How to Open an International Bank Account Before Studying Abroad

4 minutes read

After a brief dent in 2020, the trend of students travelling overseas for higher education is back in full gusto. The total number of Indian students overseas rose from 66,000 in 2000 to over 301,000 in 2016, a 22% CAGR during the said period. After a 55% drop in 2020, over 71k students travelled abroad for education during the first two months this year [1].

Almost 94% of Indian students are more eager to study overseas as compared to last year. The easing of higher education and immigration policies in countries like the US and the UK, access to early vaccinations, healthcare, and general infrastructure are some of the reasons behind this boost in interest.

The duration of your education can be anywhere between one to four years or even longer. Hence, it becomes imperative to open a bank account in the foreign country. The account helps you pay for your day-to-day expenses and make other transactions like payment of fees, rent, etc., more manageable.

Advantages of an International Bank Account for Students

  • Saving for Education: With a foreign bank account, you can start saving for foreign education in foreign currency. This removes INR depreciation risk from your future. For example, in the last year, GBP has appreciated almost 10% against INR. If you had saved £100,000 equivalent for your tuition fee in Indian Rupees, it is worth only £90,000 now.
  • Payment of Fees and Deposits: After you accept the university offer, you will have numerous expenses like paying the tuition fees, deposit for dormitory or rental house, etc. Paying the expenses is far cheaper to do from a foreign account than it is from an Indian bank account.
  • An account before relocation: Your foreign bank account will be ready before you travel – one less hassle in an unknown country. You can receive money from your family or bank in this account and use it for living expenses.

With traditional banks, however, you will have to wait to arrive in your host country before you can manage to open an account. We will see how you can avoid that later in this article.

Opening A Bank Account in the US

Most Indian students prefer the United States for further studies. There are several kinds of student accounts that you can open. Services fees are charged every month and range between $6 – $50, depending on the bank and the type of account. 

Documents Required to Open a Bank Account in the US:

  • Passport
  • Student Visa as well as your I-94 card and I-20 form
  • Debit or Credit card from your own country
  • Credit history report (if available)
  • A utility bill (not mobile phone) dated less than three months from today
  • Any government-issued document including your address as well as your last three bank statements
  • The amount of money you wish to deposit in your new account.

Opening A Student Bank Account in the UK:

Most banks in the UK target students hoping that once you graduate and begin to earn, you will stick with them. If you intend to study in the UK for more than a few months, opening a bank account is a good idea.

However, if you are an international student, you are generally not eligible for local student account facilities like an overdraft. An overdraft means a facility where a bank lets you spend more money than you have, of course, up to a certain limit. 

One can open a basic bank account that allows you to deposit and withdraw money which you can use for day-to-day expenses. A basic bank account will not enable facilities like overdraft, checkbook, or credit card. You may get a debit card, depending on the account.

An international student bank account is specifically aimed at students coming to the UK for studies. While this will allow more flexibility than a basic account, there will be conditions like a monthly account fee or a minimum balance requirement.

Opening an account in the UK will generally take two weeks. So, the earlier you begin, the better. You don’t need to wait until your term begins. You can apply for an account as soon as you receive your UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) confirmation letter. Some major banks in the UK include Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, RBS, and Natwest.

Documents Required to Open a Bank Account in the UK

Here are some general requirements:

  • Identification like a passport, including your visa or ID card
  • Proof that you are a student (which can be your university offer letter)
  • You will have to arrange for a place to stay before setting up a bank account

Opening an International Student Account In an EU Country

Most universities in the European Union have tie-ups with local banks to open bank accounts for their international students. In case your university has no such facility, you can opt for any local bank. 

Documents to open a bank account in the EU

  • Passport with a student visa
  • Letter of confirmation of your admission from the university
  • Local documents that act as your identity and address proof in an EU country. For example, rent agreement, utility bills, or personal social security number.
  • Identity and address proof from your home country

The documentation may vary from bank to bank and from one EU country to another.

Winvesta Multi-Currency Account

An easier way to navigate all these hassles is to open a Multi-Currency Account with Winvesta. The multi-currency account enables you to transact in over 30 currencies, including the US Dollar, the British Pound, and the Euro. The built-in currency conversion feature allows you to exchange money whenever required, and you can smoothly withdraw funds to India at competitive exchange rates.

Each user gets unique account details for each currency, including UK Sort Code, Account number, SWIFT code, etc. One can receive foreign currency in these accounts and send money to over 180 countries.

With Winvesta, students can open foreign accounts in minutes using PAN and Aadhar card and start with as little as $50 or 35 pounds. Money from India gets credited within a few hours to 2 business days, making it fast and convenient.

Learn more about Winvesta’s Multi-Currency Accounts here.

Preparing for Foreign Eduation?

Get a Winvesta Multi-Currency Account without a visa or SSN.

Swastik Nigam

Contributed by Swastik Nigam

Swastik is the Founder & CEO of Winvesta. Before Winvesta, Swastik was a Director at Deutsche Bank where he ran a multi-billion EUR global trading book on multi-asset products.

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