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What are your banking needs as an overseas student?

If you or your child are considering a study abroad or relocation, you'll need to think about how you'll manage your money once you arrive. Choosing the right student bank account, understanding how it works and using credit cards wisely is all part of the process. You'll find that financial products are not the same in every country and every student has different needs.

As a student, you may need to send and receive money transfers both internationally and locally. A scholarship, for example, will be deposited straight into your local account, and your tuition fees can be directly debited out of your account. Parents could also transfer funds into your account digitally, without having to head down to a local bank branch to wire money over.

You can also use your local bank account to:

  • receive foreign currency support
  • pay bills securely, with no extra charges
  • view your account balances and transactions
  • directly deposit your salary (very helpful if you're working part-time to raise money to travel)
  • manage your credit card payments

If you've already arrived at your destination, this checklist for settling in might make your first week or two as an international student, easier.

You might be expected to have a local account

You may find it more difficult to get by in some countries without a local bank account. In the UK, you're usually required to have a bank account to apply for a mobile phone contract and to pay your utility bills. Employers will also expect you to have an account for them to direct deposit your salary into.

If you're moving to the US, having a bank account will make it much easier to manage your finances. You'll probably do most of your day-to-day banking from a chequing account, including paying your bills. Any scholarships or financial aid you'll receive will most likely come as a cheque or be directly deposited into your account.

Choosing the account that's right for you

Some bank accounts that are geared toward students and graduates come with incentives: cash rewards, welcome deposits, railcards, and no maintenance fees or minimum balance.

Besides the incentives, you'll want to consider ATM fees both at home and abroad, how good the online and mobile banking tools are (can you do all your banking on the go?), and whether you think you might need a credit card.

Will you need a credit card?

Are you considering getting a credit card? Think carefully about your ability to repay before applying. When used appropriately, a credit card is convenient and can help build your credit history.

Factors to consider

  • If you don't manage your spending properly, you can get into quite a bit of debt with a credit card. Only paying the minimum amount each month just prolongs this debt and adds interest to your loan.
  • Some cards may charge you a fee if you go over your credit limit, if you use your card overseas, or if you make a late payment. The fees can pile up easily and you may risk taking a hit in your credit score.
  • If you use your credit card appropriately, you can get a head start on building a credit score. This is important for renting a home and making major purchases in the future. Start by paying your credit card bill on time and in full every month, instead of just paying the minimum.
  • Be conscious of your spending habits before applying for a credit card. If you already have a credit card, use banking statements that itemise your transactions and set yourself credit limits to avoid overspending.
  • Your parents can help you establish good financial habits with a supplementary credit card. This will give you access to emergency funds if you're ever in need, and will also give your parents peace of mind.
  • Lastly, please note that applications are subject to reviews and approvals. Always be open about your financial situation with the lender.

Getting money to your student account

Transferring money between countries can often be slow and expensive. But with HSBC Global View and Global Transfers (GVGT) it's fast and easy (and free) to send money abroad. GVGT lets you make free, instant transfers to other eligible HSBC accounts worldwide. You can transfer up to USD200,000 (or the currency equivalent) per day in many markets.

GVGT also lets you view and manage all of your eligible worldwide HSBC accounts online, so you can keep an eye on your finances at home and abroad.

Find out more about GVGT

How to set up Global Transfers to send money overseas

Ready to open an overseas account?

If you don't want to worry about overseas transaction or withdrawal fees and will be banking in multiple currencies while studying abroad, consider getting your banking organised before you go. We can help you open an overseas account in more than 30 countries and regions around the world.


We can tell you the best way for you to apply for an overseas account. Simply select your current location and where you would like to open an account. We'll then walk you through the steps.

Learn more about opening an overseas account


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