Not sure what to look for in a student bank account? Here are all the details you need to help you decide which one’s best for you.

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The Best:

HSBC Student Bank Account

0% Overdraft: Year 1 - £1,000. Year 2 – up to £2,000, Year 3 – up to £3,000

Interest: None

Overdraft fees/ interest: N/A

Incentive: £80 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card and 12 months of Amazon Prime Student (and other discounts)

Verdict: A good amount of staggered overdraft available that increases every year with no fees (even if you never use your overdraft it’s a useful safety net). It also has the best value for money incentive on this list by far – especially with the gift card that will hopefully buy more than one textbook if you’re lucky. The only thing this account lacks is the added interest. Overall this is account ticks all the important boxes!

Santander 123 Student Current Account

0% Overdraft: Years 1-3 - £1,500, Year 4 - £1,800, Year 5 - £2,000

Interest: 1% on balances above £100, 2% on balances above £200, 3% on balances from £300-£2,000

Overdraft fees/ Interest: N/A

Incentive: Free 16-25 Railcard (1/3 off rail travel for four years)

Verdict: The overdraft limit is decent but doesn’t change unless your course lasts longer than 3 years but at least there are no overdraft fees. The little bit of interest is a little bonus but the real winner is the free railcard. If you plan on visiting home or traveling to visit uni friends during the holidays then a railcard for discounted train tickets is extremely helpful. I’d recommend buying one anyway even if you don’t go for this account! Overall the overdraft is pretty average but better than some but the incentive is very good.

Nationwide FlexStudent Account

0% Overdraft: Year 1 - £1,000, Year 2 - £2,000, Year 3 - £3,000

Interest: 1% Balances up to £1,000

Overdraft fees/ Interest: N/A

Incentive: Cashback with Simply Rewards

Verdict: The amount of overdraft available is good and increases over time without any fees. Plus you earn a little bit of interest for your money. However, the incentive isn’t all that exciting or incredibly useful. But if you’re looking for an account with interest and a good overdraft then this is the account for you.

NatWest Student Current Account

0% Overdraft: First Term - £500, Up to £2,000 after first term

Interest: None

Overdraft fees/ Interest: N/A

Incentive: Free National Express Coach Card (1/3 of coach travel for four years)

Verdict: Don’t let the small starting overdraft scare you away from this bank account as after first term you can request an overdraft up to £2k! While other bank accounts start off with a higher limit, such as Santander at £1,500, the limit takes years to increase. This account is particularly helpful if you’re not sure about having a large overdraft but still have the option to increase the limit if you change your mind. The incentive for NatWest is also good as coaches are one of the cheapest transport methods s it is, so getting an extra 1/3 off prices is the icing on the cake.

Royal Bank of Scotland Student Current Account

0% Overdraft: First Term - £500, up to £2,000 after first term

Interest: None

Overdraft fees/ Interest: N/A

Incentive: Free National Express Coach Card (1/3 of coach travel for four years)

Verdict: This bank account has the exactly the same benefits as the NatWest Student Current Account, but just a Scottish version. This may be a good contender if you’re going to university in Scotland!

The Worst:

Halifax Student Current Account

0% Overdraft: Up to £1,500

Interest: 0.1%

Overdraft fees/ Interest: 7.2% on overdrafts over £3,000

Incentive: Cashback Extras

Verdict: Although £1,500 is a still a decent sum of money it doesn’t compare to the likes of other accounts on this list that reach up to a £3,000 overdraft limit by third year with no fees. While the overdraft fee shouldn’t really apply with the student overdraft available the benefits of this account aren’t very strong. This account does have an interest rate but it’s so small it hardly counts as a benefit. Plus, the incentive isn’t that good in comparison to free railcards and free amazon prime.

TSB Student Account

0% Overdraft: Up to £1,500

Interest: 5% on balances up to £500

Overdraft fees/ Interest: 8.21%, £6 monthly usage fee on overdrafts from £1,500-£1,600

Incentive: £10 overdraft buffer

Verdict: The overdraft is the same as the Halifax account, so it’s not the best out there. 5% interest is a good benefit but it’s only up to £500. The thing to watch out for on this account is there’s a usage fee for the overdraft after a certain amount and you have to pay interest. Overall, the only really good thing about the TSB account is the interest.

Barclays Student Additions

0% Overdraft: Year 1 - £1,000, Year 2- £2,000, Year 3 - £3,000

Interest: None

Overdraft fees/ Interest: N/A

Incentive: Cashback Scheme, Barclays Blue Rewards

Verdict: Barclays offer a very good overdraft, the same as HSBC and Nationwide. While the key factor you should look at in a student bank account is the overdraft, Barclays doesn’t have many other worthwhile perks. Although the incentive offers a cashback scheme with discounts it doesn’t compare to other accounts with better incentives with the same overdraft.

Lloyds Bank Student Account

0% Overdraft: Year 1 – up to £1,500 (tiered), Years 2 - 3 – up to £1,500, Year 4+ - up to £2,000

Interest: None

Overdraft fees/ Interest: 8.21%, plus £6 monthly usage fee

Incentive: ‘Everyday Offers’ Cashback Scheme

Verdict: As the overdraft is tiered you probably won’t get up to £1,500 in first year unless you remember to request more. Similar to other accounts on this list the overdraft limit is still good but there are other accounts that are better. Plus with a usage fee for the overdraft you probably won’t want to risk dipping into it anyway. The cashback offer incentive also doesn’t compare to free rail and coach cards or Amazon gift cards.

Bank of Scotland Student Account

0% Overdraft: Year 1 - £500-£1,000, Years 2 - 3 – up to £1,500, Year 4+ - up to £2,000

Interest: None

Overdraft fees/ Interest: 8.21%, plus £6 monthly usage fee

Incentive: ‘Everyday Offers’ Cashback Scheme

Verdict: This account is exactly the same as the Lloyds Bank Account, but just a Scottish version.

Overall, the key thing to look at to help you reach your decision is the student overdraft. Whether you intend to use it or not, university costs a lot more than you think and sometimes your maintenance loan isn’t enough to cut it. So, having an overdraft is a handy safety net (as long as you don’t pay a fee for it) to ensure that you always have enough money for food and rent (and the sesh).

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