Which? reveals the best student bank accounts

A Which? survey has ranked Santander and Nationwide as providing the best student bank accounts, as half a million students prepare to start university for the first time.

Which? University’s annual university student survey saw over 3,000 university students who were studying at the time questioned on their experience with student bank accounts. The accounts were then ranked by the customer score, which is made up of satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.

The consumer champion can name Santander (75% customer score) and Nationwide (72%) as providing the best student accounts. As a result, along with also scoring above average ratings in Which?’s own product analysis, both are now Which? Recommended Providers.

The students were also asked to rate the banks that provide their student accounts on a number of categories on a scale from very poor to excellent. Santander scored five for its sign-up incentives and four on customer service. Meanwhile, Nationwide placed highest on customer service with five stars and also achieved five stars for its service in branch.

At the other end of the table, TSB (55%) and Royal Bank of Scotland (54%) were ranked lowest on customer score. Both banks received a two star customer service rating.

Overall, none of the providers fared especially well on complaints handling, with Santander, Nationwide, Natwest and Bank of Scotland getting three stars, and the remaining banks scoring two.

Which? is encouraging students to plan their financial support ahead of the start of term as its survey also revealed a third of students (31%) didn’t have a student bank account at all. Just under a half (46%) had asked their parents or family for extra money. Meanwhile, a fifth (20%) of students told Which? they relied on their overdraft to manage their living costs. Finally one in 10 (10%) students used their credit cards to manage living costs at university.

All the providers offer perks with student accounts in a bid to attract new customers, ranging from cashback schemes to vouchers. Santander’s account comes with a four-year 16-25 Railcard and 1% interest from £100, going up to 3% from £300 to £2,000. Meanwhile, the second highest rated sign-up incentive, on four stars, was HSBC, which includes an £80 Amazon voucher and one-year Amazon Prime Student subscription.

Harry Rose, Which? Money Editor, said:

“Choosing the right bank account is an important step towards having sound financial footing during your time at university and beyond. However, it was concerning to see that a fifth of students relied on their overdraft to manage their living costs, while just under a half said that they’d asked their parents or family for extra money.

“With the help of students, we’ve identified two good accounts that are a steady starting point for those heading to university.”

Notes to editors

YouthSight on behalf of Which? surveyed 5,000 undergraduate students at UK universities between 22nd March and 6th April 2018 to determine the stats on how many students had bank accounts, used their overdraft and credit cards.  The Customer score is made up of two questions, satisfaction with the brand and the likelihood to recommend. 3,379 out of 5,000 students in the survey told us about their student banks accounts


Which? University’s Student budget calculator provides a monthly breakdown of how much students roughly need to live on throughout university: https://university.which.co.uk/student-budget-calculator

Which?’s guide to student bank accounts and the full results can be found here: https://www.which.co.uk/money/banking/student-and-graduate-bank-accounts/student-bank-accounts-ablvm7t6pdjr

Which? Customer Score: Our ratings for customer satisfaction and likelihood to recommend are based on feedback from students who were studying at the time. We surveyed 3,379 university students about their student bank accounts between March and April 2018. The score is made up of their satisfaction with the brand, and how likely they are to recommend that brand to a friend. Which? Recommended Providers must have an above-average product score once the ratings for each account are calculated. The product score is generated through analysis by Which? that looks into a number of features on each account.

The full surveycustomer scores are as follows: Santander (75%), Nationwide Building Society (72%), HSBC (63%), Natwest (62%), Lloyds Bank (62%), Halifax (59%), Barclays (58%), Bank of Scotland (57%), TSB (55%), Royal Bank of Scotland (54%)


Sample size in brackets: Barclays (359), Bank of Scotland (44), Halifax (92), HSBC (579), Lloyds (239), Nationwide (250), NatWest (258), Royal Bank of Scotland (79), Santander (1,292), TSB (71).


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