Where to find the best graduate account

If you’ve just graduated and are turning your thoughts to how you are going to repay your student debts, the good news is that the preferable terms and conditions you enjoyed on your student current account won’t suddenly come to an end.

Graduate with a hat on
In fact, most of the banks and building societies that offer student accounts also offer deals for graduates. Your existing provider will transfer you over to its graduate account but you don’t have to stay put.

You may find you can get a better deal by switching your current account – and don’t worry, banks are willing to take you and your overdraft.

What are my options?

We’ve taken a look at six of the leading graduate accounts to help you decide which is right for you.

Barclays Graduate Additions Account

Available for three years after graduation

This graduate account comes with a competitive range of extras, but graduates will pay £7 a month for the privilege. You also need to have a job or firm job offer, with a minimum contract of six months, in order to apply for this deal.

You get a free £200 overdraft straight up and can then apply for up to £3,000 interest-free, depending on how long it’s been since you graduated (so, if you finished uni within the last year, you can ask for the full £3,000; then if it was two to three years ago, you can only apply for £2,000 and so on).

The extras aren’t freebies, you’re paying for them through your monthly fee, so make sure you actually want them before picking this account. You get mobile phone insurance, RAC breakdown cover – including at-home assistance – and access to a legal advice helpline.

HSBC Graduate Account

Available for two years after graduation

HSBC's graduate account is open to UK-based graduates and there’s no minimum monthly payment needed, making it an option if you haven't yet found full-time work.

In the first year after graduation, you can qualify for up to £1,500 of interest-free overdraft, which falls to £1,000 in your second year.

Account holders can apply for a graduate loan with a typical annual percentage rate of just 8.5% for borrowing between £7,000 and £15,000.

When it comes to perks, there are some genuinely useful ones. With its Identity Theft Assistance service, account holders get one free online credit report each year. There’s also free mobile banking as long as your phone is with O2, T-Mobile or Tesco Mobile – Orange, Vodafone and Virgin mobile customers may have to pay a small charge for the service.

Lloyds TSB Graduate Account

Available for three years after graduation

To qualify for the Lloyds account, you have to pay at least £500 into your account each month and use it as your main current account.

The account offers an interest-free overdraft of up to £2,000 in the first year, £1,500 in the second year and £1,000 in the third year.

In terms of linked products, account holders can apply for a graduate loan of between £5,000 and £10,000, with a competitive APR of 9.9%.

For £2.50 a month, you can access the bank’s mobile banking pack, which allows you to request your balance and last six transactions by text whenever you like, plus receive warning texts when you get close to your overdraft limit. The good news is that this service will become free for all customers from December 2 this year. 

In terms of freebies, this account comes with free Lonely Planet Mini Guides to a variety of destinations, which is a nice-to-have, but not a reason to pick a current account.

NatWest Graduate Account

Available for three years after graduation

To qualify for this account, you need to be a UK graduate, so it’s a suitable deal for people who can’t guarantee they will pay in a set amount each month, perhaps because they haven’t moved into their first full-time role.

The account comes with a tiered interest-free overdraft of up to £2,000 for three years, to allow you time to bring down your current account charges. Alternatively, it offers an interest-free graduate overdraft repayment plan for the same amount, so you can get your account back in the black and make structured repayments.

You can also set notification limits for your account, so that when you approach the end of your overdraft or dip below a certain level of funds, you receive a text.

Free gifts-wise, you get nothing, but the mobile alerts are a good way of staying in control of your money.

Royal Bank of Scotland Graduate Royalties Account

Available for three years after graduation

This is another graduate account that has no minimum monthly deposit or monthly fees, making it a flexible choice for new university leavers.

You can apply for an interest-free overdraft of up to £2,000, falling to £1,500 two years after graduation and £1,000 after three years. Alternatively, you can apply for an interest-free overdraft repayment loan if you prefer something a bit more structured.

Account holders can also apply for a graduate loan of up to £15,000, with incredibly competitive rates on offer – for example, a graduate loan of £5,000 would come with a typical APR of just 3.8%. Of course, that is variable, so not everyone will qualify for such a low rate.

In terms of perks, you can save 10% on flights and holidays, plus 25% off tickets for gigs and other entertainments if you book them through the Royalties Membership Service.

Santander Graduate Account

Available to recent graduates

If you’re studying further then Santander has a specific Postgraduate Current Account, but for university leavers, it’s offering a decent graduate package.

To qualify, you need to be resident in the UK and have completed either your first undergraduate course or postgraduate training, meaning again it’s an option for people who are still trying to find their feet and can’t guarantee a monthly paycheck.

It comes with a 0% overdraft of up to £2,000, which decreases over three years, allowing you to pay it off gradually.

Account holders get a preferential loan rate that allows them to borrow up to £10,000 at 7.5% typical APR – although, of course, not every graduate will qualify for that kind of borrowing.



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