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The best student bank accounts for 2016

The best student bank accounts for 2016

Each year we review all the student accounts available in Ireland and give our opinion on which one is the best. We look at loans, overdrafts, credit cards, features and the freebies that banks use to sign up students.

Freshers' Week is on its way and thousands of new students are beginning the great college journey. It’s a fantastic time with plenty of exciting decisions to make and things to do … like which societies and clubs to join, which events to attend, which are the best nights out. Then there are some jobs that do need to be done but aren’t much fun. Like setting up a student bank account...

Now we know that Freshers have better things to do right now than research bank accounts, so we do our bit to help by reviewing all the accounts on offer each year and leave the students to focus on the stuff that really matters.

Loving Freshers

Now before we get stuck in, there are a few things worth knowing... Lots of businesses love Freshers - and they’re happy to give out freebies galore because they know that if they get students interested now, they could keep them as customers well after they finish college.

And it’s the banks that especially love Freshers because they know that most students they sign up now will become customers for life (Seriously! Just ask your parents).

Profitable Graduates

Banks also know that graduates are very profitable customers indeed because they earn more; and they take out mortgages and loans and they pay fees.

You mightn’t think it from Freshers Week, but graduates tend to be pretty sensible, stable folks after they finish college too, and the banks love sensible stable customers.

So the banks send hordes of reps with clipboards to the gates of campuses across the country at this time of year with the mission to sign up students.

Gewgaws

Some banks will give out freebies, some will tell you they’re brilliant, and some will offer you cold hard cash. But pause for a moment... are you willing to start a lifelong relationship for the sake of a gewgaw or two?

Which is where bonkers.ie comes in.  We’ll tell you which Student Bank Accounts are doing ok, which ones could try harder and which ones are top of the class. That way you can easily choose the right one for you. Heck, you mightn’t be our customer yet, but we’d love you to think of us when you graduate too :-)

So without further ado… we give you our 2016 Review of the Best Student Bank Accounts in Ireland. Starting in no particular order with:

Ulster Bank Student Account

We say: Ulster Bank’s Student Account is a fee-free, full-featured student account that’ll work well for most students. It has a robust mobile app with some handy features. There’s also a Visa debit card, with contactless payments, and there’s an interest free overdraft and reasonable credit card for times when money is tight. There are no freebies or signup incentives though, and they could do with a proper student loan, but otherwise this is a good all-rounder.

Details
Signup Incentives:
none
Fees: No maintenance and transaction fees
Visa Debit Card: yes
Contactless payments: yes
Mobile App: yes
Internet banking: yes
Overdraft: interest free overdraft of up €1,500 (and up to €2,500 for medicine, law etc.)
Student Credit Card: yes – limit is €450 and the rate is 17.9%
Student Loans: none, although parents can apply for a fixed rate loan to help students with their studies.
Features and Freebies: Get Cash feature mobile app feature allows customers to withdraw cash from an ATM without using a bank card.

Permanent TSB Student Account

We say: The Permanent TSB Student Account is maintenance and transaction free which you would expect from a student account. But they don’t offer much more than that to students. There are no student specific features or offers, there’s no student loan, no student credit card, and no student overdraft. Permanent TSB’s current account is full-featured though, and offers mobile and internet banking, a visa debit card and contactless payments. This account is good if you don’t need any credit, but it could offer more for students.

Details
Signup Incentive: none
Fees: No maintenance and transaction fees
Visa Debit Card: yes
Contactless payments: yes
Mobile app: yes
Internet banking: yes
Overdraft: no student specific overdraft
Student Credit Card: no student specific credit card
Student Loans: No student specific loans
Features and Freebies: GoREWARDS is available to all Permanent TSB current account holders and offers cashback with select retailers. There is also an Emergency Cash feature that allows customers to withdraw cash from an ATM without an ATM card.

KBC Student Current Account

We say: It’s very hard to argue with the lure of free cash. Forty quid just for opening a bank account and another sixty in a few months’ time? Lovely. There’s a student credit card available too with a solid €1,000 limit, a decent 14% rate, and 1% cashback. But free cash has a way of vanishing fast, and although KBC’s Student Account is a proper full-featured, fee-free account, there are no student specific loans available. And with college life becoming more and more expensive, this may turn some students away. Still though, this is a good all-rounder with a proper student friendly signup incentive.

Details
Signup Incentive: €100 paid as €40 when the account is opened and €60 in January as long as there have been at least 10 debit card transactions.
Fees: No maintenance and transaction fees
Visa Debit Card: yes
Contactless payments: yes
Mobile app: yes
Internet banking: yes
Overdraft: no student specific overdraft
Student Credit Card: yes – limit up to €1,000 and the rate is 14%
Student Loans: no student specific loans
Features and Freebies: Free Cashback feature available but not just for students, this is available with all KBC current accounts.

Bank of Ireland 3rd Level Current Account

We say: This is a full-featured, fee-free student account from Ireland’s largest bank. There have been some changes this year, but there is a good range of loan options available including the popular “J1” loan of €1,000 which allows deferred payments for three months. It was interest free and worth €1,500 last year, but Bank of Ireland have reduced it and will charge 1% this year - which is peculiar because they’ll make less than seven quid over the term of the loan.

There is a Preferred Faculty Loan which is interest-free and available to students on professional courses which is sure to be a winner with the kids who got loads of points. There is no overdraft with Bank of Ireland, but students can apply for a Student Mastercard which offers a reasonable rate and 6 months interest-free on purchases.

This account is hard to beat and is sure to remain very popular this year. Excellent student account.

Details
Signup Incentive:
up to €100 worth of rewards available through Bank of Ireland’s FeelFree student reward program
Fees: No maintenance and transaction fees
Visa Debit Card: yes
Contactless payments: yes
Mobile app: yes
Internet banking: yes
Overdraft: no student specific overdraft
Student Credit Card: Up to €1,000 credit limit, 14.54% rate and 0% on purchases for the first six months.
Student Loan 1: Up to €1,000 student loan at 1% APR. Repayments can be deferred for 3 months, but loan must be fully repaid after 12 months.
Student Loan 2: Up to €5,000 multi-purpose student loan at 9.7% APR to be repaid over 1 – 5 years.
Student Loan 3: Preferred Faculty Loan - up to €2,500 can be borrowed interest-free per year to assist with college/living expenses for students of Medicine, Accountancy, Engineering etc.
Features and Freebies: FeelFree is Bank of Ireland’s student reward program. If you perform a task like logging into online banking, you can choose a reward available in that quarter. Rewards include stuff like cinema passes, bowling, pizza and travel credit.


Best Value Student Account 2016Winner - AIB Student Plus Account

We say: This account was our winner last year because it offered just about everything a student could need, especially credit, which is becoming ever more important with soaring rents and registration fees. Little has changed this year, and this account still ticks all the boxes.

AIB continues to offer the €3,000 per year Contribution Charge Loan which will be a huge help to students struggling to cover the cost of college, while the interest-free overdraft will provide a welcome safety net in times of need. And with a huge €50,000 available as a student loan, AIB makes more credit available to students than any other bank.

It's not just about credit though. AIB's Student Plus Account is full-featured as you'd expect and offers a mobile app, contactless payments and a Visa debit card.

Even the signup incentive is sure to be a winner with AIB recognising that starving students need to eat and offering 20pc off JUST EAT every week for the entire college year.

In our opinion, this is the best student account available in Ireland right now and offers everything a student might need from their bank. Best in class.

Details
Signup Incentive: 20% off JUST EAT for the college year
Fees: No maintenance and transaction fees
Visa Debit Card: yes
Contactless payments: yes
Mobile app: yes
Internet banking: yes
Overdraft: up to €1,500 interest free overdraft
Student Credit Card: yes – limit up to €1,500 and the rate is 14.85%. introductory rate of 3.83% for the first 12 months
Student Loan 1: Contribution Charge Loan - €3,000 available each year for four years with interest only repayment option at 8.15%, APR
Student Loan 2: Up to €50,000 available at 8.15%, APR for terms of 1 to 5 years.
Features and Freebies: 20% off JUST EAT for the college year. Get one 20% off code per week to your mobile and spend up to €50 on takeaway.

Last Word - Fees

One thing students should be aware of that they will be charged fees when they no longer qualify for student/graduate accounts - and fees with some banks can be up to €10 per month for average customers.

What’s really interesting here though is that the banks offering the best student accounts will typically charge the highest fees later, and the banks that could try harder for students have the best value current accounts for regular punters!

And that’s it. Best of luck to the Freshers of 2016, and come back and see us in a few years!


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