, the bank are offering free NUS Extra cards worth £12 per year, which give students good discounts on a range of necessities.
Along with Halifax, HSBC offers the highest overdraft limit of £3,000 for student account holders but be warned, only the first £500 is guaranteed, and students will have to apply for further extensions. They do, however, offer a pretty solid 2% interest on balances in credit, which could help stretch that student loan a little bit further, as well as 18 free album downloads over three years.
Posted by Marc Murphy