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Managing Your Student Finances in the UK

Opening a bank here in the UK is the easiest and safest way to manage your money. We have compiled a step-by-step guide of what you’ll need to know when opening your UK bank account, from documentation right through to payment transfers.


Which bank should I choose?

With so many banks to choose from in the UK, it can be a little daunting to choose the right one.

It’s important to do your research when choosing which bank & account type is best suited to you. If you go for one of the popular high street banks, you’re more likely to have a branch nearby wherever you go, which is ideal.

Some of the most popular high-street  banks are:


RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)






Lloyds Bank


How do I open a bank account? 

When it comes to opening a bank account, you’ll need to visit the bank in person with the correct documentation so that they can verify your identity.


Each bank has its own criteria to meet, however, for the most part, you will need the following:


Proof of UK residence

This can be shown the following form:

•    Utility bills

•    The leasing agreements from student accommodation


Proof of Identity

This can be shown in the following form:


•    Current passport

•    Student visa

•    Driving license

•    A non-UK national photocard ID card


Proof that you’re a student

This can be shown in the following form:


•    UCAS letter

•    Student ID card

•    University confirmation letter


Anything else?

As an international UK student, you might be able to prevent the tax from being deducted from any interest earned from having the money within your account. It’s worth asking your chosen bank about this and also requesting an R105 form.

For online & telephone banking, some banks may require extra proof of ID, so it’s worth thinking ahead and making sure you’re fully aware of all banking requirements before your move.


What kind of bank accounts can international students choose from?

As an international student, you’ll be surprised to know that there are numerous types of accounts available for you to choose from.


Basic account

A basic account is an easy access route to your money as it allows you the following:


•    A debit card to use online or in store

•    Easy access to withdraw money from bank branches, cash machines as well as post offices

•    The ability to set up direct debits and standing orders so you’ll never miss a payment

More information on basic UK current accounts can be accessed here.


Current account

A current account is very much like your basic account, however, you have the potential to access credit such as arranged overdrafts.


In some countries, a ‘current account’ is also known as ‘checking account’.


Savings account

If you think you’ll be saving money during your time in the UK, it’d be wise to sign up to a savings account so that you can deposit money to save rather than spend, spend, spend.


Generally speaking, you’ll pay a higher rate of interest to have a savings account.


International students bank account

There are a number of banks that have designed accounts specifically for international students which have numerous useful features.

Although these accounts usually have a small monthly fee attached, they provide great benefits such as cheaper international fees.


International Student Bank Account 

There are numerous UK banks that also provide accounts based on Sharia principles, so it’s worth making sure this is the case before you take out an account with your preferred financial agent.


Banking terms explained 


The following glossary will help you understand some of the terms used when it comes to opening up your UK student account.


Account holder

The person(s) designated and authorised to transact on behalf of the account.


Automated Teller Machine - (ATM)

A machine that is activated by a magnetic code on bank card that can process a variety of banking transactions.

These include withdrawing money, accepting deposits and transferring money between accounts.


Bank statement

Periodically, the bank will provide a statement of all deposits, withdrawals and statements made as well as stating the current balance.



The name of the person or organisation who is due to receive funds from another account.



A direct payment that comes out of your bank account which is arranged by the organisation which receives the money, with the express agreement of the account holder.






When the amount of money withdrawn from an account is greater than the amount available within the account, you can arrange a certain excess amount that the account can go over by. This is the ‘overdraft’, and when users are within their ‘overdraft’ they are said to be ‘overdrawn’.


Standing order

An instruction by the account holder to the bank to pay a fixed amount of money regularly to another account.


Variable rate

Interest rate or dividend that changes periodically