Choosing a bank

There are a range of banks and accounts available to you. Look carefully into the details and conditions of each to compare what they offer and decide which one best suits your needs.  

It can take several weeks to open a bank account. Be prepared and think about arranging money for when you arrive before you travel to Leeds.

Below you’ll find the answers to some of the questions that you might be having at this stage. Find out more about what documents you need to open a bank account and what steps to follow to obtain them. UKCISA also has some useful information on the different types of accounts available in the UK.

Which bank?

We can't recommend any particular bank accounts to students. Some things to consider when choosing your bank are: 

  • What fees you will be charged for opening an account  

  • What cards you can get (Visa debit, Maestro debit, cash card) 

  • If the bank will stamp printed internet banking statements for use in visa applications 

  • How long it takes to open an account 

Here are some examples of accounts that you may choose to use:   

Bank of China Student Prime Account  

Barclays International Student Additions Account  

HSBC Basic Bank Account  

Lloyds Classic Account 

NatWest International Student Account  

Santander Essentials Current Account (age 18+) 

Santander Current Account (age 16+) 

Applying for a bank account

Many banks are now starting applications for new accounts online and could ask you to book an appointment to visit the branch. Check the website of the bank for information about how to open an account before you visit a branch. 

Many banks require you to be in the UK to complete the process of opening your account. However, some banks could allow you to open an account from your home country. For example:

  • If you live in China, Bank of China can help you to open a UK account before coming to the UK.

  • Customers who have a relationship with HSBC in their home country can use HSBC’s International Banking Centre (IBC) network to open a UK account before they arrive. This is available to customers in 29 countries, and the average time required to process this before you come to the UK is two weeks.

Sharia-compliant banks

It is possible to open bank accounts in the UK which are Sharia-compliant. You can find more information on Sharia-compliant banks under the ‘types of accounts’ section on the UKCISA website.