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Banking Terms Every Student Should Know

Updated: Jan 5

Understanding the Basic Terms in Banking and Finance for Students

When FromHighSchooltoUni recently asked one of our Members if she thought any topic was missing from our Member Resources collection, she told us that her son had initially been confused by all the banking terms and jargon when he opened a student bank account, and it would be helpful to provide a glossary of banking terms.

Whether you are opening a student bank account, applying for a debit card or credit card, or managing your budget, you need to understand the basic terms and features of banking services.

In this article, we will explain some of the most common banking terms every student should know, and give you some tips on how to choose the best bank for your needs.


Guide to Opening a Student Bank Account

Opening a student bank account and deciding with which bank you are opening your account is one of the first and most important tasks you will do when you start university. Along with setting up a budget, it is one of the first decisions you will have to make.

When deciding on which bank to open an account with, research your options.

Do not settle for the first one you see.

Each bank will have different terms and conditions and a selection of ‘freebies’ to attract students, such as discounts in shops, a free or discounted transport card, a start-up contribution to your account, or a free overdraft facility.

Focus on what each bank is offering you and ask yourself whether or not you would benefit from it.

Ask other students who they bank with and whether they are happy with the service they receive, whether there are any hidden charges, etc.

It's also important to check if their offers are only for nationals/permanent residents or also for international students, as you may not have the same conditions.


Choose The Right Bank Card For Your Needs

Take the time to research what you will need: debit card vs credit cards.

Read and understand their features, the small print and the potential fees involved.

Ask the bank to explain in-depth to you if you do not understand at first. It may seem like they are throwing money at you!

A general rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true - there is generally a catch – be wary and do your research!


The Most Common Banking Terms & What They Mean for Students


Automated Teller Machine - the 'hole in the wall' in front of banks to withdraw cash.

Be careful though if you use your debit card from one bank in the ATM of another bank, as you may be charged a transaction fee!

In addition, if you use your credit card to withdraw cash, you will be charged either a percentage of the amount you withdrew, or a fixed transaction fee (this can make your withdrawal expensive!).

Credit Card

Debit Card

Prepaid Card


Want more tips on banking for students?

For a more comprehensive look at banking terms and other financial guidance, subscribe to our Members Resources to access our complete library of resources specifically designed to help students prepare, survive and thrive at university.

FromHighSchooltoUni membership is a one-time low-cost fee that gives you lifetime access to over 30 checklists and student guides.

Are You Heading Off to University This Year?

We have a whole chapter on banking and budgeting in our book FromHighSchooltoUni, and this was just a little snippet. Did you find it useful? Order our book for your step-by-step-guide to help you transition university and settle in quickly and enjoy campus life.

Don't forget to visit our FromHighSchooltoUni website and download all our packing lists, accommodation guides, student budget calculators as well as our Free Resources to help you settle in stress-free!

Business card detailing contact details of

Philippa Dobree-Carey

Founder, From High School to Uni

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