Freshers: Student Banking – Get it Sorted!
The hottest day of the year, which today is very likely to be, is hardly the time to be thinking about burying yourself in comparison sites or trawling through options regarding which student bank accounts on the market are best for you. Ice creams and sun tans are way more exciting than overdrafts and free railcards (unless you’re the Monopoly guy, perhaps). However, getting this part of your university preparation right, and setting the wheels in motion for that now, could have a very beneficial impact on your university experience. How much further can you stretch the £500 more, say, that one bank offers in its interest-free overdraft allowance than another does?
Whilst it’s impossible to actually open a student bank account until you have first got your results and/or finalised your place at university (and received proof of evidence of this), you can certainly do everything else in preparation right now. Look around. Pick up brochures. Do a little research and see what’s on offer. Arrange consultations and get advice. If you’re really clued up, have a look at what changes with these accounts after you graduate. How generous are the interest-free periods on your overdraft after you finish university, for example? When do the nasty charges start appearing, and how bad are they? It could make a real difference if the transition to working life post-uni is rockier than expected, for example.
When results day comes, make sure that student bank accounts are one of the first pre-uni things, if not the first thing, put in motion (after partying away the euphoria or stressing your way through clearing, obviously). Don’t just go with your favourite provider – make sure you have a second favourite choice and/or another bank/building society in mind as well. Speaking from experience, opening student bank accounts can be something of an awkward, time-consuming and frustrating process. For example, as mentioned by moneysavingexpert.com (link here: http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/Student-bank-account), you will be credit-scored when applying for a student bank account; how many eighteen year-olds have one of these?! Lacking one of these could be interpreted as having a “poor” credit score, and therefore could result in your application being rejected for seemingly no obvious reason. It may be worth opening two accounts at the same time with two different banks to insure yourself against hiccups (and hope lightning doesn’t strike twice!).
If you’re lucky enough to not have any dramas with that, then (and I’m looking at you HSBC), you could face other unexpected hold-ups, such as when the bank decides your signature isn’t your signature, but waits two weeks to tell you this by post… anyway, I digress. The period from results day in August to your first student loan payday in September isn’t very long, and although some of the process involves blind faith that your chosen bank won’t screw you around and hold you up, you can certainly help yourself, starting today, by doing what you can to ensure your student bank account is ready to feast on its favourite meal – tax-free, fat-free money from the government – as soon as possible, at the best possible deal for you.