The basics
Study abroad : Student Finances

5 Reasons to set up your bank account before you leave

Why do we recommend organising your banking before you arrive in a new country to study? Read our five excellent reasons to find out...

Banking for international students

Finances are never a fun topic of discussion. There is just so much to get your head around: the different rates, accounts and banks available, as well as the confusing jargon. Other times, just the prospect of queuing at the bank to be served by a teller is enough for us to consider keeping our money under the mattress instead!


So just imagine how much more difficult it is if you’ve just arrived in a new country to study, without a local bank account set up. In fact, some prefer to organise their banking before they leave to study, which we recommend. Below are a few reasons why you should not wait until you arrive in your study destination, to set up a bank account:



Finding time

Starting a new course is challenging, and requires your full attention to get off to a good start; and as enriching as the experience is, moving to another country to do this brings its own challenges. All institutions will have various orientation activities and events which you ought to attend so you understand how to use campus facilities and more information about your timetable – these are important, so make sure you attend them! Then there are all the social activities which take place at the start of term which are perfect for making those first friends. With all this going, visiting the bank is the last thing you will want to do, and it can quickly fall by the wayside until you’re in an emergency.



Finding a bank

While you’ll be saying goodbye to friends and family, you’ll have a whole summer free before you leave – you might as well use all this time productively. You’ll also be surrounded by those you know, trust and can speak to openly. Parents and guardians will have a lot more experience with banking anyway, and will be aware of your financial situation already. At home, you can browse different accounts with them to find the right one for you, with your parents likely to ask questions you wouldn't think of.



Finding the bank

Actually finding the bank itself (i.e. the physical building) can be an ordeal in itself when in a new location. Organising this prior to leaving can save you hours of walking around a foreign area which you’re not familiar with. You might be surprised at how often people choose their bank purely because it is the closest one to them or the first one they see. While this can be convenient, you may miss out on incentives or benefits for your specific needs if you don’t look closer at policies and terms.



Immediate use

If you need to access or transfer funds immediately and without hassle, it is a lot easier if everything is set up for when you arrive. You may need to access money quickly, such as to buy an essential book in time for your first lecture; or paying for furniture when you move in to your accommodation. You’ll arrive much more relaxed and ready to take on new challenges if you’re not worrying about finances.


Plus if you keep using an existing bank account or card abroad, you risk it being cancelled or stopped if your home bank doesn't know you're leaving the country. Even when you have notified your bank in advance that you will be abroad, there are still cases where they may query an transactions you make overseas and they may put a hold on your card just when you need it.



Lost in translation

Speaking to someone in your own language about banking can be difficult (especially if you’re quite young and relatively new to having your own account); so speaking to someone in a second language about such matters can prove more difficult! There may very well be some differing practices compared to how things are done in your own country (though banking systems are generally universal, so don’t worry too much). After all, financial terminology is not exactly a core aspect of a language syllabus you will have studied and be fluent in (what is Swedish for ‘overdrawn’?). And if you misunderstand an important piece of information, you may lose out financially.


Search for a course

Choose a country
Study level*
About Author

Banking for international students

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.