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Banks and banking

Why you need a Bank or Building Society account

University salaries can only be paid into a United Kingdom bank account or building society account. National Westminster and Royal Bank of Scotland have branches on campus, but there are other major banks and building socities from which to select.

There are many different types of account available in the UK. It is also possible to have more than one account and they need not be at the same bank or building society. Please note that some banks and building societies may charge to transfer money into accounts not managed by them.

A cash card allows you to withdraw money from your account via a cash machine without charging you. You will be issued with a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN). A debit card looks very similar to a cash card, but it also has a metallic chip. This card allows you to withdraw money from your account via a cash machine and can also be used to purchase goods in shops in place of cash or cheques, though some shops require you to spend at least £5 in order to use it.

Cheques are another means of paying for goods and services instead of cash. If you decide to get a cheque book you will need to ask the bank to show you how to fill cheques out as the process may be different from your home country. Along with a cheque book you will receive a cheque guarantee card that you may be required to show in shops to ensure that they will receive payment.

Standing orders and direct debit facilities allow you to set up an automatic payment and are commonly used to pay for rent and bills. As you can choose the frequency and the date that the money will be withdrawn from your account, many people opt for them to be paid on or around their pay day.

Current accounts differ from bank to bank. They can offer a range of conveniences, such as cash cards, debit cards and cheque books, so you should ask the bank or building socity what is available to you.

A savings account is designed to help you save money. Many people in the UK have a savings account as well as a current account to help them save by making the money harder to access. Some savings accounts will only offer you a cash card or state that you have to withdraw money in a branch to discourage you from spending your savings. The rates and types of savings accounts vary widely and you should get more information about your options before committing.

Once you have decided which bank or building society best meets your requirements, you will need to open an account. You can do this by visiting the relevant branch office during its opening hours. You will need to take with you:

  • a sum of money to deposit
  • your passport
  • a copy of your employment contract or other proof of income
  • proof of your address
  • If applicable, you should also take your residence permit with you.

Statement of account

These are posted to your home address usually once a month and will show all transactions since your last statement, they will also show the current balance of your account. If you have any queries about the details shown on your statement you should raise these with your bank or building society as soon as possible.


Interest may be paid to you if your account is in credit (although not all cheque accounts offer interest). This money is taxable and the bank will deduct the appropriate tax before placing the balance of interest in your account.

Interest is paid by you if the account is overdrawn (that is you have removed more money from you account than you have deposited). Levels of interest vary according to circumstances. Banks will have leaflets explaining the charges that they make. Unauthorised overdrafts are normally charged at a high rate to discourage the practice.