How easy is it to access UK banking for students from Canada?
Canada ranks as one of the ten countries that send the most international students to the UK, with around 6,000 Canadian students coming to study in the UK each year, according to UKCISA.
There are obvious advantages for Canadian students studying in the UK, for example the shared native language for English-speaking Canadians – and there have even been suggestions of introducing free movement between some Commonwealth nations, including between Canada and the UK.
Until that happens, the two countries still share a lot of history and a close modern-day relationship, not to mention a very similar sense of humour.
Coming from Canada to study in the UK
If you’re interested in studying in the UK as a Canadian international student, you can find specific information on individual universities’ websites, but there’s also general help available from the British Council in Canada.
Remember, you don’t have to study for an undergraduate degree, or even for a postgraduate degree – there are also opportunities like HNDs, MBAs and doctorates, all of which you may be able to pursue on a student visa.
Also remember that you don’t have to study in London, as there are some great universities in the north of England, as well as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all of which are part of the UK.
Plan your spending
When you get here – and even before you get here – there are certain costs you should plan for, including your travel costs to get to the UK and those first fees you might face such as a security deposit on a rental property.
Beyond that there are the regular living costs, such as food, drink, household bills and even entertainment, all of which you should factor into your total budget.
Having an account local to the UK can help your money to go further, by avoiding currency exchange fees when you spend directly from an account balance in pounds sterling.
You can also sometimes save money on things like gas and electricity bills when you sign up to pay by Direct Debit – this takes the money out of your account when a bill is due, and you will often be offered a discount for giving your utility provider permission to do this.
How to get UK banking for students from Canada
You usually won’t be able to open a UK bank account far in advance of actually travelling to the UK – and in many cases you can’t start the process of opening an account in advance at all.
Sometimes UK banks will offer a service to request an account 30 days before you travel, but there’s no guarantee that it will be fully approved and ready to use when you arrive.
This can be problematic if there are costs you need to be able to pay from a UK account immediately on arrival, for example if you want to set up a standing order to pay your rent automatically month by month.
If you can open an account faster on arrival in the UK, you may be able to save money compared with paying from a Canadian bank account and incurring foreign exchange charges – and having an account ready to set up regular payments when you’re new to the UK saves time switching things over later.
Arro Money – The alternative to UK banks
Arro Money offers an alternative to the long and complex application process with UK banks. The Arro Personal Account is not a bank account, but it gives you access to online transfers, Faster Payments and Direct Debits.
It also gives you a MasterCard® debit card, which you can use online, in shops and to make cash machine withdrawals so you have some spending money in your pocket when you need it.
Crucially for international students new to the UK, the Arro Personal Account application process takes just three minutes and we guarantee to accept all eligible applications, subject to our basic Fair Fit test.
How do I apply?
There are just a few basic requirements:
- You must be over 18.
- You must have a current UK address (e.g. your term-time accommodation).
We run an ID check to verify your name and identity, but it’s not a credit check, and we will never access your credit file – so there are no black marks for applying, just an online account in minutes that lets you manage your money during your studies.