The Best UK Bank Accounts For International Students In 2020

July 2020 by


Starting university as an international student can often be quite complicated. There’s a lot of things to consider when moving to the UK for university but one of the most important aspects as an international student is choosing which bank account is the best for you to set up. If this is something you’re thinking about, then why not have a look into your options in advance? Hopefully, this guide will help you figure out your options.

It’s important to think about opening up a UK bank account asap. If you don’t, you could run into all types of issues, such as:

  • Conversion fees – meaning you have to pay extra money every time you use your home countries bank card.
  • Appealing to employers and UK accommodations – many prefer for you to have a UK bank account, which is definitely something to think about, especially if you’re planning to work over here whilst studying!
  • Limiting banking problems – Being able to sort banking issues locally is convenient and may be a good factor to think about. We all like a bit of convenience!

If you do decide a UK bank account is for you then there are a few things to check over. For example:

  • Your bank account might already operate in the UK and if it does, you don’t need a new one!
  • Many students also like the option of having an overdraft while at university. They definitely aren’t for everyone but it can be useful to have a safety net! If this is on your checklist it will narrow down which account you’d want to go for.
  • Always check the cost of sending money back and forth between your home country! You don’t want any pesky surprise costs popping up.

So, if you’ve decided to open an account then the next question is, what do you need? We’ve listed the key documents below:

  • Your student ID/ Acceptance letter
  • Your passport
  • Your proof of address
  • Your previous bank statements at home (from the past 3 months)
  • Your visa

In most cases, you can also set up your account whilst still being in your home country. Depending on the account you’re considering, take a look and if it allows you to do it now then get the process started! The sooner the better.

So the big decision, what account do you choose?

There a range of accounts available with some of the biggest UK banks. We’ve created a list with some easy pros and cons for you to consider:

Barclays Student Additions Account (International)


  • Sending and receiving money from abroad is free at Barclays if you’re in Europe and sending/receiving less than £100.
  • There’s a small criteria, you only have to be over 18 and studying a two-year undergraduate or one-year postgraduate course!


  • If you’re sending/receiving money outside of Europe or it’s over the £100 limit, there’s a charge per transaction of £6. To be fair, this is still pretty low!
  • You have to make this your main account, so remember to put your main source of income here!

If this account interests you, you can find out more by following this link:

Natwest International Student Account


  • This account allows you to send money internationally completely free.
  • You get a choice of 1 out of 3 offers. These are either, a year of Amazon Prime student membership, a 4 year national express card for 1/3 off all coach travel or a 4 year free tastecard which gets you 50% off food in restaurants around the UK. All of these are incredible offers to get you through your university years!
  • You only have to be 17+ and have lived in the UK for less than 3 years. Perfect for international students!


  • To receive money internationally, there’s a fee of £1 for under £100 and £7 for over.
  • There is a £10 monthly fee to create the account.
  • It can only be created online, so maybe not the best option if you want to speak to someone in person!
  • There is no option of an overdraft, so make sure to manage your money carefully!

If you want to learn more about the account, you can do so by following this link:

Santander Basic Current Account


  • Easy criteria – you only have to be over 16 years old and currently live in the UK (you’ll have to apply for this one once you’ve arrived here!). This would be a good option to look into if you’re on a study abroad option for a year, as there is no time limit on your length of stay!
  • Sending and receiving money from abroad in Euros is free.


  • It is only open to UK and European residents.
  • Sending and receiving any other type of currency incurs a £25 fee.

To see what else this account includes, check it out here:

TSB Cash Account


  • Includes a feature to help you save money! It rounds up purchases to the nearest pound and puts the rest into savings. If you’re interested in saving money this could really help you out!
  • There is a simple application criteria, you just need to be over 18 with no previous UK bank accounts.
  • Sending and receiving money in Euros is free!


  • It’s only open to people who aren’t UK or EU residents.
  • Sending money in other currencies will cost £10 if you’re sending less than £5,000 and £17.50 if you’re sending over that amount.
  • Receiving in other currencies will also cost you a fee. This is £2 to receive under £100 and £7 if you’re receiving over.

There’s even more information about this account here:

Lloyd’s Classic Account


  • This account offers you a free overdraft after the bank has assessed you. If you’re accepted there is only a small daily charge to use it. If you need some extra help with your finances, this will be beneficial!
  • Like many others, its free to send and receive money in Euros.
  • You only have to be over 18, have a UK address and the right to stay in UK for at least one year.


  • Sending money in other currencies will cost you £9.50.
  • Receiving money in other currencies will cost you £2 for under £100 and £7 for over.

If this appeals to you, then learn more about the account here:

Nationwide FlexBasic Current Account


  • The criteria is simple as it states you have to be over 18 to receive the account.
  • Sending and receiving money is free if in Euros.
  • Receiving money in other currencies is also free.


  • No overdraft available with this account.
  • You have to be from the EU or EEA to open this account.
  • Sending in other currencies is £20.

To see more about what the account offers, check it out here:

HSBC Basic Account


  • Not specifically for students.
  • Designed for anyone with an EU address. This means you can even set it up while at home if you’re from Europe.
  • Sending money to other HSBC accounts is actually free.
  • Also free when sending money to non-HSBC accounts in euros.
  • Free to receive in Euros and under £100 in other currencies.
  • Criteria is small. You just have to be over 16, in the EU and have no existing accounts with other UK banks.


  • No overdraft with this one either, so stick within your financial limits!
  • Costs £4 to send money in other currencies to non-HSBC accounts.
  • Receiving money over £100 in other currencies will cost you £8.

For more details, click here:

These are just a few bank accounts offered by some of the biggest banks in the UK. Our list contains the most popular options, so hopefully, one of these bank accounts will suit your needs and help you throughout your degree. Be sure to check them out to find out more and see which one suits you best!



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