Opening a UK bank account is an important step in getting settled in as a student, but it can often seem like a daunting task. Below, we have compiled some important information and resources to help you get started!
Basics of UK banking
It’s a good idea to open a UK bank account as soon as you can, as using an overseas card in the UK can result in high fees. It will also make it easier for you to pay tuition fees and bills, send money to your friends, and you will need a UK bank account to receive your salary if you’re working while in London.
There are many banks in the UK, and most of them offer largely similar services, so the most important thing is to make sure you choose a reputable one. Some of the biggest banks in England:
All of these banks are good and trustworthy options. Another popular choice are online banks like Monzo, Starling and Revolut. Sometimes it can be quicker to open an account at one of these online banks, but they don’t have any physical branches to visit if you run into problems.
The two main types of accounts you might consider are current accounts and savings accounts. Your current account is where you can receive your salary (or any other payments) and use it for everyday spending, as well as paying for things like bills and rent. Your savings account is the account where you can safely put money you want to save. There are different kinds of savings accounts for different purposes, and your bank can help you choose the best one for your needs. You can easily open a savings account with the same bank as your current account.
Most banks offer current accounts specifically for students, which are called student accounts. The biggest difference is usually that student accounts allow you to have an interest-free overdraft, meaning you have a sort of safety net if you really need it (remember, this money still needs to be paid back to your bank). You do not need to open a student account just because you are a student, you can just have a regular current account too. It’s best to contact the bank and speak to a staff member to discuss what account would be best for you, what accounts you are eligible for, and what documents you need to open a bank account.
Other tips for international students
Moving to a new city from abroad is daunting, and it can be complicated to figure out how to set up your bank account, transfer international currency, and pay your bills. Here are some useful resources for international students to check out:
- If you need to exchange money from your home country into pounds, Wise and Revolut are popular free services to do this. Your home bank may also offer global transfer options too.
- Money Saving Expert has a useful webpage on the in’s and out’s of sending money abroad.
- Some banks will require proof of registration from LSE which can be requested once you’ve completed enrollment in September. You might also need your passport or other ID and a UK address proving you live here.
- Check out this UKCISA webpage on opening a bank account for international students.
The Advice Team is always happy to offer individual advice and answer any questions you may have – see down below for details on how to get in touch.
Blog written by Gerda Kovacs.
Gerda works has an Advice Assistant at the LSESU Advice Service.
The LSESU Advice Team
The LSESU Advice Team is based on the 3rd floor of the Saw Swee Hock Building and we provide free, independent and confidential advice to all LSE students on academic and housing matters. We also administer the Hardship Fund, the Childcare Fund and the Graduation Gown Support Fund (GGSF).
Our service is currently operating using a hybrid working pattern. We are still open and can be accessed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also book a telephone or Zoom appointment with an adviser through Student Hub.