Student Special – Student bank accounts
Does the first week of September ring back to school bells for you as much as it does for us? After years of visiting Woolworths with mum for a new set of secondary school Crayola swag, suddenly your future education and life choices are all on you. Don’t freak out – we’re here to help! All week our Student Special series will be here to assist you to university, your first job, or on your first steps to working life.
Finances are never a thing I’ve enjoyed looking at. I can barely add up, let alone calculate 18.9% APR of 1/4 of my overdraft that is interest free with an outstanding payment that totals 50% of my overall limit blablablablablabla. That’s how I feel about the whole scenario now, let alone as a non-cash-savvy student.
Allow me to give you a few pointers in a bid to help you weave you way through a sea of student bank account offers. It won’t be pretty, but it’s damn well necessary, I’m afraid.
Consider your overdrafts, both throughout and after uni
Any financial advice website will tell you to go for the account with the biggest interest free overdraft. They aren’t wrong, but do be aware of these key points to be sure you don’t graduate and find yourself up a certain creek without any rowing apparatus:
- Absolutely go for the biggest interest free overdraft – it may be your saviour if you get yourself into any trouble. But what I’d advise is not letting the bank give you the whole allowance at once. For example: If your interest free overdraft limit is £1000, ask the bank to only allow you £250 of that limit on your overdraft to encourage you not to spend loads of money that isn’t yours. I did not do this. Now it is two years since I graduated and I’m still not in credit when payday rolls around. That’s ball ache enough, but then…
- Look up what happens once you graduate uni and are not longer eligible. I was quite lucky with Natwest, but I never even thought once about my finances in the period after uni. Natwest allowed me to keep a maximum interest free overdraft of £1250 for a year after I graduated. This was lovely. It was then cut down to £1000. This was manageable. Last month though, the interest free element was cut down to £500, and it’s not fun. I get charged 18.9% of however much I go over this by now, and I’m less than thrilled. But that’s what happens when you graduate into a tricky economy where finding employment is hard. So don’t forget to consider your money for the future.
What else can you get out of them?
When I signed up for my student bank account, the thing that swung it was the free shit. Obviously.
My Natwest account offered me a free student railcard for 5 years (this is only available to current customers) which meant 5 years with a third off of train tickets wherever I went. Few Londoners know that you can also register this to your oyster card for a mega discount too! Natwest also offered me a webcam. I was less enthused about this, but it was a nice gesture.
Of course freebies shouldn’t be the thing that make the decision for you, but it’s always good to check out what else your bank are willing to offer. Bonuses like this include travel packages, discount cards and insurance deals.
Don’t get ignorant
I can’t stress enough to treat your student finances like a boyfriend you can’t trust as far as you can throw him. So when picking your ideal student account, try your best to pick one that will let you stalk its every action. This means:
- Internet banking – a godsend for sorting out rent and bills
- Mobile banking – clearly guard the security of your phone with your life, but when you disappear on a lager bender for several days and forget to pay shizz back home, you’ll be really pleased that there’s an app for that
- Text alert – my phone was, and still is, set up to text me with my balance every Monday. It means I have no excuse to ignore my balance, and can plan how much I have to spend over the week ahead.
Save The Student are really great at advising with this topic. Check out their round up of the UK banks, and definitely don’t miss their super helpful student bank account comparison table. Honestly, it feels like mega hassle now, but you’ll thank us when your mates are living on a bean and half a cider at the end of term.