When you go off to uni or college, one thing you’ll need to deal with is managing your own finances. For this, you’ll obviously need a bank account. Many people choose a dedicated student account, since these usually offer things that are particularly useful to students, like low-cost overdrafts and help after you graduate.
TSB is one of the biggest banks in Britain, so it’s quite a popular option for people studying in this country. Although its registered office is in Edinburgh, it has over 500 branches throughout England, Scotland and Wales. These offer a full range of services, including an account designed especially for students.
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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.
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Here’s everything you need to know about student accounts with TSB.
You can open a student current account either online on the bank’s website, or by going into a branch. Even if you pick the online route, though, you’ll still need to take some documents into the local branch. In particular, you’ll have to take proof that you’re a student - a letter from your college or university will do, as will a printout of your confirmation letter from UCAS. In both cases, the letter will have to give¹:
- Your name, address and date of birth
- The course name, year of study and graduation year
- If you’re considering buying a property, bring the details
You’ll also have to have proof of address and identity - one different original document for each, and they can’t be copies. Make sure the details you enter match those on the documents exactly. Some examples of documents you can use to confirm your identity if you’re a UK, EU, EEA or Swiss national, are²:
- Full, current passport
- Current Photocard driving licence
- EU/EEA current identity photocard
The bank may carry out a credit check before giving the go-ahead to your new account, and this will definitely happen if you apply for a credit card.
TSB has a single Student Bank Account, which is designed to be suitable for most students. This does mean that it may not be right for people with some needs. It offers a Visa debit card as standard, which is handy both for cash withdrawals and for making payments in shops or online¹.
You may also be able to apply for a Student Credit Card. To get that, you’ll need to be aged 18 or more and be able to show proof of a regular income, as well as having had your TSB student account for three months or longer³.
You’ll be able to make international payments with your account if you want to. You can do this in a branch, over the phone or online. The snag is that you’re unlikely to get a good exchange rate. TSB says they use a “standard exchange rate”⁴, but this comforting phrase conceals the fact that as with most banks, the rate you’re offered will be one that includes what’s effectively an extra fee, rather than the mid-market exchange rate that banks use between themselves.
If you need to make or receive international payments, if you’re an international student for example, It may be worth thinking about an alternative, such as a borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise. You can get a linked debit card to help make things really simple, and you’ll be able to use the account with more than 40 currencies. On top of that, you can keep track with virtual accounts if you’re using euros, pounds sterling, or US, Australian or New Zealand dollars. Which means you can receive these currencies via local payment methods. The great thing is that receiving these is usually free, or at least a lot cheaper than an international payment.
The student account from TSB does pay you interest, but there’s a catch. The 5% Annual Equivalent Rate (AER) looks pretty attractive on paper, but it only applies for balances up to £500. For any funds you have in your account above that amount, you won’t be paid any extra interest at all.
There are a few limits on who’s able to get a TSB Student Bank Account. For a start, there’s a minimum age of 17, which shouldn’t affect most people. You’ll need to have lived in the UK for three years or more, so you can’t apply if you’re an international student. Assuming you’re a UK resident, you’ll also probably need to be on either a full-time course that lasts a minimum of two years. There's one exception: if you’re on a one-year access course as a starting point for a full degree, you’re eligible too⁴.
You can’t continue to use this account to graduate status - but once you’ve finished your course, you can transfer to TSB’s Graduate Bank Account instead. You’ll need to show proof of graduation within the past three years⁶.
TSB doesn’t charge a fee for starting or running your account, and things like online banking come as part of the package. Arranged overdrafts are also free up to £1,510, though this is subject to approval. There are some other fees to be aware of, though. These won’t affect everyone, but if you do need these services they can quickly add up⁷.
|Payments within the UK - in pounds|| |
|Payments within the UK - in foreign currency|| |
|Sending money outside the UK|| |
|Receiving money from outside the UK|| |
|Cash withdrawal and card payment within the UK|| |
|Cash withdrawals outside of the UK in foreign currency|| When TSB does the currency conversion|
|Debit card payment in foreign currency|| When TSB does the currency conversion|
|Arranged overdraft|| Monthly overdraft usage fee|
|Unarranged overdraft|| Monthly overdraft usage fee|
|Refusing a payment because you don’t have enough money in your account|| |
The TSB student account offers an overdraft facility, and there’s no interest to pay if you keep below the limit you’ve agreed with the bank. The arranged overdraft limit can be up to £510 for the first 6 months, than you can apply to increase it up to £1010 in your 7th to 9th month of studying, and from the 10th month you can apply to increase it again up to the maximum of £1,510. You need to apply and the bank has the right to refuse if it doesn’t think you’re suitable for an overdraft, plus they can ask for repayment at any time¹.
The TSB Student Bank Account offers a pretty solid package to help you with managing your finances while you’re in higher education. There aren’t many fees, the interest-free overdraft offer is fairly generous and the bank has plenty of branches around the country. It could be a good fit for many students.
You may find an alternative option is better for you, though. This goes especially if you need to use multiple currencies, since TSB’s exchange rates may not be the best and there are several extra fees to think about. In that case, it could be worth looking at a borderless account from TransferWise. There’s just one clear, low fee to pay and you can pay and receive funds in more than 40 currencies.
Sources used for this article:
*All sources checked on February 3, 2019
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