Best bank accounts for international students in the UK

best uk student bank account
Planning to study in the UK? Manage your finance well by picking the best local bank account. Source: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP

Take a look at your university’s checklist, and you might have noticed this recommendation: set up a bank account. If you are an international student in the UK, you probably wonder: “What is the best UK student bank account?” 

It’s important to set up a UK bank account. Most landlords or accommodation providers prefer payments from a local bank account. If you are working as a student, employers will want to pay your wages into a local bank account. 

Plus, it’s hard to pay for your phone contract, rent and gym membership with an account from your home country. If you forget your PIN code, you might struggle to solve the issue over the phone in another country. 

But with over 300 banks in the UK, how do you know which is the best? Here are our top picks: 

uk student bank account

Check if you need an overdraft and where is the nearest bank branch located before you set up a local bank account. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

4 best UK student bank accounts for international students

1. HSBC bank account for international students

HSBC has a dedicated bank account for international students. Remember that this account does not give you access to any credit facilities, including an overdraft or loans. 

The best part about this bank account is that you can set up this account before you arrive in the UK if you are already an HSBC customer. 

If you expect to send and receive lots of money, know that you will likely pay more international transfer fees with this account. It will cost five pounds to send money to non-HSBC accounts in all other countries and currencies, receive money from countries outside the UK in pounds and receive money from all other countries in all currencies. 

Click here for more information on how to set up an HSBC bank account for international students. 

Generally, you must be aged 18 or over and have proof of address in the UK to set up a local bank account. This applies to all the banks on this list.

2. NatWest Select Account

Studying in Scotland? Consider setting up a select account with NatWest. This account comes with the option of an overdraft. Unlike a student bank account, this overdraft will charge interest which means you will repay more than you borrow. There is also no guarantee that everyone who applies for one will be accepted.

However, there is no monthly fee required to maintain this account. It is also a cheap way to send and receive money across borders, and there is an option to apply for your account online.

With that said, Save the Student recommends students look at the list of proofs of identity that NatWest accepts — especially if they want to apply in person at a NatWest branch.

Click here for more information on NatWest’s Select Account.

uk student bank account

Santander Basic Current Account is suitable for students of people who moved to the UK for work. Source: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

3. Santander Basic Current Account

This account is suitable for students or people who moved to the UK for work. While there is no overdraft option with this account, you can use it to build your UK credit history and increase your chances of getting an overdraft.

That’s not all. You can earn up to 15% cashback when you use your Santander debit card at any major retail store in the UK. Discover more about this cashback here

Note that you must pay a transfer fee of 25 pounds if you send money abroad to all other countries. However, receiving money in any foreign currency is free if the transfers are made electronically rather than by cheque deposit. 

Click here for more information about the Santander Basic Current Account.

4. TSB Spend & Save Account

This bank account is suitable for UK residents aged 18 or over. With this account, you can earn five pounds in cashback for the first six months. All you need to do is make 30 payments or more on your debit card each month. 

The Savings Pot feature will help you save money with an interest of 1.51%. With the Save the Pennies option, you can automatically save money every time you use your debit card. It rounds up payments to the nearest pound and puts away any extra pennies in a Saving Pot or TSB saving account. 

An Auto Balancer feature will help you set a minimum balance for your account. If the balance goes below this minimum amount, money will automatically be moved to a Savings Point to help you avoid going into your overdraft. 

Click here to learn more about the TSB Spend & Save Account.