Most banks accept anyone with a UCAS offer letter. So you should definitely open a student bank account before you go to university! Don’t be lazy (you aren’t a full-time student just yet!) and, to quote Smokey Robinson and the Marvelettes, ‘”You better shop around (Shop, shop around).” Remember, many banks are actively discouraging opening more than one student bank account, so in many cases you can’t open multiple accounts and reap the rewards of having two overdrafts and a bunch of different freebies.
Check out the finer details…
Don’t be sucked in by the offers of freebies. Look at the boring bits first. Which bank gives you the biggest and lengthiest 0% overdraft? Going over your overdraft limit can cost a bomb, so check if they’ll let you extend your overdraft limit if you get into dire financial straits. It’s definitely worth seeing how much interest they charge if you go over and make sure you read all the small print.
Look at the bigger picture…
You might want to look at how good their online services are and whether there is a bank branch near your accommodation. Go on internet forums and see what students are saying about the different banks and the student accounts they offer. If you’re a lazy soul and won’t be changing your bank when you graduate, check to see what graduate accounts they offer or whether you can keep your student account (with its 0% overdraft) for a year after you graduate.
Bring on the freebies…
So now you’ve checked out the overdraft facilities, you’ve got our permission to look at the freebies. If banks are offering similar overdraft facilities, then it’s the freebies that might swing it. Work out which freebies will give you the greatest long term gain or hold the biggest monetary worth.
For instance, if they’re offering £50 in cash, a dodgy mp3 player or a 16-25 Railcard which is valid for five years, think hard about which one would be best for you. We’re not going to tell you which one to choose, but the Railcard option definitely sounds pretty good!
Remember, getting a student bank account isn’t the be all and end all. You don’t have to stay with the bank for the rest of your life. If you see a better deal elsewhere during your second and third year, you can always up make like a tree and leave. Remember though, if you do this, you’ll have to pay off the remainder of your overdraft first.
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