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Banks line up to offer students wide range of incentives to open accounts

FREE flights, €100 cash and discount travel cards are among the incentives being used by banks to encourage students to open accounts.

All of the main banks are offering students fee-free banking as well as a range of incentives.

Ulster Bank is offering €100 cash which will be paid out in two €50 installments in January and February. Bank of Ireland is offering a free return flight to a choice of 10 European cities.

AIB is offering a free student travelcard which is worth €12. This may seem like the worst offer but according to experts, AIB is offering some of the best deals on overdrafts and interest rates.

According to discount website, the best overdraft offer is from AIB because it is the biggest available and is interest free.

They said the best loan offer is from Bank of Ireland which is offering up to €2,000 for travel and it is interest free for nine months or the customer can make no payments for nine months.

"This is brilliant because it allows you to go on your J1 and not have to worry about payments or interest until Spring of the following year," said Simon Moynihan of

When it comes to interest rates, AIB is offering 1% for balances up to €1,000.

"Even if you always maintain a balance of over €1,000, you'll still only earn a tenner in interest, but it's better than paying fees. Bank of Ireland again is a close second at 0.75% for balances of up to €1,500 which will actually earn you a little more in interest if you always maintain a balance of over €1,500, but I'm a realist and know there aren't too many student accounts with cash like that year round," said Mr Moynihan.

Editor of, Daniel O'Carroll: "My advice to students would be to choose a bank that's right for you in the long run, rather than the one which offers the best particular deals at the time. I opened an account with Bank of Ireland in first year because I was trying to get one of the free flights, but then decided to switch to AIB because I thought it had more to offer me throughout my time in UCC.

"Getting an overdraft is also an easy trap to fall into but one which doesn't make a lot of sense once the hangover's worn off. It seems like a great idea at the time but when you have that to pay off on top of your other debts once you're an unemployed graduate you won't be laughing."

Mr Moynihan said students should take advantage of the offers while they can.

"The banks aren't dumb though, they take the long view and they know that if they get you while you're in college, they've probably got you for life. That €100 they give you now or the free trip or the interest free travel loan, they'll make it back in spades once you graduate, so like I said, take advantage of them while you can," he added.


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