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  • Writer's pictureMarwan Ahmed

Hack #5: Setting up an international student bank account

I remember when I first moved to Leeds, and I chose to open an account at a certain bank just because it was across the road and had free international transfer fees. However, nowadays there are a lot more choices so the power is in your hand. This guide will help you decide which bank is the most suitable for you as a student.

Why open a British bank account?

I know it seems like another life admin task to do, and you just want to start enjoying this new experience and explore Leeds. But it’s worth investing the time as it could save you a decent amount of time and money. Opening a British bank account has its benefits such as :

  • You can receive your sponsorship funding every month

  • You can withdraw money 24/7 from any ATM in the UK

  • You can register for telephone and internet banking

  • You won't be charged currency conversion fees

  • You can use bank statements as proof of address and for visa applications. Especially if you want to be exploring not only Leeds but Europe too!

  • You can set up recurring payments for your mobile contract, gym membership and monthly rent. These won't be possible without a UK bank account unless you are ready to pay the whole contract upfront!

Things to consider

1. Does your current home bank operate in the UK?

Many banks have international branches and if your home bank has one in the UK. This can make the process a lot simpler, quicker and cheaper to set up. For example, for Middle Eastern students, Nomo bank is quick to setup and allows you to transfer money instantly from their home account to the UK account.

2. How much are international transfer fees?

This is important especially if you’re planning on sending or receiving money from home. You don’t want to get charged a lot of fees such as transfer fees, currency conversion fees and others. This can add up and you end up getting surprised when you receive your money!

3. Where is the nearest bank branch located?

It is definitely worth picking a bank close to your house or university especially if you want to pop by between your classes or on your way home. Remember for cash withdrawals you can do that 24/7 at any ATM free of charge (doesn't need to be your bank).

What do you need to open an international student bank account?

Different banks have different requirements but in general to open an international student bank account you will need the following:

  1. A valid passport

  2. A valid visa/BRP

  3. A “bank Letter” from your university confirming your course and duration of study

  4. A proof of address usually it will be your tenancy agreement

Comparing the top UK accounts for international students


Account name

Sending fees

Receiving fees


HSBC International Student Bank Account

Free to send money abroad to HSBC accounts and £5 to transfer money abroad to non-HSBC accounts

£5 to receive money in all currencies

Theft protection and finance guides, discounts at a range of stores online including ASOS

Barclays Student Additions

Free to send money abroad in all currencies

free to receive money in all currencies under £100 from abroad and £6 for any amount over £100

12 month free subscription to Perlego (online learning library)

Lloyds Classic Account

£9.50 to transfer money abroad (free for Euros)

£2 to receive under £100 from abroad, £7 for any amount over £100

cashback on certain purchases if signed up to the Everyday Offers system

Natwest Select Account

Free to send money abroad in all currencies

Free to receive money in Euros, £1 to receive under £100 and £7 for amounts £100 or greater

Overdraft is available for international students but it is not interest-free

Santander Everyday Current Account

£25 to transfer money abroad (free if in Euros)

free to receive money

Cashback of up to 15 per cent at major retailers

The above list of banks usually take couple of days to few weeks for your account to be setup. However, I always suggest setting up an account with a physical bank as you got a branch to visit if needed and international transfers are easier and cheaper.

Also, I recommend setting up another account with any of the famous digital banks such as Revolut, Monzo or Starling. Your new account will be setup in few hours if not instantly and they require less documents. Also, when you travel abroad they don’t charge you currency conversion fees on purchases and their exchange rates are the best!

Finally, if you would like Marweezy to help you with setting up your bank account, please contact us via our contact form or simply call us at +447557366604.


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