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Graduates: Five tips to choose the best graduate bank account

We know that sifting through different graduate bank account offers isn’t very exciting, so we’ve pulled out five tips to help you get everything sorted as quickly as possible

If you have a student bank account, it will automatically convert to a graduate one. But it’s really worth taking the time to reassess whether you’re still getting the best deal for you, and to switch if not.
  • Graduate bank accounts: this Which? Money article reveals customer scores for different banks, and an at-a-glance view of different overdraft offerings.

1. Look for the longest 0% interest overdraft

If you’re deep in your student overdraft, it’s worth finding a graduate bank account that gives you a decent amount of time to pay it off, before you have to start paying interest on it.

As you can see from the table below, there’s a big difference between graduate bank accounts when it comes to 0% interest overdraft limits...

You might be wondering why some providers have n/a in the third year… that’s because their graduate accounts only last for two years. After that point, your overdraft is no longer interest-free - so you’ll need to make sure you’ve paid it off to avoid paying hefty interest.

Planning will be key to avoid this. Make your best efforts to turn your bank balance green a few months before the interest-free overdraft ends, just for a bit of safety.

It’s worth noting that you might not receive the full interest-free overdraft amount in the first place - the figures in the table are “up to” overdraft amounts. This leads on to…

2. Check your credit rating

Banks will look at your credit rating to work out how much of the 0% overdraft you should get. It’s definitely worth checking your credit score before applying for a graduate bank account, to try to avoid any nasty shocks further down the line…

If you’ve never borrowed money, you might think that your credit score will be perfect. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true, because lenders often want to see proof that you’ve made repayments in the past.

3. Remember that you don’t need to be a new graduate

You can still get yourself onto some graduate bank accounts up to three years after graduation. So if you graduated in 2017 or 2016 and a graduate offering is better than the bank account you currently have, think about making the switch!

4. Be wary of graduate loans

A few banks offer graduate loans for five or more years, exclusively for existing current or graduate account customers.

This means you could quickly get your hands on a vast sum. For example, HSBC offers graduate loans from £1,000 to £25,000. However, you will pay interest on these loans: to use the same example, you’d repay the HSBC loan at an interest rate of 3.3% APR (correct as of August 2018).
  • What is APR? Our money expert friends explain everything you need to know.

Bear in mind that you may be expected to start paying this loan back almost immediately, which might not be feasible if you’re not currently working, or if you’re not on a big salary.

For more info, take a look at the Which? Money graduate bank accounts guide.

5. Consider a non-graduate account…

If your balance is in the green, and you’re pretty sure it’s going to stay that way, consider switching to an account with a good interest rate on a positive balance - or one that gives you cashback. This essentially means dismissing a graduate account, and focusing your eye on standard current ones.

There’s a whole range of guides on Which? Money to help you pick the best. For example:

Other money-saving tips for graduates

Of course, it’s not just your bank account you need to think about. There are many things you can do to find cheap deals and make your budget stretch as far as possible, so you have more money to spend on fun stuff as well as save.

Here are some Which? Money guides to get you started:

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