Using your bank account
It is essential to have a bank, building society or post office account to help you manage your finances successfully while you are a student. If you are a UK student, you will receive your student funding directly into your bank account.
Choosing a bank account
Always check a range of banks and building societies to see the type of accounts on offer and find the best deals available. Compare bank accounts for an overview. Do not choose an account that carries a monthly charge.
When choosing an account with an interest-free student overdraft, it is important to find out how the bank expects you to repay the overdraft and the interest rate charged on it once you have completed your studies.
Remember to make sure there is a branch of your bank near your campus or your accommodation. NatWest has a branch on Frenchay Campus.
Several banks offer personal bank accounts that conduct banking according to Shariah law, for example Islamic Bank of Britain’s Current Account and Lloyds TSB’s Islamic Student Account.
Problems with financial history
If you do not have a bank or building society account due to your previous financial history, you may want to consider opening a basic bank account. All major banks have these types of accounts. Even if you have been declared as bankrupt, you should still be able to open one of these accounts.
For further information on basic accounts visit the Money Advice Service.
Many of you will need to open a bank account when you arrive in Bristol. As opening a bank account will take time, please arrange to have sufficient cash/travellers cheques to support yourself for the first few days in the UK.
Requesting the UWE Bristol Bank Letter
Banks will often ask for confirmation of your student status and your UK address. If you know which bank you are going to open an account with, you will need to obtain a UWE Bristol Bank Letter.
This is a two-stage process:
- Complete the online bank request form telling us your UK address details and which bank you wish to open an account with
- Collect the UWE Bristol Bank Letter from an Information Point and take it to the bank as evidence of your attendance (maximum 48 hours later)
You can complete step one before you leave home. Choose your bank, complete step two and save time when you get here.
Opening your account
Once you have your UWE Bristol Bank Letter, take it to your chosen bank. Ask the bank to explain what services are available and how they work, as they may differ from those offered by banks in your home country. Please also make sure your bank sends you paper bank statements, as these will be important should you need to renew your visa. For further information, see UKCISA’s advice on opening an account.
If you experience problems opening a bank account or are unhappy with the service you receive from a bank, you can contact the bank itself and explain that you want to make a complaint. You can also seek advice from a UWE Bristol Money Adviser.
Managing your bank account
Student bank accounts are usually free to use but not to misuse. If you exceed your authorised overdraft limit you may incur bank charges which may ultimately affect your credit rating.
Read your bank statements. Get them sent to you or check your account online at least once a month. This is a simple way to keep track of your expenditure and to check for any errors or fraud. It is a good way of making sure that the important payments for rent, fees and TV license are coming out of your account.
Student bank accounts usually offer an interest-free overdraft facility, which you can use as a buffer if your budget is a bit tight. Try not to rely on the overdraft as a main source of income because it is a short-term measure which you will have to repay after you finish your course. Check what charges apply if you go over the agreed limit – rates do vary.