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How to choose the best student bank account for you

Choosing the right bank account is an important step before heading off to university, says Vicky Shaw

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Young people should be wise with their funds at university

Young people should be wise with their funds at university

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Young people should be wise with their funds at university

Many students starting university life for the first time will also be getting an education in what it's like to manage their finances independently, with all the freedoms and responsibilities that entails.

This can be a big - and often daunting - shift.

A good starting point is finding a decent student bank account, whether it's one with a competitive overdraft facility, or other benefits aimed specifically at students.

Remember, the bank that's closest to your campus may seem convenient, but its student account may not necessarily be the best one for your individual needs - so it's definitely a good idea to do some research and think about what's going to be a good fit for you.

"This may well be a challenging year to start further education, due to the uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the potential financial pitfalls it has instilled," says Rachel Springall, a finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk.

"Students searching for a bank account would be wise to weigh up any perks that may be on offer, with the interest-free overdraft that the account carries.

"During the years of study, a generous interest-free limit would provide students with a financial safety net, and Halifax and Santander offer up to £1,500 from the outset of year one, which is generous. It is worth noting that overdrafts are not guaranteed," Springall adds, "and they will need to be paid back once a consumer ends their studies."

Springall also sounds a note of caution about overdrafts.

"It may be tempting to dip into a generous interest-free overdraft, but students would be wise to consider taking on a part-time job and perhaps thinking of ways to save some cash if they can," she says.

"Using a mobile budgeting app, like Money Dashboard, to keep a close eye on outgoings, and mobile apps like Chip to automatically save spare funds, could educate students who may be living away from home for the first time and want to budget or save.

"Taking out insurance for gadgets is also worth considering, as students may not be able to buy those outright should they break or - worse - are stolen."

She says young people feeling anxious about their finances should discuss their situation with someone they trust, and perhaps contact their bank for support. If you are unsure about the terms and benefits on offer, or which student bank account is right for you, you can always ask to talk it through with an adviser, so you can be sure you are fully informed and can confidently make the best choice for you.

Four quick tips for first-time students

Springall says these four things can help students keep on top of managing their money:

1. Budget analysis tools and planning apps can help you keep on top of your overall finances.

2. Use your overdraft sparingly.

3. Consider where you normally shop and eat when weighing up whether cashback perks and discount cards are worthwhile.

4. Make sure your gadgets are insured, or that you would have enough savings to replace them.

Belfast Telegraph