Person using a card to withdraw cash from an ATM

Heading to college? You'll need a student current account.

We've got info on all of the student current accounts out there.

If you finished school this year, you’re probably still recovering from the Leaving Cert, and the post-exam celebrations! But, if you’re one of the thousands who plans on heading to college, it won’t be long now before you’re hitting the road.

In the midst of Fresher’s week, meeting tonnes of new people, and trying to get your head around life away from home, the last thing on your mind will be signing up for a bank account, but it is something you should think about.

More often than not, students sign up for the on-campus bank (if they’re lucky enough to have one) or the one giving out the best freebies in the initial weeks around college. But, as you’ll likely be with the bank you choose at least until you finish your course, it’s worth looking past the gimmicks and seeing which one offers the best deal for you in the longer term.

Student current accounts

All of the major banks offer student variations of their current accounts. These are normally fee-free and have benefits like the option to apply for an interest-free overdraft.

The AIB Student Plus Account has features like:

  • no account maintenance and transaction fees;
  • the option to apply for reduced rate loans and overdrafts;
  • a debit card which can be used at home and abroad; and
  • the option to apply for an AIB Student MasterCard.

They also have in-branch Student Officers and a dedicated Student Centre where you can chat about your account, and get advice on loans, credit cards etc.

Bank of Ireland’s 3rd level current account has no charge for:

  • lodgements, direct debits and standing orders;
  • withdrawals at Bank of Ireland ATMs or in branches;
  • debit card transactions and cash back (although you may be charged if using these services abroad); and
  • debit/credit transactions using online, phone or mobile banking.

The bank also offer a Visa Debit Card with free contactless payments, and people with student accounts can apply for student loans with preferential rates.

The KBC Student Account has no quarterly maintenance fees, and also doesn’t charge any fees on: ATM or cheque lodgements; contactless card debit transactions and cashback; or direct debits and standing orders.

Another option is the permanent tsb Student Account, which has: no lodging fees; no quarterly fees no direct debit fees; and no standing order fees. Students can also apply for exemption on Foreign Exchange charges.

permanent tsb has also recently launched its GoREWARDS scheme which allows account-holders to earn points when they use their Visa debit card. They can then use the points to redeem various offers.

Last but not least, Ulster Bank’s Student Account has: no transaction or maintenance fees; no fees for standing orders or direct debits; interest-free student overdrafts; commission free travel money; and the option to apply for a student credit card.

At first glance, the accounts may look similar, but it’s worth looking at things like interest on student credit cards and loans too, as these will differ from bank to bank, and could become important if you do need access to credit down the line.

Ways to bank

All of the banks that offer student accounts also give account holders access to mobile banking - be it online, by phone, or both. This is increasingly important as it could be difficult to get to the bank what with all of the lectures and, of course, socialising!

When you’re opening an account, you’ll need to provide documents like passport and proof of address, as well as evidence of the course you’re studying. Most banks will require your course to be at least 1 year in order to give you access to a student account. And, if you’re going to be accessing overdraft or other credit facilities you’ll need to be 18 or over.

Remember, when you’re choosing an account, take some time to look past the initial gimmicks and choose the one that’s right for you. It may not seem important now, but you’ll be glad in the longer-term.