How to open a UK bank account as an international student

As an international student new to the UK, you’re likely to want a way to manage your money in pounds sterling, to avoid foreign currency charges every time you make a payment or withdraw some cash.

You might also need access to certain financial capabilities, for example the ability to set up Direct Debits and regular payments, make one-off online transfers and card purchases in your own name.

But applying for a UK bank account as an international student can be difficult, and the banks may ask you to attend lots of meetings in person – which is not really realistic if you work long hours or move around a lot.

So what’s the solution? At Arro we believe in helping people who are new to the UK for any reason, and that includes international students. In this article we’ll look at our Arro Personal Account and how it can help you manage your money throughout your student life.

An alternative to international student bank accounts

An international student bank account is an option, but you might not want to go through the application process.

Depending on your choice of bank, you might face questions about:

  • Your address history over several years.
  • Your academic performance and chosen study course.
  • Your long-term plans once your course is completed.
  • Your financial history and credit rating.

Your bank might ask you to prove any information you give them using official paperwork and documents that you might not have brought with you to this country – and even a smooth application is unlikely to give you a fully functioning account and cash card on the same day.

How to open an international student account faster

The Arro Personal Account is not a bank account, but it gives you lots of the same features – a sort code and account number, online dashboard to manage your money, a debit card, and access to services like Faster Payments and Direct Debit.

We guarantee to accept your application as long as you are eligible for the account – which for international students mainly means that you must be over 18 and you must have already arrived into the UK and have your address here to put on your application.

Obviously we understand that students move around year by year – we just need your current address so that we can confirm that you currently live mainly in the UK, and so we can send your debit card to you in the mail.

Best of all, the entire application process takes place online, with no extra paperwork, and can be completed in just three minutes – and we will open your Arro Personal Account immediately.

A same-day international student account with debit card

You can apply for an Arro Personal Account as soon as you arrive in the UK and we will confirm your account on the same day.

Immediately after your account is opened, you will be given:

  • Access to the Arro online dashboard to manage your money.
  • Your account’s sort code and account number so people can pay you.
  • MasterCard® debit card details via SMS so you can start buying things online.

We will get your physical MasterCard® debit card to you in the post as soon as is reasonably possible after opening your account – it comes to your door, so there’s no need to go collect it from a bank branch or wait in a queue to pick it up.

In the meantime, you can use your virtual MasterCard® details like card number and expiry date to buy things from anywhere you can enter the details manually, for example ordering things online.

Receiving money from overseas

Payments into your Arro Personal Account are fee-free. Although the person sending money to you may be charged a fee by their bank, Arro will not charge you to receive money.

Transfers can be made directly into your account using your sort code and account number – which together uniquely identify your Arro Personal Account among all of the accounts issued by UK banks, building societies and electronic money services.

When it comes to using your money, you can make electronic funds transfers using Faster Payments, as well as set up regular standing orders and Direct Debits to pay your bills. Your MasterCard® is a fully functioning debit card accepted throughout the UK and worldwide, and you can use it to withdraw cash from ATMs too.