One of the things I got super excited about whilst preparing for university was actually signing up for a student account (it’s not just me is it…? Oh okay. Just me). Banks target students in a massive, massive way because they’re aware that a lot of people stay with the company that they were with as a student. On the plus side, signing up for a student account does involve a lot of perks which is undoubtedly a boon when it comes to financing the years at university. There’s lots of options out there and I was a little overwhelmed when I had to choose which bank to go with. Below are some stuff that I’ve found useful when deciding back then, with a healthy dose of hindsight on top.
Look at the perks
When I was applying for a student account, there are a couple of good incentives that banks offered. Some offered free railcards, free NUS cards, and (the one I went with) free Amazon vouchers. Needless to say, go for the perks that are going to be the most useful to you. I was sure that I wasn’t going to use trains that much during uni, which was why I didn’t go for the railcard even though it was actually the freebie with the biggest monetary value. My Amazon voucher, on the other hand, went straight into a George Foreman grill which turned out to be one of my most prized kitchen tools in first year.
There is no way around it: most students will probably go into overdraft at some point in the three or so years they’re at uni. Even if you’re the champion of budgeting, sometimes huge lump payments (like quarterly rent) come out of your account before your student loan comes in. The great thing is that a lot of student accounts offer 0% overdrafts which basically means that you don’t get charged interest as long as you don’t go over your overdraft limit. Different banks offer different overdraft limits; perhaps only experience and crazy future-telling skills can tell you how much overdraft you’re likely to need. It’s one more thing to bear in mind when choosing an account.
So my bank happens to offer a credit card if I sign up for a student account. Obviously if you’re unlikely to ever use it for fear of getting into a sticky spot, you can always just leave it at your parents’ where it’s safe and far away.
I have used my credit card before in some kind of attempt to get a good credit rating. Basically I used to use it for big, weekly grocery shops and then immediately pay it off in full cause I’m too scared that I’ll forget about it. This year we have two teeny fridges between many of us so weekly shops aren’t really feasible; I’ve basically abandoned my attempt. I don’t know how credit scores work (apart from just please don’t ever pay late) so I have no idea if my efforts actually amounted to anything. I guess I’ll find out when I try to buy a house.
As you can tell, I’m a bit clueless about this bit of student banking. Perhaps it’s something I should look into a bit more when I’m closer to graduating. I just put in a section about it to make people aware that it’s an option.
So I applied for an account in the great big holiday that school leavers get before uni. It took a couple hours in a branch to transfer everything over from my old current account (yes, it’s worth the hassle of collating about seven million documents). For all the arguments I’ve put forward, the way I decided was that basically I fancied the Amazon voucher and I lucked out on the rest. So, however you decide, it’ll probably all be okay.