Banking and finances

Advice for students on choosing a bank account, opening a bank account and managing student finances.

It is essential to have a bank, building society or post office account to help you manage your finances while you are a student. If you are an eligible UK student you will receive your student finance instalments straight into your bank account.

Top tip: Avoid credit cards when you are studying, your income will be limited making your ability to repay a struggle. If you cannot repay on time then you will incur interest which can build up quickly. You may end up owing significant amounts of money and your credit rating will be affected.

The Money matters guide will help you understand your financial contract with UWE Bristol and our processes.

International students

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 your first few days in the UK.

How to open a bank account

  1. Step 1

    There are a wide range of accounts on offer, with various incentives and overdraft limits. Make sure you choose one without a monthly charge, and don’t be taken in by the freebies if it’s not something that you will actually use. A student bank account overdraft is a great buffer when money is tight, but make sure you pay it back.

    Compare bank accounts for an overview. You can also find out more about student bank accounts on Save the Student.

  2. Step 2

    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:

    1. Complete the online bank request form telling us your UK address details and which bank you wish to open an account with.
    2. 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.

  3. Step 3

    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.

  4. Step 4

    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. Never go over the agreed overdraft limit.

    Read your bank statements. Get them sent to you or check your bank app regularly. 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 licence are coming out of your account.

  5. Step 5

    After graduation change to a graduate account, look for one with a long lasting interest-free overdraft. Check out the best offers on Graduate Accounts.