December 3, 2022

The Best Savings Account for International Students: How to Save Money While Studying Abroad


When you're a student, every penny counts. That's why it's important to find the best savings account for international students. There are a lot of different types of accounts out there, so it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. In this blog post, we'll discuss the different options and help you find the perfect savings account for your needs!

What to consider when choosing a savings account for international students?

There are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when choosing the best savings account for international students. First, consider the fees. Many banks charge high fees for international transactions, so you'll want to find an account that has low or no fees. Banks can charge up to 5 or 6% on foreign transactions so check this! Second, think about the interest rate. The higher the interest rate, the more money you'll earn on your savings. Finally, consider the account's features. Some accounts come with special features like ATM access or online banking. Choose an account that has the features you need and that fits your budget.

You will need some or all of the following (check before you apply):

  • In-date passport
  • Valid Visa
  • Proof of UK address
  • Bank statement from your existing bank from the past 3 months
  • Proof of university enrolment

Now that you know what to look for in a savings account, let's discuss some of the best options out there

The different types of savings accounts available

There are a few different types of savings accounts available for international students. The most common type is a savings account with a local bank. These accounts typically have low fees and offer competitive interest rates. Another option is an online savings account. These accounts often have higher interest rates and no monthly fees. Finally, you could also open a savings account with a foreign bank. These accounts can be a good option if you're looking for higher interest rates and special features like ATM access. The advantage of a domestic bank is that you have easy access to branches, especially if you're based in London or another large city.

Consider also if you ever expect to go overdrawn on your account: banks vary in their overdraft fees and these can quickly spiral out of control if not covered quickly. The problem is that unlike domestic student accounts, accounts aimed at international students often don't come with free overdrafts, or overdrafts at all. The banks are aware you may not be staying for more than a year or so, and provide services accordingly.

How to decide which account is right for you

Now that you know about the different types of savings accounts available, it's time to choose the best one for you. If you want the highest interest rate and don't mind paying monthly fees, an online savings account is a good option. If you're looking for low fees and a competitive interest rate, a savings account with a local bank is a good choice. And if you want special features like ATM access, a savings account with a foreign bank might be the best option for you.

No matter what type of savings account you choose, remember to shop around and compare interest rates before opening an account. This will help you ensure that you're getting the best deal possible!

It could also be that your best solution is having a number of different accounts for different purposes. This way you can clearly demarcate which accounts you use for which country or purpose, and manage them individually. We wrote a guide on this process of building a "bank stack" here. This can be particularly useful for taking advantage of limited time offers and having smaller challenger bank accounts for things like money transfer, where they are most competitive. Here are some of the most popular options for the best savings account for international students:

Chart comparing options for the best savings account for international students

It is also worth bearing in mind that these are mostly legacy banks, who are usually the best options for savings products. For day to day spending, users might prefer to take advantage of the range of neo-banks like Monzo, Revolut or Starling. These often have good introductory offers and are useful for day to day spending. They also have money transfer often powered by Wise which is a good option for money transfer.

Tips for saving money while studying abroad

In addition to finding the best savings account for international students, there are a few other things you can do to save money while studying abroad. First, try to live a simple lifestyle. This means eating out less, avoiding unnecessary purchases, and living in a cheaper apartment or dorm. This is much easier said than done, and often impossible in a large city like London. However, you can mitigate spending by planning accommodation well in advance of moving, and reaching out to existing students who will have ideas on where you can get the most bang for your buck. This gives the added benefit of finding out more about the city before the move. Second, get a part-time job. This can help you offset the cost of living and give you some extra spending money. Again, easier said than done but this can be made less time consuming by doing work online. Coding, website building, design, copywriting and proofreading are all examples of skills that can be monetised online in small chunks. Finally, make a budget and stick to it. This will help you track your expenses and make sure you're not overspending. A good place to start this is our guide to building an emergency fund and starting your investing journey, which can be found here.

Final thoughts

Saving money as a student can be tough, but it's important to start building your savings now. By choosing the best savings account for international students and following a few simple tips, you can make sure you're on the right track to financial success! Which one of these do you think is the best savings account for international students? Do you use a different system? Reach out below and let us know. You can also sign up for the Strabo platform below to manage these accounts together.

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