1. Beware of the student bank account “freebies”
There's plenty on offer this year but don't be seduced by freebies! Offers including free products, insurance, cashback rewards and other “exclusive” deals may sound tempting but you need to be careful. Other things are more important, such as a large interest-free overdraft for 3 years over a free £20 Amazon gift voucher. Don't be enticed by freebies without thinking about what's important first.
2. Choose the right student overdraft for you
Student bank accounts are unique in that they offer an interest-free overdraft. Some say take advantage of this and get the biggest overdraft possible - why not? - but on the other hand, you want to avoid racking up as much debt as possible. The average student leaves uni with around £50,000 worth of debt, so be careful when choosing an overdraft. The more you allow yourself, the more you’ll likely spend.
That being said, at 0% interest, it is important to take advantage of a student bank account overdraft. You may as well!
If you want to be really savvy, take out a large overdraft and transfer some of this loaned money into your savings. Savings account actually ADD money into your account and although it’s not much, it’s something!
4. Open up a savings account alongside your student bank account
By doing this, you will be able to transfer your money into the savings account once you receive it. From this point, transfer the money you have budgeted for each week into your current account at the beginning of each week via the bank’s mobile banking app (it's super easy). This means that when you’re out buying drinks at Freshers, you can't get carried away and blow all your money (it’s been done before and trust me, it ain’t pretty).
3. DO NOT go beyond your overdraft limit. You will incur hefty bank charges.
If you're struggling, at least talk to the bank. Try to agree on an extension but remember, you are likely to be charged interest possibly up to a huge 24% EAR. It's always far better to plan and budget to avoid this.
4. Figure out your budget.
For students, this can be complicated and you may receive money from a variety of different channels. For a typical student, income will mean:
Student loan + grants + employment earnings + money from family = income
If you are paying for you accommodation from your own account, take this out of your overall calculation for income before working out your spending budget (food, travel, going out). Once you have done this, you can divide by the number of weeks in your academic year to figure out your weekly budget. You can find the number of weeks in your academic year by looking on your university website.
5. Open a STUDENT BANK ACCOUNT to get the best out of banking and DON'T pick based on the closest branch or ATM
Just because there's a particular bank on campus or a conveniently-located cash machine nearby, it DOESN'T mean you should choose an account with it. Here is a breakdown of the different student bank account deals.
|Bank Account||0% Overdraft||Incentive||In-credit interest||Review|
|Santander 123 Account||Up to £2,000||4yr 16-25 railcard||1% £100+ 2% £200+ 3% up to 2k||Save The Student’s 2017 Student Satisfaction Winner! Read more here|
|Nationwide FlexStudent||Up to £3,000||None (but this overdraft is ‘guaranteed’)||1% up to £1k||Read more here|
|Halifax Student Current Account||Up to £1,500||None||0.10%||Read more here|
|HSBC Student Bank Account||Up to £3,000||£60 Amazon gift card +1yr Student Prime||None||Read more here|
|RBS Student Account||Up to £2,000||4yr National Express coachcard||None||Read more here|
|NatWest Student Account||Up to £2,000||4yr National Express coachcard||None||Read more here|
|Barclays Student Additions||Up to £3,000||None||None||Read more here|
|Lloyds Student Account||Up to £1,500||NUS Extra card||None||Read more here|
|TSB Student Account||Up to £1,500||None||5% up to £500||Read more here|
|Co-operative Student Account||Up to £2,000||None||None||Read more here|
It’s important to remember that overdraft amounts are ‘up to’, therefore the figure you see is not guaranteed. The advertised student 0% interest overdraft is often the maximum they offer). For many banks, this amount is only available in your final year at university and only to students with a decent credit rating. While one bank account advertises a larger ‘up to’ overdraft, it may be less likely that you will see that money than with a bank that advertises a lower overdraft. For example, it is probably more likely you will receive £1,500 out of Santander than HSBC (who advertise £3,000) over the average of your degree. See the ‘Read more here’ links for a consideration of the likelihood of receiving the full overdraft for each bank account.
An in-credit interest is a rare treat. With Santander you can receive as much as a 3% return on money (credit) sitting in your bank (like a savings account). With Santander you get 1% on £100, 2% on £200 and 3% up to £2,000, with Nationwide you get 1% up to £1k, with Halifax you get 0.10% and with TSB you get 5% up to £500. Different rates will be more or less beneficial to you depending on your financial capabilities. For example, if you are unlikely to have more than £500 sitting in your account for the majority of the student year, then an account with TSB which offers you 5% in-credit interest would be a good choice. However, if you are likely to have over £500 anywhere up to £2,000, then 3% in-credit interest with Santander would be a better choice.
6. Be aware of StepChange
StepChange is the UK's most comprehensive debt advice service, so if you really screw up your finances despite this guide, then you know where to turn. They're a government-funded charity that provide free debt advice and help you find solutions.
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