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Why get a bank account?

  • You may need to have a bank account to receive your scholarship, bursary or loan
  • If you want a mobile phone contract, the phone company will usually ask for your UK bank details
  • Carrying around a lot of cash is risky. Your money is safe in the bank for when you need it
  • Your bank at home can transfer money to your UK bank easily
  • If you need to extend your visa during your studies, the Home Office will want to see your bank statements to check you have enough money

Choosing an account

Here are some questions to ask when choosing a bank or account.

  • Does it have a monthly fee? For some accounts you have to pay a monthly fee, but in return they may offer lower interest rates on overdrafts and loans. But do you need these?
  • How much money does the bank ask you for to open the account? Is there a minimum deposit?
  • Will the bank give you a debit or credit card? Some accounts just provide a 'Solo' card, which you can't use everywhere
  • Can you get online banking?
  • Can you withdraw cash for free from cash machines?
  • Has the bank got branches in your home country?
  • Is there a branch on campus or near your university or college?
  • If you have an account with a bank at home, it may be a good idea to keep this open with some money in, so if you need to access money quickly, you can
  • If you want an account based on Sharia principles, check on the bank websites or in the branch to see if they offer these services. There are also banks which specialise in this.

What do you need to open an account?

You'll need to show your bank certain documents to open the account. This will vary between banks, so ask what they'll want to see before you go.

They will probably ask for:

  • A letter from your university or college to prove you are studying there
  • Your passport
  • Proof of address (this could be a utilities bill - gas, electricity, water etc. - check to see what they will accept)


  • Always inform your UK bank in writing if you change your address
  • You may like to pay certain bills (like a mobile phone contract) by Direct Debit. This means that the money is taken out of your account automatically. You will be informed when and how much money in advance. Direct Debit saves you going to the bank or posting a cheque each time a payment is due