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.”