Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Graduate Accounts

Cut the cost of post-uni banking

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out

Sally and Helen S | Edited by Johanna

Updated July 2018

If you  get a better graduate account deal I'll eat my hat!Don't stick with your student bank after uni – loyalty can cost! Banks love fresh grads and offer exclusive deals, such as 0% overdrafts for up to three years. You'll get uni perks all over again, but this time, it could be better.

If you've graduated in the past three years, see if you can ditch and switch your account to save £100s in fees.

The five BIG need-to-knows

  • Overdrawn? Get the biggest 0% deal possible

    The ultimate goal is to get a 0% overdraft to cover your full overdraft debt for as long as possible.

    First check what your existing bank offers, then compare to the top deals for switchers below in our top 0% graduate overdrafts section, though be aware that you'll need to pass a credit check to get a new account.

    This isn't about borrowing more. The aim is that by not paying interest, more of your money goes towards clearing your actual debt – and do it ASAP as the 0% won't last forever.

  • Graduate accounts aren't just for new graduates

    Stick with your current student account and you may find your 0% overdraft quickly diminishing in the first year after university. Some graduate accounts offer preferential terms for up to three years after graduation.

    Therefore, even if you graduated in 2016 or 2017, you may still be able to gain by switching to a graduate account now.

  • Use 0% interest to wean yourself OFF overdrafts

    You'll have to pay off the overdraft at some point, usually after two or three years. Fail to do so and you'll be subject to astronomical charges and fees. The aim of the game is to gradually reduce the overdraft so that by the time you're being charged for it, you no longer have one. Banks try and encourage this by reducing the maximum 0% overdraft each year – the idea being that by the time the 0% ends you'll have paid it off.

    For a £2,000 overdraft which reduces gradually over three years, repayments need to be at least £56 a month. In other words, at the end of each month, your total overdraft should be £56 less than the previous month. To help, use the Free Budget Planner and Money Makeover guides.

  • Never go over your overdraft limit – BUDGET!

    Budgeting isn't a rule just for students, it's a rule for life. The game changes if you go beyond your overdraft limit – charges shoot up and you can be caught in a vicious cycle that's tough to ever escape.

    If you're struggling, talk to the bank at least. Try to agree an extension but remember, you are likely to be charged hefty interest between 9.9% EAR and 19.9% EAR. It's always far better to plan and budget to avoid this.

    If you go over your limit without permission, the charges can be enormous – up to £15 per transaction (so a shopping trip in five shops spending £30 on your debit card could mean £75 of charges!).

  • Likely to be in credit? Max out your interest

    If you're one of the lucky ones who'll be in credit for your first few years of 'grown-up' banking, forget overdrafts – focus on accounts which pay top rates and more, including cashback, travel insurance, or a cash sum upon switching.

    These tend to give useful perks, rather than standard graduate deals of an extended 0% overdraft. Therefore to get them you'll usually need a regular income of more than a set minimum. See the Top In-Credit accounts for more.

Best buys Top graduate 0% overdrafts 2018/19

To be a winner here, banks must offer the biggest 0% overdrafts for the longest period.

All limits are "up-to" amounts, so you're not guaranteed to get them – how much you get depends on your credit score.

However, providing you've got no glaring issues on your credit file, the chances of getting the full amounts are decent.

All of the following accounts require you to pass a credit check (see Credit Rating guide).

Barclays Bank logo

Up to £3,000 0% overdraft in first year, plus £4/mth+ rewards

Barclays

The Barclays Higher Education Account is a decent option thanks to its generous fee-free overdraft of up to £3,000 in year one.

Like other graduate accounts the maximum is only in year one, and you get less in subsequent years – up to £2,000 in year two and £1,000 in year three. The lowering limit provides a clear goal to help you clear the debt quicker but is also risky were you to miss that goal.

If you sign up to its Blue Rewards scheme, for a £3 monthly fee, you'll get at least £7/month back – so £4/mth after the fee – as long as you pay in £800+ and pay out at least two direct debits each month. You can get even more if you hold selected Barclays products.

Need-to-knows
  • You're not guaranteed to get the maximum £3k overdraft – it depends on your credit record.
  • Barclays takes your graduation date to be 30 June of the final year of your course. After three years, you'll be transferred to a standard Barclays account.
  • You need to apply in branch, bringing your degree certificate and two pieces of ID/proof of address (see full list).
  • Barclays has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.

How Barclays rates on service

45% Great

37% okay

18% poor

Date: Feb 2018 Voters: 368

Stats box
  • 0% overdraft: 1st year after graduation, up to £3,000; 2nd year, up to £2,000; 3rd year, up to £1,000
  • Arranged overdraft cost (above limit): No fee up to £1,000; 50p/day between £1,000 and £2,000; £1/day for amounts over £2,000, max £3,000.
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: No unauthorised overdraft available, but £8 per day as a service fee for unpaid items.
  • In-credit interest: None
TSB Bank logo

Up to £2,010 0% overdraft in first year

TSB

TSB's Graduate Account offers fee-free overdraft limits of up to £2,010 in year one. The fee-free limit will decrease every year - to £1,510 in year two and £1,010 in year three - but it's still higher than many other options out there.

Warning. In April, TSB suffered a major IT meltdown, causing months of disruption which is still ongoing for some. We've still highlighted this account because it has a decent offering, but it's something to be aware of before applying.

Need-to-knows
  • You're not guaranteed to get the maximum £2,010 overdraft – it depends on your credit record.
  • After three years, you'll be transferred to a TSB Classic account.
  • You need to apply in branch, bringing confirmation of graduation and two pieces of ID/proof of address (see full list).
  • TSB has the full £85,000 UK savings safety guarantee.

How TSB rates on service

62% Great

30% okay

7% poor

Date: Feb 2018 Voters: 442

Stats box
  • 0% overdraft: 1st year after graduation, up to £2,010; 2nd year, up to £1,510; 3rd year, up to £1,010
  • Arranged overdraft cost (above limit): £6/mth usage fee plus 16.77% EAR
  • Unarranged overdraft fees: £6/mth usage fee. £10 buffer then £5/day for £10-£25; £10/day for more than £25. Plus 16.77% EAR. Max £80/mth total charges.
  • In-credit interest: None

Compare all graduate accounts

Graduate accounts are offered by nine high street banks – we've basic info here about the overdrafts you could get, though no bank offers a guaranteed overdraft - whether you'll get one depends on your individual circumstances.

All graduate accounts compared
Bank account Max fee-free overdraft limits Monthly cost of arranged overdraft £100 over fee-free limit Can you switch to this account after graduation?
Bank of Scotland Graduate Account Up to £2,000 in year 1, up to £1,500 in year 2, and up to £1,000 in year 3. £4.34

No

Barclays Higher Education Account Up to £3,000 in year 1, up to £2,000 in year 2, and up to £1,000 in year 3. N/A in year 1. £31 in year 2. £15.50 if over £1,000 and £31 if over £2,000 in year 3.

Yes; must prove you graduated within the past three years

Halifax Student Current Account Up to £1,500 in the first year only. £4.34

No - you can keep your Student Account for one year after you graduate

HSBC Graduate Bank Account

Up to £1,500 in year 1 and up to £1,000 in year two.

£1.55

Yes; must prove you graduated within the past two years

Lloyds Bank Graduate Account Up to £2,000 in year 1, up to £1,500 in year 2, and up to £1,000 in year 3. £4.34

No

Nationwide FlexGraduate Up to £2,500 in year 1, up to £1,750 in year 2, and up to £1,000 in year 3. N/A No
NatWest Graduate Account Up to £2,000 in year 1 and up to £1,000 in year 2. £1.40 Yes; must prove you graduated within the past three years
RBS Graduate Account Up to £2,000 in year 1 and up to £1,000 in year 2. £0.81

Yes; must prove you graduated within the past three years

TSB Graduate Account

Up to £2,010 in year 1, up to £1,510 in year 2, and up to £1,010 in year 3

£7.46 (including £6/mth usage fee)

Yes; must prove you graduated within the past three years

Top in-credit current accounts

If you don't need an overdraft after graduating, then don't go for a graduate account. These standard bank accounts have perks such as free cash or vouchers for switching, linked 5% regular savers, and monthly cash rewards.

However, their overdrafts are often much smaller, or more expensive. Only do this if being overdrawn is a very unlikely scenario. To get any of the following you must have an adequate credit rating (see Credit Rating guide).

For the full range of our top pick accounts, see the Best Bank Accounts guide.

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out