Santander student account: Everything you need to know

7 minute read

If you’re about to start university in the UK - or if you’re already taking an undergraduate course or level 4-7 apprenticeship - you might be eligible for a student account from Santander. The Santander student current account offers some attractive features for students, including discounts on rail fares and an overdraft facility¹. There are, however, some fees you need to know about, especially when it comes to using your account to send and receive international payments, or cover your costs while you travel.

To be eligible for the Santander 1|2|3 Student Current Account, you’ll need to use it as your primary account, and pay into it every academic term¹. However, it’s not necessarily the best account for all your financial transactions. If you travel a lot, or are an international student receiving money from home, you might benefit from getting a specialist product, such as the borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise, to cut the costs on international payments, and spending while overseas. More on that later.

Planning on studying in the UK? If you need to send money to or from your home country, TransferWise could save you money versus your bank

Before you get started, a bit of information about international payments.

Going to university can be expensive. Classes you have to pay for, books you have to buy and, if possible, you want to enjoy student life as well. Maybe you’ve been saving money to go and study abroad, or you have family or friends who are helping you out, either way, sending money abroad can be a costly business.

Banks and money transfer providers often give you a bad exchange rate to make extra profits, and most of them use intermediary banks to send your money across borders. All of this can add up pretty quick. However, there’s an alternative.

TransferWise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. Which means you can save up to 8x by using TransferWise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad. Oh, and TransferWise gives you the most fair exchange rate out there, the mid-market exchange rate.

Check out how to make your first transfer with TransferWise. And give it a try.

Here’s all you need to know about the Santander student account.

How to open a student account with Santander

If you’re a new customer, you’ll be able to open your Santander 1|2|3 Student Current Account online if you wish. This should only take 10 minutes - although you also have the option of visiting a branch if you want some face to face help².

If you already bank with Santander, you must visit a branch to switch your account to a student product². This is because you can’t run a student account alongside another account with Santander, so you’ll need to close your original Santander account before you can get started with your student account.

To open your Santander student account you’ll need to have the following³:

  • An active email address and phone number
  • Your address history for the previous 3 years - you may need a proof of address, depending on the circumstances
  • Proof of your status as a student - this could be a student ID card or a letter from your university confirming you've been accepted, for example
  • Details of your incoming and outgoing payments

What kind of student bank account does Santander offer?

Santander’s account for students is called the 1|2|3 Student Current Account. This account offers some student-friendly perks like a free 4 year railcard, which gives a reduced price for rail fares, and discounts of up to 15% at some partner retailers. Interest is paid on balances of £300-£2,000, and the account is paper free, with online banking facilities¹.

You’ll get a debit card and overdraft facilities, which can increase over time, depending on how you manage your account¹. You’ll be able to send and receive international payments, and use your debit card overseas⁴ - but there are fees for these services you’ll want to know about. More on that in a moment.

When you’re choosing the right student account for you, it pays to shop around a little. A good alternative to look at - especially if you send and receive international payments frequently, or love to travel - is the TransferWise borderless account.

This smart new account lets you hold more than 40 currencies, and get local, virtual account details for the UK, US, euro area, Australia and New Zealand. That means you can receive money via local payment methods in these major world currencies, just like a local. You can also get a linked debit card to make ATM withdrawals and pay for things anywhere you see the MasterCard logo.

One of the key features of the borderless account is that you can hold multiple currencies, and switch between them using the mid-market rate, whenever you need to. This means you’re getting the very best available exchange rate, and you’ll only ever pay a low, transparent fee, which you’ll always see upfront. It’s a great solution if you’re an international student in the UK and receiving money from back home, or a British citizen taking time to study overseas - or even if you just love to make the most of the university holidays to travel. A borderless account can mean you save money on international bank fees - and have more to spend on yourself.

What are the requirements to open a student bank account with Santander?

To open a Santander 1|2|3 Student Current Account you must be aged 18 or over, and a UK resident¹. You’ll need to show that you have already started university, or have received an unconditional or confirmed conditional offer for a place on a recognised course of study. This means you can’t apply until you've received your exam results if your university place was offered on a conditional basis.

To be eligible for this student account you must be starting a university undergraduate course which is at least 2 years long, or a level 4-7 apprenticeship¹.

If you already bank with Santander, you'll need to close or transfer your existing account, so that your student current account is your main bank account. You’ll also have to pay in at least £500 per academic term to retain the benefits the account offers. Once you graduate, Santander will either close your account or transfer you to a 1|2|3 Graduate Account⁴.

Are there any fees to open or maintain the account?

Here are the main fees you need to know about - you can get the full terms and conditions online from Santander, before you open your account⁵.

Service Fee
Open and maintain your account
  • No fee
Sending money in pounds, within the UK
  • Faster payment - no fee
  • CHAPS (same day payment ) - £25
Sending money internationally
  • Sending money in the SEPA area - £15
  • Sending money elsewhere - £25
Receiving money from abroad
  • Receiving a cheque - £10
  • Receiving an electronic payment - no fee
Using your debit card in an ATM overseas
  • 1.5% of value (min. £1.99) if you withdraw in pounds
  • 1.5% of the transaction value (min. £1.99) + 2.75% of the value if you withdraw in a foreign currency
  • Withdrawing from a Santander ATM in Spain is fee free
Using your debit card for purchases overseas
  • £1.25 + 2.75% of the transaction value
  • Arranged overdraft - no fee
  • Unarranged overdraft - £5 a day
  • Allowing a payment despite lack of funds - £5
  • Refusing a payment due to lack of funds - £10

Does Santander allow you to have an overdraft on your student account

As long as you meet the eligibility requirements for the 1|2|3 Student Current Account, you’ll get an arranged overdraft facility. This is fee free for the duration of your student account if you stay within the arranged overdraft limit - but you may find you need to pay fees on this facility after your finish studying, depending on the account type you transfer to. If you exceed your arranged overdraft, you’ll also have to pay fees⁴.

Assuming your account is well managed, and depending on the length of your university course or apprenticeship, your arranged overdraft limit will be as follows⁴:

  • Year 1 - £1,500
  • Year 2 - £1,500
  • Year 3 - £1,500
  • Year 4 - £1,800
  • Year 5 - £2,000

When your period of study ends, your account will either be closed or transferred to a different Santander Account - in either case, you’ll be given notice in advance of the change⁴.

The Santander 1|2|3 Student Current Account has many great features for students, but there are also fees and charges to be aware of. Doing a bit of research, and thinking carefully about the way you’ll use your account is the best way to get the right solution for your needs.

You might choose to get an alternative account to use for sending and receiving international payments, and spending while you travel, for example. Try the TransferWise borderless account, for a flexible way to manage your money across over 40 different currencies, and see if you can save.

Sources used for this article:
*All sources checked on March 7, 2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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