One of the most important things for you to do once you arrive in the UK is to set up a bank account.  

Opening a bank account in the UK will make it easier to access you funds when you need them. Banks transfers from overseas can take many weeks or even months in some cases.

Understanding British currency

Here in the UK our currency is Pound Sterling—£ (GBP). The UK’s currency is simple to understand and can broken down like this:

  • One British pound (£) is made up of 100 pence (often referred to as 'p' or 'pennies')

  • The different combinations of coins you will come across are: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p £1, £2

  • The different combinations of notes you will come across are: £5, £10, £20 and £50

  • All British currency features an image of the late Queen, or King's head on one side and on the other side it shows a notable historic figure, landmark or national symbol

You can read more about UK Currency on the GB Mag website which includes a useful video to help you familiarise yourself with UK currency. They have also included a couple of the slang words for cash you may hear the locals using. For further information, see this online guide about British money. 

Opening a bank account

One of the most important things for you to do once you arrive in the UK is to set up a bank account.  Opening a bank account in the UK will make it easier to access you funds when you need them. Banks transfers from overseas can take many weeks or even months in some cases.

Which bank?

  • Most “High Street” banks will offer the option to open a “Basic Bank Account” – this account is different to a standard “Current Account”

  • The “Basic” account offers limited facilities but is usually fee-free, allows you to receive money and pay bills. There is no “Overdraft” facility with a Basic account

  • Some banks will also offer accounts specifically designed for International Students

  • Some banks also offer accounts and services that meet Sharia principles – known as “Sharia compliant accounts”

More information on opening a bank account can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

If you are considering opening a UK Bank Account, it is best to choose a bank with a branch close to where you are living in at university. In Staffordshire, most banks have branches in Hanley, the city centre, which is about a 20-minute walk from the University.  For the London campus, Westfield Stratford City is near campus and has a number of bank branches within it. As a university, we can’t recommend which bank to use, however we do recommend shopping around to find the best deal, which works for you.

You can check out some tips for International student banking on Save the Student


Banks tend to talk in their own language – don’t be put off or confused!  Here are some banking and financial definitions to help you.

Common banking queries

Bank statements

Remember to keep your bank statements. If you need to apply for further leave to remain or to travel to another country, you will need to show the latest three months of bank statements. You may not receive bank statements automatically when you set up your account, but you can request bank statements in branch, over the phone, or download them online from most banks. 

Lost or stolen bank cards

If you lose your bank card or it is stolen, it is very important that you inform your bank immediately. Banks usually have a 24-hr service for this. You’ll be asked the last time that you had your card. The bank will stop your card which means it cannot be used in shops or cash machines and you’ll be sent a new card and usually a new PIN.  

Online banking

Most banks will allow you to manage your money online, or through an online banking app. This will allow you to check your balance, send and receive money, view your bank statements, and speak to an advisor if you need help.

As always, ensure you are taking the right precautions to maintain your digital safety. For more information, check out Money Helper's Guide to Online Banking.

Managing your money

Managing your money is a big task, but an important one. There are lots of resources available to help you manage your money, start by reading the guides.

If you're struggling, please don't be afriad to ask for help. All students can visit a Money Doctor at the Students' Union to help plan your finances or get help when times are tough. 

Paying for your Studies

As an International student, it is assumed that you will have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and living expenses while you are in the UK. This is why many international students must prove their funds before they will have their CAS issued. It is therefore very important that you plan appropriately so that you can make the necessary payment deadlines. International students are rarely allowed to alter their payment installments so please be sure to budget yourself and pay your tuition fees early if possible.

The income team will not send you a receipt automatically so if you want one, you will need to contact them directly at

You will not be able to pay your tuition fees in cash so please arrange that your first installment is made before you travel to the UK as you will not be able to open a bank account before you enrol.

Student Debt

Sometimes we all run into trouble and not everything can be controlled. Occasionally, students will find themselves in debt with the University. As already mentioned, there are few accommodations to be made for International student and altered payment plans will not be allowed. If you are struggling with a situation that is out of your control such as illness of a family member or a crisis in your home country, you need to speak to an International advisor for help.


Students who have outstanding debt to the university will become subject to university sanctions. This means the university has the right to withhold assessment results and prevent the student from re-enrolling until the debt is cleared. The international team will not support a visa extension for students with outstanding debt and the university will not report any student debtors for successful completion in regards to the Graduate Route. 

You can read the full Credit Control Policy on the university website.

Fraud and scams

Fraud and scams are a criminal activity committed by those acting in a deceitful way. There are many types of fraud/scams but all have the same principles, the intention of all of them is to gain access to your money. People behind fraud/scams will use different methods to get you to reveal your personal details, steal your information or persuade you to pay them cash. Fraud/scams can seem credible, for example it may appear that emails are from your bank.

It is important to recognise potential fraud/scams so that you are able to protect yourself. If you do become a victim then it is important that you take action - don't be embarrassed, remember the people behind fraud/scams are purposely trying to get hold of your money and can be extremely persuasive and creative in developing ways to access your money.

Indicators of fraud/scams

  • Unexpected or unsolicited calls about your pension

  • Check email sender address - if it contains random numbers or is misspelt it may be a scam

  • It sounds too good to be true

  • Request for personal detail such as a PIN - no legitimate company would ask for this

  • Being pushed to make a quick decision

  • Competitions that you didn't enter

  • Recorded voice when you answer the phone

Further guidance about fraud and scams is available on the website.

Don't be a "money mule"

  • Be careful of letting anyone you don’t know deposit money into your bank account

  • Receiving money into your bank account to then transfer into another bank account is classed as “Money Laundering” and is illegal

  • Remember if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is

If you feel you have been scammed or are being asked to do something that isn't quite right, then act. You can contact us via our Report and Support service or speak to our friendly and helpful Campus Police Liaison Officer.

Keeping your identity safe

Your identity and personal information are valuable. If criminals find out your personal details, they can use them to open bank accounts and get credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents such as passports and driving licenses in your name. 

The BBC Watchdog and Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee have information and advice on how to protect yourself, what to do if it happens to you, and where to get further help.

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