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Student banking

With the cost of living and studying on the increase, university life can hit your bank balance hard. The most important thing to remember is that a little bit of housekeeping can go a long way...

Student banking tips
  • When choosing your bank, don’t be swayed by freebies. Think carefully about what you need from an account - whether it’s an interest free overdraft, online banking or a branch near campus.
  • Speak to the bank if you're worried you might go over your overdraft limit. The charges can hurt.
  • Beware of credit cards. You could end up paying as much again on interest.
  • Try to keep savings or some 'emergency money' separate in case you need it.
  • If you’re travelling, bring travellers cheques rather than cash. It's safer.
  • International students should also be aware of bank charges. Find out how much you will be charged for international money transfers overdrafts etc.
  • Use online banking. It's easier for you to keep an eye on your finances, and saves time. Most major banks will offer online access and smartphone apps.
  • If you save some money before you start, it can really help. After the first year when your studies get more intensive, you may not find time to earn extra money.
Student banking deals
Pubs and clubs aren’t the only people falling over themselves to give special deals to students. Banks love to tempt students in the hope of getting a customer for life, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to get the best deal for you.

Which account is best for you will depend on your circumstances and priorities, but here are some of the perks banks will often offer.
Interest-free overdraft
It’s very easy to slip into debt by going overdrawn, and if you can’t get back in the black quickly you’ll start paying interest or overdraft charges.. With most student accounts, however, you’ll be given a certain amount of interest-free overdraft, meaning if you do slip into the red you’ve got plenty of time to get your finances in order .

Interest-free overdrafts can be a lifesaver, and many will last until a year after you graduate. Remember, though, that you should never rely on your overdraft: however good your bank account is, it’s always dangerous to spend more than you have. Nonetheless, this can help you avoid financial disasters like an expensive payday loan.
Discount cards
Student accounts often include vouchers and discount offers with various shops. This could be through a deal the bank has made with individual retailers, or through a free NUS Extra card. Some accounts even offer a free 16-25 Railcard (which is still valid for over 25s as long as they are in full-time education) which gets you a third off train travel.
Insurance and other services
A student bank account might come with extra services like insurance for laptops and mobile phones. This is very helpful for students moving away from home for the first time, but if you’re staying put and already have insurance these might not be the best deals.
What’s the catch?
Because banks are trying to keep you as a loyal customer with these offers, they usually require you to use your student account with them as your main bank account (for example to receive your student financial support). This means that you may have to switch over from the account you are currently using, although if you decide to stay with your current bank you may be able simply to convert the account you have already.
Which student bank account is the best?
The best account for you depends on your circumstances and priorities, but you can find a useful comparison at MoneySavingExpert.com.
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