Santander offers free Railcard for 20-25 year olds

Young people who open a new current account will bag a free four-year Railcard 

Santander is now offering a four-year Railcard to new customers when they open any current account – not just the student account. But is it worth it? Here’s how it works. 

What is the offer?

If you’re between the ages of 20 and 25 you can get a free four-year Santander Railcard if you open a new current account. The eligible accounts are:

You won’t get the Railcard if you’ve already got a Santander current account, and it’s just for personal rather than joint accounts. You also won’t get it if you already have a Railcard from Santander (most likely from an old student account).

However, if you’ve not had one since 9 April or have other products, such as a credit card, you’re eligible for the offer. 

If you’re interested, you best be quick. You’ve got until 30 April to finish the application (though it could be pulled earlier) and, once open, you need to deposit at least £500 into the account by 14 May. 

Santander says it will review which customers have met the criteria from 15 May and you should be sent a redeemable code for your Railcard by 31 July to be used on the railcard website. You’ll need to have access to online or mobile banking to get your code.

There’s no requirement to keep the account once you’ve got the railcard, so feel free to use it to switch elsewhere if you don’t fancy keeping the account.

Is the Railcard worth it?

You can buy a three-year 16-25 Railcard for £70 and the one-year version costs £30 – so £100 in total. However, there are often deals on Railcards so the Santander deal is probably only worth about £70, if you were going to buy one anyway.

The real savings come from the discounted train tickets. You can get a third off train travel across England, Scotland, Wales and the London Underground if you link it to your Oyster. 

Santander claims the average Railcard user saves £182 a year, or £728 over the four years, but you’d have to be getting the train fairly regularly.

I go between London and Brighton a lot and save about £5 each time with my Railcard every time I buy an off-peak day return at the weekend. I’d have to do the journey seven times for the card to be worth it, but I use the train a lot more so it’s a real saving for me. 

If you’re a keen train traveller, we’ve got loads more deals to help you save on your train travel. You can also save more when you pay, depending on which app you book with.

Which account should I open?

Santander Edge

Santander Edge replaced the popular 123 Lite account last year for new customers. You can earn 1% cashback on your debit card when spending at the supermarket or on travel costs including:

  • Fuel 
  • Train and bus tickets 
  • Electric vehicle charging

And another 1% cashback on the below household bills paid by direct debit:

  • Council tax bills
  • Mobile and home phone bills 
  • Broadband and paid-for TV packages
  • Gas and electricity bills
  • Water bills

Both cashback categories are limited to £10 each a month, so you can earn up to £240 a year, though we think you’re better off using a different cashback card for spending. To qualify for this money back, you’ll need to pay £500 a month into your account, and have two active direct debits set up. 

You’ve also got the option to open a linked savings account that pays 7% interest on balances up to £4,000 for 12 months. After a year it drops to 4.5%. It’s a decent rate on a restricted balance but you can see how it compares to the best savings accounts

But all these perks don’t come for free. You’ll be charged £3 a month or £36 a year. However, you can cover this with your cashback if you spend more than £300 a month at the supermarket, on travel and your bills. Here’s our full review.

Santander Edge Up

The Edge Up account replaced the 123 account in June 2023. You can earn the same rate of cashback as the Edge account, but it’s capped at £15 a month for each category rather than £10. It means you can get a maximum of £360 cashback in a year – £120 more than the Edge account. But in reality most people won’t make anywhere near this.

You can also earn 3.5% interest on balances up to £25,000. Again, it all comes at a price and will cost you £5 a month or £60 a year. You’ll also need to pay £1,500 into your account each month to get the cashback and interest, and set up two active direct debits. We’ve got a full review of the Edge Up with more details.

Santander Everyday

And finally, Santander’s Everyday account is your basic current account that’s fee-free. There’s no monthly requirements but it doesn’t pay interest – so there’s definitely better accounts out there. On our sister site Smart Money People, the account scores 3.96 out 5 from 133 customer reviews. 

Which to go for?

If you’re likely to use the Edge account to pay your bills and earn a decent amount of cashback, that could be the account for you. But if you just want the free Railcard, I’d go for the Everyday account.

Is it worth it?

While there are plenty of providers offering perks to students who open up accounts, there aren’t many targeting 20-25 year olds. If you’re in this age group, and use the train a lot, it could be a useful (albeit not particularly high-value) perk. 

There’s no requirement to switch, so you don’t need to give up an existing account, and you only need to pay in £500 once to get the Railcard for four years – which is fairly low-effort. 

However, the different accounts have different requirements, so you’ll need to think carefully about which one suits you best based on your circumstances and outgoings.

What are my other options?

If you’re looking for a new current account, there are plenty of banks offering different rewards, from free cinema tickets to access to exclusive regular savers.

You could also look for bank switching offers. Right now the only switch deal is from First Direct paying £175. There are criteria to fulfil and. Find out more in our best bank switching offers article


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