Student Bank Accounts
Having started my university course earlier this month at the prestigious Westminster University (he says with a hint of sarcasm) I cannot believe I managed to get everything done in time. All that paper work made my head spin but on the up side it forced me to look into things I have never needed to look into before. One of those things was my Student Bank Account. If you managed to secure a student loan from the government, you cannot be without a bank account as that is where your loan will be kept safe and secure... until happy hour at the local union bar that is. Since you have to have a bank account for university, why not make it the best account for you, after all, who can be bothered to change it once you have gone through all that effort to set one up.
One of the benefits of student bank accounts is the perks. Perks can be anything from free cinema tickets to a new ipod, but whatever it is, you have to learn to look past the perks. There are four major student bank accounts on the market today and the reason I wanted to write this article was to pass on all my research to save my fellow students time and effort when it comes to choosing their student bank accounts. The four accounts we will be looking at today come from Barclays Bank, Halifax, Lloyds TSB and Natwest.
Barclays Student bank accounts were awarded the best student account provider by Moneyfacts earlier this year so let's see what gave them the edge over their competition. The main feature I required from my bank account was a decent overdraft limit without charging me the world for it. With Barclays Bank you can apply for an overdraft up to £2,000 interest free with the scope to go up to £3,000 if you really need it. As most students effectively live off their overdraft with their student loans already spent on clothes and drink, a hefty interest free overdraft is very welcome indeed, although a pain to pay back. If you need the extra grand, they will charge you @ 8.9% APR so try your best to stick with the interest free sum of £2k when you can. Other features of the award winning Barclays Bank account are Free Money Text Alerts, one of those swanky contactless debit cards you see on the TV, Telephone and online banking, and a copy of Kaspersky virus checker. Little perks include things like money off Phone4U mobile contract and discounts for certain insurances.
What ever happened to Howard anyway? Halifax's student current account does not have many bells and whistles attached but what it does offer is perfect for the modern day student. The maximum overdraft limit from Halifax goes up to £3k but this entire amount is interest free for the total length of your course plus a year after you graduate to help you pay it back before the interest kicks in and steals your first pay cheque. Other little perks from Halifax are commission free currency exchange (as if I could afford to go away as student), 25% discount on AA breakdown cover (as if I can afford a car) and a discount on their card care protection insurance (which should be free in my mind). You can access your account via online and telephone banking so nothing really out of the ordinary here as that is the minimum you would expect form a bank account these days. Overall, great overdraft limit, crappy perks.
Ah, the bank with the black horse, surely you can offer me something decent. The much needed overdraft limit only goes up to £2k and that is only if you are studying for longer than 4 years. The standard interest free overdraft is only £500 but you can put in an application to increase this to £1,000 after 6 months and £1,500 after the first year. Honestly who can be bothered to keep filling out applications to increase your overdraft limit while everyone else has them as standard! You better have some perks Mr Lloyds or I'm stopping your review here. Luckily for Lloyds you get a NUS Extra card which saves you money across 80 great brands including Amazon, Play.com, Odeon as well as fast food places such as Pizza Hut and McDonalds which could amount to a lot of money after 3 years studying. Lloyds also give you a three year YHA membership which is basically a passport to over 4,000 hostels dotted around the world which I personally think is a great idea. Lastly Lloyds will also approve a credit card for you to use, but before you use it, remember that the APR is 19.9% which certainly isn't cheap.
Last but not least, we have the student bank account from Natwest. In terms of overdraft limit, Natwest works a lot like Lloyds TSB whereby your limit increases year on year. The interest free limit goes up to £2,000 if you study for five years but the standard limit is just £1,000. Within your second year you can increase the limit to £1,500 and in your third year £1,750 which is not a whole lot more. It is worth noting that without a deposit of £750 every 6 months and at least 3 card transactions per month, you will have to pay interest on your overdraft. In terms of extras there really isn't anything to write home about aside from Natwest branches physically inside 55 of the UK's largest universities.
The most important feature when it came to me choosing a student bank account was the overdraft limit. The Barclays Bank Student account in my opinion is a worthy winner of the MoneyFact best student award as not only does it provide the best overdraft service, it also offers a few useful extras that every student would want to get their hands on. In the end their was only one student account for me and I am now a happy customer of Barclays Bank.