Nationwide student account review: Get £100

Nationwide is offering £100 in cash with its FlexStudent current account

by Zoe Stabler, Senior Writer

Before you start celebrating the end of your A-levels and plan your move into halls, consider getting yourself a student bank account.

Nationwide’s student bank account can nab you £100 in cash when you sign up. Plus, you might be able to get an interest-free overdraft of up to £3,000 by year three.

Here are the details on Nationwide’s FlexStudent current account and how to sign up.

What is the Nationwide student account?

FlexStudent is Nationwide’s student bank account, aimed at giving you a bit of wiggle room in your finances while you’re at uni.

Nationwide is a Building Society rather than a bank. This means that it’s run for the benefit of its members. There aren’t external shareholders looking for piles of profit, making it a more ethical option for customers. 

The student account is a fee-free current account with an interest-free overdraft. You can get up to £1,000 in year 1, £2,000 in the second year and £3,000 in the third year.

Features of the account

Nationwide has a mobile banking app which lets you check your balances, send money and set spending goals. Your debit card can be used with contactless (up to £100 per transaction). It can be set up with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. 

There’s also a £100 welcome offer for new account holders, and you’ll get access to Nationwide savings accounts, such as the Flex Instant Saver. 

You can also get text alerts when you go into your arranged overdraft and when you’re near your limit, to keep you in control of your money.

Nationwide FlexStudent welcome offer

Offer: £100 for opening a Nationwide student account

Nationwide is offering £100 for first-year uni students that sign up for its student account this year.  

How to get the £100

To get the £100, you need to sign up for a FlexStudent account after 1 August 2023 and pay in £500 by 15 December 2023. 

You can’t get it if you had a FlexStudent or FlexGraduate on 31 July 2023 or if you opened a FlexStudent account last year and got the previous cashback offer. 

When will I get the Nationwide £100?

As long as you’re eligible, you’ll get the £100 cash within 14 days of depositing £500 or more into the account. 

Do you get an overdraft with the Nationwide student account?

Student bank accounts typically offer 0% overdrafts. This is where you borrow money on your current account, so it will take your account into a negative balance up to your overdraft limit. 

So if you have a £1,000 limit, you can go overdrawn by up to £1,000. A 0% overdraft is not free money, you’ll need to pay it back. It’s not an opportunity to go on a shopping spree, as tempting as that is. 

Nationwide is offering an arranged overdraft of up to £1,000 in your first year, then this can increase each year. This is cumulative, so if you get the full £2,000 overdraft in year two, that includes the money you’ve already borrowed in year one.

The limit you’ll get each year will depend on several things, including how much you’ll expect to deposit into the account and what year you’re in. 

An increase to your limit doesn’t happen automatically, you have to ask for it.

YearOverdraft limit
First yearUp to £1,000
Second yearUp to £2,000
Third and Fourth years, if applicableUp to £3,000

When you graduate, Nationwide will move you to a FlexGraduate account, which staggers a reduction in your overdraft over time, allowing you time to pay it back. 

FlexGraduate overdraft limits

After you graduate, Nationwide will automatically switch you to its FlexGraduate account, where your overdraft will decrease over time to help you pay it back. 

Here’s how it will decrease after you graduate. In all cases, the change will occur at the end of the year in question:

2-year courses3- or 4-year courses
Year 1 post-graduationYour limit will be reduced to £1,500Your limit will be reduced to £2,500
Year 2 post-graduationYour limit will be reduced to £1,000Your limit will be reduced to £1,750
Year 3 post-graduation (and onwards)You’ll be moved to FlexDirect or a FlexAccountYour limit will be reduced to £1,000
Year 4 post-graduationN/AYou’ll be moved to Flex Direct or a FlexAccount

Do you need a student overdraft?

While at university, you tend to have a bunch of income streams — your student loan, money from your parents, grants and income from part-time work. 

This haphazard way of having money paid into your account can mean that you might find yourself short of cash during your studies while you’re waiting for your loan to drop. Additionally, you may find yourself with more outgoings than income, so you’ll need a way to cover your living costs. 

A student overdraft can be a convenient way to borrow at this time, as long as you’re sensible. You shouldn’t spend more than you can afford to pay back. 

How to open a Nationwide student account

Am I eligible for a Nationwide student account?

To get the Nationwide student account you need to:

  • be 18 or over
  • have been a UK resident for 3 or more years
  • not have another student account or a current account with an arranged overdraft. You might be able to switch to Nationwide if this is the case
  • have been accepted onto a full-time UK UCAS course of at least 2 years with either an unconditional offer or your conditional place confirmed

How to apply for Nationwide FlexStudent

Before you begin, you’ll need to have the following handy:

  • Details of how you’ll cover your expenses 
  • A valid passport or full UK driving licence
  • Details of your course and where you’re studying
  • Your four-digit UCAS status code. If you don’t have this, you’ll need to phone Nationwide or visit a branch. 

Here’s what you need to do to get a Nationwide student account:

  1. Go to the Nationwide website and select “Apply for FlexStudent account
  2. If you have your four-digit UCAS status code, select “Yes”
  3. Select “Start application” and enter your details. You 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 deposit at least £500 before 15 December 2023.

When can you open a Nationwide student account?

You can sign up right now! Applications have been accepted since 1 August. You want to get in before the offer is withdrawn – we don’t know when that’ll be yet

You’ll also need to apply no more than 5 months before or 12 months after your course start date.

Can my student loan be paid into my Nationwide student account?

Yep! You’ll just need to log into your Student Loan Company (SLC) account and change your bank details. You’ll need your new Nationwide sort code and account number to hand.

Your student loan can count towards the £500 per term you need to pay into the account. 

How much does the Nationwide student account cost?

Nationwide’s student account is a fee-free account. You don’t have to pay a fee to use the account or any fees for using the arranged overdraft, as long as you stick within your limits. 

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 Nationwide student account overseas?

You can use your Nationwide student account overseas – you won’t be charged to make a withdrawal or use your debit card in a foreign country. 

Is there a credit check for the Nationwide student account?

There will be a hard credit check when you open the account and anytime you ask for credit, such as when you request an overdraft and any requests to increase your overdraft limit.

This shouldn’t be anything to worry about. 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.

What are the pros and cons of a Nationwide student account?

Pros

  • One of the larger interest-free arranged overdrafts
  • Get £100 cash when you sign up – who doesn’t love a sign-up bonus?

Cons

  • First-year students only – you can’t sign up in later years 
  • You don’t automatically qualify for the highest overdraft – this is dependent on Nationwide’s view of your finances

Is the Nationwide student account any good?

The Nationwide FlexStudent is a great option for new students. You can get a £1,000 interest-free overdraft with the account, with the option to increase it by £1,000 each year until your third year, making it tied with HSBC as the student account with the largest available overdraft.

You don’t get charged fees to use it, as you would with a current account. There are no fees to use your debit card abroad.

The £100 cash bonus can be a good boost to start off the first year, giving you something to spend on course books or pimping up your new room. 

Nationwide FlexStudent

0% overdraftUp to £1,000 in first year, Up to £2,000 in total in second year, Up to £3,000 in total in third year
Savings accountCan access Nationwide savings accounts
EligibilityMust be 18 or over
For first-year uni students only
Can’t have another student account or arranged overdraft elsewhere
Perks£100 cashback

Are there better student accounts?

Nationwide FlexStudent is just one student account of many. A lot of high street banks offer student accounts, each with varying overdrafts and perks available.

You’ll want to compare the overdrafts offered, first and foremost. Don’t get pulled in by vouchers or cash, but you could make that a tie-break. 

If you like to visit your bank in-branch, you may also want to take a look at 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. 

However, our top picks are either the Nationwide FlexDirect or Santander 123 Student account.

Nationwide student account vs Santander student account

Nationwide FlexStudentSantander 1|2|3 Student
ApplyIn first year onlyAnytime during studies
0% overdraftUp to £1,000 in year 1
Up to £2,000 in year 2
Up to £3,000 in year 3
Guaranteed £1,500 in years 1-3
Overseas useCan use debit card abroad for free in store and at cashpointsFree withdrawals from Santander machines abroad
Perks£100 cashFree 4-year Santander 16-25 Railcard

Santander’s overdraft is lower but is guaranteed as long as you register for online banking and pay in £500 every four months. Unlike Nationwide’s student account, you can actually switch to Santander’s anytime in your degree. This means you could get the Nationwide cashback then switch to Santander and nab yourself a four-year railcard.

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