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The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

Useful English language for banking for international students

We help you better understand the vocabulary you’ll come across when opening and using a bank account as a new international student.

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In our English for different situations series, we explore the different types of English terms and language that you will come across during your experience studying abroad. In this article, we take you through the English terms you'll see and hear when banking abroad. We'll help you understand what all the language used means. We’ve got words, expressions, and their definitions to help you navigate the world of student finances and bank accounts. 


Useful vocabulary 


When you study abroad, you have a checklist of things that you must do when you first arrive. One of the most important things you have to do is open a bank account. You will need one to receive money, plus to find accommodation, buy a mobile phone and pay for bills.  


Each country and bank will have its requirements, but you will usually need your passport, study visa, proof of address and a letter from your university/college confirming that you’re a student with them.   


To help you understand the language that you will come across when choosing a bank and opening an account, here’s some vocabulary you will come across: 


Word / expression 



Other expressions



(Automated Teller Machine) 


A machine outside a bank, shop, etc. You put your bank card in the ATM to get money from your bank account. 



A local office of your bank.  

bank charges 


An amount of money paid by a customer to a bank for its services.  



Money in coins or notes. 


Check (US) 

A printed form you write on, and sign used for paying for things instead of using cash or card.  


Checkbook (US)  

A book of printed cheques/checks. 



Money that you have in your bank account. If there is money in your account, you are in credit.  

credit card 


A bank card that you can use to buy things and pay for later.  



The system of money that a country uses.  

currency conversion fee 

Foreign currency conversion fee 

Foreign currency exchange fee.  

The cost for exchanging the currency of one country to the currency of another country. You may be charged this fee by your bank if you use your credit or debit card to pay for shopping in a different country to your own, or if you use and ATM in a different country.  

currency exchange 

Bureau de change  

Foreign exchange  

A company that can legally exchange one country’s currency into currency from another country.  

current account 

Checking account (US) 

Chequing account (Canadian English) 

A type of bank account that you can take money out at any time, and which gives you a bank card and maybe a chequebook too.  



Money taken from a bank account. The opposite of credit.  

debit card 


A bank card that you can use to pay for things. The money is taken directly out of your bank account.  

direct debit 


An arrangement with a bank that allows a different person/company to transfer money out of your account on an agreed date. Direct debits are mostly used to pay bills such as electricity and phone bills. 

exchange rate 


This is the price that you can convert the currency of one country into the currency of another country.  



The extra money you must pay back when you borrow money or the extra money you earn when you invest money.  

interest rate 


The percent that you are charged when you borrow money. Or the percent that a bank pays you when you keep money in a savings account.  

loan (noun) 


Money that a bank lends someone.  

multicurrency account 

Foreign currency account 

An account that allows you to have, send and receive money in more than one currency.  



This allows you to spend more money than you have in your current account for a limited time. It is like a loan and must be paid back. You may be charged a high level of interest.  

savings account 

deposit account  

An account which allows you to save money and pays you interest.  

standing order 


This is a regular payment taken from your current account and made on the same day and for the same amount. This can be used to pay rent for accommodation for example.  



To take money out of a bank account.  


The vocabulary above is quite general and similar expressions are used in Australia, the US, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, and the UK, so this list should come in handy no matter who you choose to bank with. 


We hope you’ve found this article in our useful English expressions for different situations series helpful.  Don’t miss out on reading more in the series including, English language for socialising and English language for finding accommodation.  

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