When people talk about student banking they tend to just focus on one thing: that all-important zero percent interest overdraft. But there’s a whole range of banking options that students can take advantage of and make money from. Here are some of our top tips for clever student banking:
1. Look for the free gifts
Loads of student bank accounts offer free gifts now as an incentive for money-saving students, but make sure that you’re not enticed too easily. If you’re going to choose your bank account based on free gifts, look for the ones you’ll get the most use out of: if you travel a lot, some banks offer free railcards; if you’ve got a lot of gadgets, look for the accounts which offer a discount on insurance. A £20 MP3 player might seem like a good deal at the time, but it’s the gifts which keep giving that’ll save you the most cash.
2. Consider an ISA
ISAs are tax-free savings accounts, where you can save up to £5,640 without paying tax on any interest each financial year. If you’re a really smart student (and not too forgetful) you can make good use of an ISA by depositing your entire student loan in one and living off your interest-free overdraft. You’ll still have to use the loan to pay off the overdraft at the end of university, of course, but you’ll have made a nice little profit in the meantime.
3. Read the small print
Students are often sucked in by the promise of huge overdrafts which last for years after university, but don’t forget to read the small print. Lots of these amazing-sounding overdrafts are only available at the bank’s discretion and you might find that the actual overdraft you get is a lot smaller. Talk to people at the banks to find out what you’re realistically going to get before making that crucial decision.
4. Get a Credit Card… while you can
If you spend your gap year working full time, you should be able to apply for a credit card with proof of a steady income. Although credit cards are abused by some people, they can actually be really useful in bolstering your credit score. You won’t be able to get one as a student, so get in on the action now. Making regular purchases and paying them off quickly might make all the difference in a few years when you come to buy your first house.
5. That all-important Overdraft
Getting a good overdraft can make a huge difference to most students’ lives. For a breakdown of the best student overdrafts for 2012/13 see this page, but keep in mind the rest of our top tips while you’re making that important decision.