Best Banks for International Students in the UK
As an international student, one thing you’ll need as soon as you set your feet in the UK is a UK bank account.
Now that you are in the UK, you’ll need to open a new account domiciled here in the UK.
There are so many reasons for that but for one thing, currency conversion across countries is expensive and you’ll also need a UK-domiciled account to pay your UK bills, recurrent subscriptions and just run things here.
There are many banks in the UK, so whichever city in the UK you school or live in, there is a good bank you can open an account with.
As a student, you’ve not got the luxury to expend a lot of money on transfers and all, so you’ll need a student-friendly bank that will help you meet your financial goals.
I have researched some of the best banks for international students in the UK and what makes them your best option based on current students’ experiences.
7 Best Banks for International Students in the UK – 2023
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Natwest bank also ranks as one of the best banks for international students in the UK.
The bank is a major retail and commercial bank in the UK, headquartered in London.
It was founded in 1968 and is a subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which is now part of NatWest Group.
You can use Natwest bank in London. Natwest bank has branches and ATMs located throughout the UK, including in London.
You can also access your Natwest account online or through the bank’s mobile app to manage your finances from anywhere.
Why you should open a student account with RSB
- Up to £2000 interest-free overdraft in your 1st year (£500 in your first term) with an instant online decision.
- Can’t find your bank card? Temporarily freeze it on the app while you look, and if you find it, instantly unfreeze your card.
- Withdraw up to £130 without your card every 24 hours at our ATMs (as long as it’s within your daily withdrawal limit, criteria applies)
- You can switch using the Current Account Switch Service.
- No monthly fee
This is one of the most popular banks in the UK.
Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in London.
It was founded in 1690 and operates in more than 40 countries around the world.
If your home country is one of the countries where Barclays operate and you have an account already, you do not need to open another Barclays account now that you are in the UK.
Why you should open a student account with Barclays as an international student in the UK
- No hidden charges for student banking – you don’t have to pay to open or use your account
- You’ll be able to apply for an interest-free overdraft, subject to application, financial circumstances, borrowing history and lending criteria
- You can have any income or your student loan paid in, then make payments by debit card, contactless, Direct Debit, and standing order
- You can track and manage the money in your student account using the app.
HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in London, UK.
It was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 and has a significant presence in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with over 3,800 offices in 64 countries and territories worldwide.
The bank has offerings for students that make it one of the best banks for international students in the UK.
Why you should open a student account with HSBC as an international student in the UK
- Their account for international students guarantees interest-free limit of up to £1,000 in your first year, which could rise to £3,000 by year
- Pay on the go quickly and securely with Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay
- Get discounts at Costa Coffee, ASOS, Boohoo and more with our home & Away offers programme
- Enjoy access to our full range of savings accounts (including some only available to HSBC current account customers)
Lloyds Bank is a British retail and commercial bank headquartered in London, UK. It was founded in Birmingham in 1765 and has since grown to become one of the largest banks in the UK.
This banks ranks as one of the top banks international students love to open an account with in the UK.
Why you should open a student account with HSBC as an international student
- With their Student Account, you can apply for an interest-free tiered arranged overdraft of up to £1,500 in Years 1 to 3 and up to £2,000 in years 4 to 6
- Stay in credit and you won’t have to pay monthly fees
- Convenient payments with a contactless debit card (if you’re aged 18 or over), Apple Pay and Google Pay
- Get up to 15% cashback with Everyday Offers when using your VISA Debit Card at selected retailers. Merchant offers and cashback amounts vary. T&Cs apply
Best Banks for International Students in the UK
Santander is a Spanish multinational commercial bank and financial services company headquartered in Madrid, Spain.
It was founded in 1857 and has since grown to become one of the largest banks in the world, with operations in Europe, North and South America.
Their basic current account is suitable for students who would love to monitor and pay attention to their finances.
Benefits of opening an account with Santander as a student in the UK
- A free 4-year Santander 16-25 Railcard to save 1/3 on rail travel in Great Britain (trust me, you’ll need this)
- An interest-free arranged overdraft of £1,500 in years 1-3, £1,800 in year 4 and £2,000 if you stay on to year 5
- No fees for using Santander cash machines when you travel
- You can get cashback, vouchers, prize draws and other offers personalised for you with Santander Boosts
- There’s no monthly fee to maintain the account.
TSB Bank is a retail and commercial bank headquartered in London, UK.
It was originally formed in 1810 and has gone through a number of mergers and acquisitions before becoming a standalone bank in 2013.
It’s definitely one of the leading banks in the UK that you can open an account with.
Why you should open a student account with TSB as an international student
- Receive 5% AER /4.89% gross variable interest on balances up to £500, paid by the 10th working day of each month
- Optional interest-free overdraft up to £1,500 to help you budget during your studies
- Your overdraft starts at £500 for the first six months, then you can apply to increase it to £1,000 in months seven to nine, and up to £1,500 from month ten (T&C apply)
- Quick and easy application to take the hassle out of banking
- You can spread the cost of large outgoings, such as new books, and you can apply for a Student Credit Card
- Apple Pay and Google Pay are available with this account
- Manage your current account online with their mobile app and Internet Banking
Al Rayan Bank – Personal Current Account
Al Rayan Bank PLC is a commercial bank in the United Kingdom, established in August 2004 to offer Sharia-compliant financial service products to customers of any faith.
If your faith and beliefs align with that of this bank and you are an international student, you can go for their Personal Current Account for students.
Benefits of Al Rayan Bank Personal Current Account
- Interest-free bank account: receive no interest, pay no interest
- Debit card and chequebook (subject to status)
- Funds deposited will be administered in accordance with Sharia principles
- International payments
- Automatic access to your account via our automated telephone banking service 24/7 or online
Before you make your decision about which bank you would choose to do business in the UK during the course of your study and beyond, also see the answer to some of these frequently asked questions about International student banking in the UK.
Can international students get a student bank account in the UK?
Yes, you can open a bank account in the UK as an international student. To open an account, you will need your photo ID card, such as a passport, a valid visa, a bank statement from your home bank, from the past three months, proof of address in the UK, and student ID.
Which UK bank is best for non-UK residents?
There are a few banks in the UK good for non-UK residents including HSBC, Barclays, and Lloyds Banking Group. These banks offer both free and paid bank accounts and let you manage your account offline (at a branch) and online (website and mobile app).
Do international students need to open a bank account in the UK?
Yes, International students need to open an account as soon as they get to the UK for their studies. Your employer will need to pay into their UK bank account when you start to work and they will need a job to be able to secure an accommodation.
As always, if there is anything I didn’t touch on in this post, feel free to let me know in the comment session.
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