It can be a worry thinking about finances, exchange rates and bank accounts so hopefully some of the information here will help you with that.

We cannot tell you what to do with your money or which banking option is best for you, so it is worth undertaking some research from home to look at your options. We have outlined some of these in this section.

Many students choose to open a UK bank account when they arrive in the UK and most high street banks have options available for international students. There is a list of banks available in the drop down section below. It is also possible to open a bank account before you leave home via Unizest and not many students are aware that they can do this!

UNIZEST- open a UK account from home

Unizest provides UK e-Current Online Accounts for international students called an Aspire Account. You can open the account before leaving your country as long as you are over the age of 16, have a valid passport and hold an unconditional offer/place at a UK institution. You do not need a UK address as it is possible to go online and add a UK address to your later (even after you arrive in the UK if necessary). You can undertake banking activity online as soon as the account is opened (bank transfers/BACS etc.) and when you reach the UK and confirm your addess a debit card will be issued to you.

There is a small monthly charge of £3 for this current account but it does have some good benefits such as free international bank transfers and cashback options. 

Please visit the UniZest website for further information regarding the application process, the fees, and the terms and conditions of the account. If you decide to open an Aspire account from home and then want to switch to another bank when you have settled into the uk, this is permissable, the only fee for this is a £5 charge to transferring any remaining funds out of your account into a new one.

You can find further information about Unizest on their website and can watch a video about the Aspire account here.

If you do not have an Aspire account, it is worthwhile making sure that you have an credit or debit card from home which you can use to spend or withdraw money in the UK (or even having one as an emergency back up). Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Maestro are all popular providers that can be used at UK cash machines (ATM's). If you will need access for a large sum of money, to pay for private accommodation fees for example, you may need to bring a Traveller's Cheque with you.

Do not travel with large sums of money.

Never transfer money to someone that you do not know, or who only know a little bit, who is already in the UK. Banks are suspicious of this type of transaction and might close their account. If the person is taking money as they promise you a good exchange rate, this is very risky and you could lose all your money. Several students have recently lost thousands of pounds in this way. Bad money exchange agents may approach you via social media (weechat/weibo) and this should make you instantly wary! Always use a bank or reputable currency exchange company to convert your money for you. You may think you are saving money but it is not a saving if you are left with nothing!

Which bank should I go to in the UK?

There are lots of banks for students to choose from and a good way to find out which are the best for students is to ask other students who are already studying here. You should also look into what services they offer, any charges they make and what benefits that would bring you, before deciding which account suits you best. Choosing a local high street bank near to where you live may also be more convenient as it is often easier to communicate with people effectively face to face. Make sure that the account you choose has internet banking and that you set this up. This can save you time and effort later if you need bank statements for immigration applications or other reasons. Please read our Banking Information Leaflet for full instructions.

Banks in Swansea

Opening a bank account will usually involve visiting the local branch of the bank in question. They will require a range of documentation including personal identification (passport and student visa or national photo ID card as appropriate) and a letter from the university confirming study details. You can request a letter from MyUniHub by visiting the reception desk or emailing myunihub@swansea.ac.uk.

It can take time to set up a UK account so it is important that you set up an account as soon as possible to store your money safely.