Category: Living

How to Open a Bank Account in the UK

There are a selection of banks to choose from when opening a bank account in UK. Some universities will take freshers to a specified bank, but you may get a better deal if you do a little research and make this decision yourself. Websites such as U-Switch, and Money Saving Expert are great starting points to finding out what is available on the market, allowing you to compare what is on offer from different banks.

uk bank account with UKEC

(Source: Freepik)

Things to consider

  • Location - The bank should be close to where you are living, or your university, so that you can conveniently visit it when needed. Many UK universities have banks on campus, so you may want to choose one of these.
  • Cost - Check if the bank account is free as some bank accounts have monthly fees.
  • Savings - Compare the interest on saving accounts of different banks. A higher interest rate means you’ll get a far better return on your savings.


Most UK banks provide various different bank accounts, including some that are specifically designed for students. Some are free, some are charged, some have cashback bonuses, some could earn credits, some are debit card and some are credit card. We know, it’s hard to make a decision amongst such a number of choices!


We suggest that when you first arrive in the UK, you open these two types of accounts as standard;

  1. A Current Account which allows international money transfers, cash withdrawals, and online spending. This will be the account that you use the most, and will have a debit or credit card attached to it.
  2. A Savings Account through which you can store the majority of your money, and simply transfer the money you need through to the current account. This is a safer way of storing your money. Savings accounts also tend to have higher interest rates that current accounts, so you will get more for your money in the long run.


When you have decided the bank you would like to open your account with, simply make an appointment at the branch closest to you. Remember to ask about the documents you should take along. These are likely to be your passport, a letter or certificate from your university proving that you are studying there, and proof of your address (housing contract or police registration form).


Things to remember

  1. Ask for your international bank account information (IBAN & BIC/SWIFT code) for international money transfers.
  2. Ask the bank staff about what you need to do with your account when you return home after graduation. For example; how do you close the account, and how can you transfer money back to your account in your home country.
  3. Every time you change address in the UK, for instance if you move house at the end of each academic year, you must update your bank. Your debit card attached to your current account will have an expiry date, and when it does expire, your bank will send you a new card to your home address.
  4. If you are going abroad and planning on using your UK bank card, let your bank know before you go. If they are unaware that you are travelling they may think your card has been stolen, and cancel any access to it!


UK banks you may want to consider:





HSBC offers a great comparison service, whereby you can compare different types of UK student accounts on offer.


If you have any further questions or queries on opening a bank account in the UK, contact your UKEC education consultant or speak to the advisors at your university.


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