Bank accounts

Most banks offer student bank accounts that come with free perks and useful tools for managing your money.

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UK student accounts

Student bank accounts are much like standard bank accounts, however many offer an interest-free overdraft. If you already have a bank account you might be able to switch to a student account, however it’s still worth shopping around for the best deal for you.

Why have one

Student bank accounts offer some great freebies, however it is best to consider the rates they offer and how that will affect your money.

The main benefit of a student bank account is an interest-free overdraft. Things to look for are the limit, costs for exceeding that limit and how you’ll have to pay off your overdraft after you graduate.

What’s needed to open an account

Each bank will have its own requirements and processes before you’re able to open a student account. We recommend that you have the following ready before you apply:

  • Identification (passport, driving license etc.)
  • Proof of address (Letter from Goldsmiths, utility bill etc.)
  • Proof of study: UCAS confirmation of unconditional offer. If your offer is conditional you’ll have to wait until your results meet the offer, and some banks may need a letter from Goldsmiths

Important things to consider with an overdraft

  • If you stop being a student your bank will withdraw your overdraft or change its terms, meaning you may be charged and will need to pay it back.
  • Is the overdraft interest-free? A interest-free overdraft means you won’t have to pay charges if you are overdrawn, acting as a safety net if you need it.
  • What’s the limit? When looking for a 0% overdraft you should check the limit and how long they offer it for.
  • How long for? It’s important to remember you’ll need to pay your overdraft back, so check how long your overdraft stays interest-free for.
  • Don’t go over the limit! While you’re within the limit of your interest-free overdraft you won’t be charged, but be careful – once the limit is exceeded the charges can be costly.

If you need money advice, the Goldsmiths Student Centre can provide guidance and support so you can better understand your finances.

Local banks to Goldsmiths

As you may need to visit in person, it’s worth considering opening an account with a bank located close to your home or campus. The following are near to Goldsmiths:

  • Santander, on campus in the Richard Hoggart Building
  • Barclays, Deptford High Street (10-minute walk)
  • Other banks in Lewisham and Peckham (15-minute bus ride)

International student accounts

UK bank accounts

A UK bank account is the best way to pay your bills, manage your money and keep it safe. It can also help you avoid exchange rate charges.

When you can get one

Most UK banks require you to be in the country before setting up an account, however there are some that will allow you to apply before you arrive, including NatWest and HSBC (EU applicants only).

Some banks will require that you are formally enrolled as a Goldsmiths student before you can open an account.

Where you can get one

The UK has many banks that offer competitive rates and benefits to international students, however you should make sure you shop around and get the best deal for you.

Here are just some of the UK banks that offer bank accounts for international students:

How you can get one

Each UK bank will have its own identity/credit check system, so please check what is needed from them. Requested documents often include:

  • Statement of student status/proof of enrolment, which can be downloaded from MyGoldsmiths after you have enrolled
  • Visa
  • ID/passport
  • Proof of UK address (the contract for your accommodation or a utility bill with your UK address)

You may have to open your bank account in person, which means making an appointment, going into a branch and filling out paper documentation.

When you arrive in the UK

If you will be opening a bank account after you arrive, you should bring about £500 in UK currency (British Pounds) to use until your account is set up. It might be safer to bring this on a prepaid debit card that lets you convert any funds to British Pounds from your home country. Alternatively, you might be able to access cash from your home country bank account from a cash machine in the UK (please check with your bank before you leave).

Banks close to Goldsmiths

As you may need to visit in person, it is worth considering opening an account with a bank located close to your home or campus. The following are near to Goldsmiths:

  • Santander, on campus in the Richard Hoggart Building
  • Barclays, Deptford High Street (10-minute walk)
  • Other banks in Lewisham and Peckham (15-minute bus ride)

Santander guide for international students

Santander have made this handy video explaining UK banking.