Money Matters

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Bank Machines

Bankcards with the Cirrus or Plus logo can be used at ATMs or “cash points” in the UK. However, you will normally be assessed a service charge for accessing funds this way.

Check with the bank you use in your home country as many banks have reciprocal agreements with overseas banks whereby you can use your debit card at certain financial institutions without incurring hefty service charges.

Many cash points will not accept cards with PINs longer than four digits or beginning with zero (even if it does have a Cirrus or Plus logo). If your PIN begins with a zero or is longer than four digits, you should change it before you leave.

Some Canadian banks have partnerships with UK banks, which can reduce transaction fees.

Credit Cards

You are advised to bring a credit card with you; it is highly unlikely that a UK bank will issue you a credit card when in the UK. Credit cards are extremely useful in emergency situations, as well as for booking a flight or hotel room.

Make sure that your credit card PIN does not begin with zero and is not longer than four digits. Most ATMs will accept foreign cards but American Express may not be accepted in all places. Save all your receipts and compare them with your statement to make sure the exchange and amount withdrawn was correct. Look at the symbols on your card and the machine to ensure compatibility before putting your cards in.

At many foreign banks it is possible to use a credit card to get cash. The amount charged to your credit card bill is normally based on the exchange rate on the day that your bank or credit card company processes the transaction. If you are accessing money this way, you’ll want to be sure that you pay your credit card bill quickly as interest will be begin to accrue as soon as the cash advance is made.

Prepaid Travel Credit Cards

You may wish to investigate prepaid travel credit cards, offered by various banks and institutions:

Please note there may be a fee for this type of card, and that you should be aware of the transaction fees.

Setting up a UK Bank Account

Opening a UK bank account is by far the safest and most effective way of managing your money as an international student. However, the process can often be quite long and complicated so it important that you are patient, prepared and keep the following points in mind prior to setting up a bank account:

  • If you are on a programme of less than 6 months, it may not be possible to open a bank account in the UK.
  • Banks in the UK follow their own rules and identity checks which are completely separate from the BISC. In order to keep your money safe, banks are very restricted in the ways they communicate with customers and in terms of their processes. This means that you need to attend a bank in person, meet with one of their advisors and sometimes complete a paper application form in order to open a bank account.
  • You may need to visit the bank more than once to set up your account, and once you have set up the account, you may have to wait around 10 days for your bank card to arrive.
  • The BISC has no influence over the types of accounts banks offer to students, the documentation they require or any other of their processes. We don’t recommend any specific banks and it is up to you to decide which bank you would like to open an account with.

With this in mind, it is important that you bring sufficient funds to cover initial expenses for your first month in the UK. For safety reasons, it is not a good idea to bring large sums of cash; look for alternative options such as using Travellers Cheques or pre-paid cash cards.

Some of the main banks in the UK are: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, and NatWest. These banks normally open accounts for international students if the appropriate documentation is provided and meets their requirements.

The BISC does not endorse any particular bank; be aware that not all UK banks offer accounts to international students.

Documentation

The documentation you will need to provide varies depending on which bank you select to open an account with. However, as a general rule, you will need to ensure you have the following in place:

  • Your passport and valid visa (including your BRP)
  • Proof of student status and proof of address in the UK and in your home country
    • You can request a letter indicating your residency in the UK at Bader Hall. Please contact Student Services at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cashing Facility

The BISC operates a Cashing Facility on campus that operates twice-weekly. You can cash up to £50 each time for a charge of £1 and up to £100 for £2. Sterling traveller’s cheques and credit or debit cards backed by VISA or MasterCard can be used to obtain cash. Payments are put through as a purchase and not as a cash advance to reduce costs to you. The service operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15pm-2:15pm.

Safety Deposit

Students may deposit currency, valuables, and passports the Finance Office safe. Contents must be in a secure container. Please ensure you arrange access to your valuable items at least 48 hours in advance as it is not possible to access the safe at the weekends. Do not leave large amounts of cash in your room!

VAT

In the UK, prices shown include sales tax (the Value Added Tax, known as the VAT). If you purchase items of any appreciable value while in the country you can get a form from the shop to claim the VAT back. The standard VAT is 20%, so it’s well worth the effort in most cases, but some stores have a minimum purchase requirement before doing this; others will deduct a service charge. Check out the UK Government guide to reclaiming your VAT.

Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
Fax: +44 1323 834499
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
Fax: (613) 533-6810
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