HSBC student account review: Get £100 +£25 cashback

HSBC’s student account can get you £100 in cash and a year of Headspace

You’ve got yourself a set of A-Level results and an offer at university – what’s next? It’s time to think about a student bank account. HSBC’s account can get you an interest-free overdraft of up to £3,000 and £100 in cash. Plus, for those stressful times ahead, you get a free Headspace subscription.

Here’s everything you need to know about the HSBC Student Bank Account.

What is the HSBC Student Account?

The HSBC Student Account is a current account for students – that is, those studying full-time at a UK university or college. As with other student accounts, you get access to an interest-free overdraft. HSBC has also jumped on the bandwagon, offering a freebie to students. This is £100 in cash and a free annual Headspace subscription. 

The HSBC Student Account offers an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,000 in your first year, potentially increasing by £1,000 per year until your third year. More on this later.

Features of the account

With the HSBC Student Account you can manage your account online, in a branch and on its app. Its mobile app lets you view your balance, make payments, manage your overdraft and set a budget. You can get notifications when you spend, insight into where your money’s going and set targets.  

You can use the card with contactless, as well as set up Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

You’ll also get access to the HSBC Regular Saver, which is decent but can be beaten by other banks

HSBC Student Account welcome offer

HSBC Student Account: £100 cash + £20 cashback

HSBC is giving away £100 in cash and a free one-year subscription to Headspace when you open an HSBC Student Account, plus you can get an extra £20 or £25 cashback if you sign up through a cashback site, detailed below.

How to get the HSBC £100 cashback

To get the £100 in cash you be (or going into) in your first year of university need to open or upgrade your account to a HSBC Student Bank Account and make at least 5 qualifying transactions using your HSBC debit card within 30 days of opening the account. We’ll explain later what a qualifying transaction is. 

When will I get the £100?

You’ll get the £100 into your account within 30 days of meeting all the eligibility criteria, plus you’ll get your voucher for your 1-year Headspace subscription within 45 days and you’ll need to have redeemed it by 31 March 2024.

What is Headspace?

Headspace is a mindfulness app that has guided daily meditations. It’s designed to be used daily to help reduce stress. In general, Headspace is a great app and it’s a nice little perk, but with the annual plan costing £49.99 per year, remember that this is only a saving if you’d have bought it anyway.

Get up to £25 cashback on top

First-year students can get an extra £25 or £20 cashback when they sign up for an HSBC Student account through a cashback site, meaning you can get £120 or £125 in total. 

The actual amount of cashback changes so it’s best to check each site to see which has the highest rate.

The same requirements apply, so you need to open the account after 3 July 2023 and make 5 debit card transactions within 30 days of your account opening. 

How to get the cashback

You’ll need to click through to HSBC through the cashback site, then complete the application online – it won’t work if you call up or go into a branch. This will work if you upgrade your account too.

If you don’t already have TopCashback or Quidco, you can get up to £17 as a bonus as a new customer, though you won’t be able to stack it with the HSBC deal (you’ll need to buy something else first).

Do you get an overdraft with the HSBC Student Account?

With all student bank accounts, you’d usually expect to get an interest-free overdraft of at least £1,000 in your first year, with the option to increase it as you study.

An overdraft lets you run into a negative balance up to your overdraft limit — a £1,500 limit will allow you to go overdrawn by £1,500, showing as -£1,500 in your account. This isn’t free money, you’ll have to pay it back, and it’s cumulative, so any further increases to your overdraft limit will include the money you already owe. 

HSBC offers an arranged interest-free overdraft of £1,000 in your first year, with the option to increase it by up to £1,000 each year until your third year.  

What overdraft could I get with the HSBC Student Account?

YearOverdraft limit
Year 1Up to £1,000
Year 2Up to £2,000
Year 3 (and later years)Up to £3,000

When you graduate, you’ll be automatically moved to an HSBC Graduate Account. With this account, you’ll get an initial overdraft limit of up to £3,000. This will reduce in later years, giving you time to pay the money back. 

HSBC Graduate Account overdraft limits

You’ll be automatically moved to the graduate account after you graduate. This account still has an interest-free overdraft, but this will gradually reduce over time, which we’ve detailed below. 

Years after graduationOverdraft limit and details
First year after graduationUp to £3,000 limit
Second year after graduation£2,000 at 0% 

Do you need a student overdraft?

You tend to have lots of different streams of income while you’re at university — your student loan, money from your parents, grants and income from any part-time work. 

Alongside this, you may still not have enough to cover your basic living expenses, so an overdraft gives you a little bit of leeway while you wait for your next student loan to drop. 

You’ll still need to be sensible. You shouldn’t spend more than you can afford to pay back. 

How to open an HSBC Student Account

Am I eligible for an HSBC Student Account?

To get the HSBC Student Account you need to:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Live in the UK and have lived in the UK for the past 3 years
  • Have been accepted onto a full-time (or part-time if you’ll be receiving a Disabled Students’ Allowance) course at a UK university or college
  • Not have another student account elsewhere

Unfortunately, international students aren’t eligible for this account but there is a HSBC International Student Bank Account you can apply for. 

How to apply for the HSBC Student Account

Opening a student account with HSBC is really easy. Before you begin, you’ll need to have the following handy:

  • Your address history for the last 3 years
  • Details of your income and how you’ll cover your expenses 
  • Proof of your identity and address
  • Details of your course and where you’re studying
  • Your 16-digit UCAS status code. 

Here’s what you need to do to get an HSBC Student Account:

  1. Go to the HSBC website and select “Apply now” – if you’re already with HSBC, you can apply online and your existing account will be upgraded. 
  2. Confirm on the next screen that you meet all the criteria and that you have everything you’ll need to hand, both listed above.
  3. Fill in the form – you’ll need to answer questions about your course, your income and tax status. This is where you’ll be able to ask for an arranged overdraft and organise a switch.
  4. Submit your application.
  5. Remember to change your bank details on the Student Loans Company website and make 5 transactions using your HSBC Student Account debit card.

Is there a credit check for the HSBC Student Account?

There is a credit check for the HSBC Student Account. This will include a hard credit check when you open the account and anytime you ask for credit, such as when you request an overdraft.

There’s no need to worry about this! If you’ve never borrowed money before, you’ll likely have a very thin credit report, which means that you haven’t borrowed enough money for the credit bureaus to be able to judge you. As long as you don’t have a running history of missed payments on a credit card or loan, you should be okay.

When can you open an HSBC Student Account? 

You can sign up for the HSBC Student Account right away, though if you’re waiting for your results, you may need to wait for them if you don’t have an unconditional offer. 

This offer may be withdrawn, so you’ll want to get in as soon as you can if you’re interested.

Can my student loan be paid into my HSBC Student Account?

Yes. Your student loan can be paid into whatever account you want.  You may have put your old account into your application for your student loan so you’ll need to log into your Student Loan Company (SLC) account and change your bank details. You’ll need your new HSBC sort code and account number to hand.

How much does the HSBC Student Account cost?

As you’d expect, the HSBC Student Account is free. This means that you pay no monthly fee and no overdraft fees.

There are fees to use the account overseas, which we detail below. 

You won’t be charged if you go over your arranged overdraft – though payments will be stopped until you add money to the account.

Can I use my HSBC Student Account overseas?

You will have to pay a 2.75% fee if you withdraw cash abroad, with a minimum fee of £1.75 and a maximum fee of £5. 

If you’re looking for an account that’s fee-free abroad, Nationwide is a good choice, as you can use the debit card abroad and withdraw cash abroad for free. Or you could look at an extra account from a specialist bank and use it just for going abroad.  

What are the pros and cons of an HSBC Student Account?


  • Overdraft of up to £3,000 by your third year
  • £100 in cash when you sign up in your first year
  • Switch to HSBC anytime during your degree


  • Overdraft limit isn’t guaranteed
  • Not for international students
  • Fees to use the account abroad

Is the HSBC Student Account any good?

The HSBC Student account is a really good choice for students, no matter what year you’re in. 

The overdraft isn’t guaranteed, but it can increase year-by-year, which is pretty good. If you want a guaranteed overdraft, the Santander Student Account may be a better option. 

You can get a £1,000 interest-free overdraft with the account in your first year, with the option to increase it by up to £1,000 each year until your third year. This is the same as you’d get with the Nationwide student account and more than you’d get with Santander’s, which caps at £1,500 in your third year.   

Of course, it’s nice to get £100 in cash when you open the account. This can get you your first term’s books and the essentials to get started.

HSBC Student Account 

0% overdraftUp to £1,000 in year 1
Up to £2,000 in year 2
Up to £3,000 in year 3 
EligibilityMust be 18 or over
For uni students only
Not for international students
Savings accountsAccess to the HSBC Regular Saver
Perks£100 cash and a free subscription to Headspace

Are there better student accounts?

The HSBC Student Account is tied with Nationwide on its overdraft offering, with both offering £1,000 in the first year, increasing by £1,000 each year. Both accounts also offer £100 in cash, although HSBC does have the Headspace subscription thrown in, too.

If you want to use your card abroad, the HSBC Student Account isn’t the best choice, you’d be better set with Nationwide. 

The best way to compare student accounts is to look at the size of the overdraft, both in the first year and in later years. In a tie, you can consider a signup bonus or freebie.

If you prefer banking in-branch rather than online or using an app, you could research which banks still have branches in the town or city you’ll be studying in and choose between these. 

You should be able to do most things online nowadays, but could find yourself stumped if you’re given a cheque, for example. 

You can read our round-up guide on student bank accounts, or read individual reviews via the links below. 

HSBC Student Account vs Santander student account 

HSBC Student AccountSantander 1|2|3 Student
ApplyAnytime during studies – although the cash perk is only available to first-year studentsAnytime during studies
0% overdraft years 1-3Up to £1,000 in year 1Up to £2,000 in year 2Up to £3,000 in year 3 Guaranteed £1,500
Overseas use2.75% fee for withdrawals abroad – min £1.75 / max £5. Free withdrawals abroad from Santander cash machines
Perks£100 cash and a 1-year Headspace subscriptionFree 4-year Santander 16-25 railcard

Santander has a lower overdraft overall, but it’s guaranteed as long as you register for online banking and pay in £500 every four months. You can sign up for both Santander and HSBC anytime during your degree, though you’ll need to switch after year 1. Theoretically, you could get the HSBC cashback then switch to Santander and nab yourself a four-year railcard after the first year.


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