Best and worst student bank accounts revealed
Nationwide and Santander provide the best student bank accounts, according to a survey by consumer website Which?.
For the second year running, the two banks have been identified as providing the best bank accounts in the opinion of thousands of undergraduates.
Which? surveyed 1,563 undergraduate university students between March and April this year, and used their feedback to generate a customer score.
Nationwide’s FlexStudent account reigned supreme reaching a customer score of 77%, due to its high rating for customer service and online and mobile banking.
The account also offers the maximum interest-free overdrafts available for student accounts. The amounts for are £1,000 in year one, £2,000 in year two, and £3,000 in year three. These limits are provided as long as students don’t have credit problems and they stick to the account requirements. To qualify for this overdraft, you will need to pay in at least £500 a term from the date the account is opened (this can include your student loan, money from family members or any other income). Nationwide also does not charge unarranged overdraft fees. If a payment pushes the account over the limit, it may not go through until the balance of the account has been increased.
Santander’s 123 Student account came second to Nationwide, with a customer score of 76%. This account includes a free four-year 16-25 Railcard - £90 without this perk. The bank also pays interest on credit balances at 1% AER from £100, 2% from £200 and 3% from £300 to £2,000.
However, this account only earned an average of three out of five stars for other aspects of its service, such as online and mobile banking. Its interest-free overdraft limit is set at £1,500 for years one to three, but this is not guaranteed. Santander will assess your eligibility on an individual basis based on your credit score. Then £500 must be paid into the account per term to increase the overdraft limit from £250 to £1,500. Santander also charges a huge £5 a day (capped at £50 a month) for unarranged overdrafts.
Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Lloyds achieved the lowest customer scores in the Which? survey. NatWest accumulated only two stars for its branch service and achieved only average marks for telephone banking, complaints handling and overall customer service.
Barclays Additions accounts have highly rated online and mobile banking features, however, have a distinct lack of sign-up incentives.
Several student bank accounts come with sign-up incentives. HSBC is offering £100 cash if an account is opened by 31 December 2019, plus a free one-year British Cycling Fan membership (worth £24).
NatWest and RBS accounts gift a four-year National Express Coachcard worth around £40 (three-year Coachcards cost £30 and one-year Coachcards cost £12.50).
Lloyds and Bank of Scotland offer three-year Totum cards (the new name for NUS Extra) if a student account is opened by 31st of October 2019.
Nationwide also pays 1% interest on balances up to £1,000 and TSB pays 5% interest on balances up to £500.