Studying in the UK is an exciting opportunity, but we understand managing finances in a foreign country can be daunting.

Understanding the banking system and how to handle money matters is crucial for international students to navigate their academic journey smoothly. Here are some essential tips to help you manage your finances effectively.

International credit cards and accounts

If you are in the UK for less than six months, you will not be able to open a local bank account. We recommend that you research which accounts and cards you can obtain in your country have the lowest charges for use in the UK.

Digital-only banks often offer better rates for currency exchange and lower charges for withdrawing money abroad.

VISA and Mastercard are accepted in almost all shops but be aware that some international banking options such as Union Pay are not accepted in most places in the UK.

Opening a UK bank account

If you will be studying within the UK for at least one year, you may be eligible to open an international student bank account with a bank in the UK. Sometimes basic current accounts with no overdraft facility are the only option for international students.

Most high-street banks will ask for the following documents:

  • Proof of identity: Your passport or national identity card
  • Proof that you are a student at Leeds Trinity: Some banks may accept an Offer Letter, but it is usually best to print a ‘bank letter’ from your E:Vision account. To do this, you will need to be fully registered.
  • Proof of address: Your bank may want records of your address within the UK as well as your home address. Examples of these documents include tenancy contracts or utility bills that include your name.
  • Minimum deposit and fees: Your bank may also require a minimum deposit into your account to open it. In some circumstances, you must also keep a minimum balance in your account.

Which bank do I choose?

There are many banks to choose from, particularly in central Leeds but also in the suburbs of the city including Horsforth. We suggest you research the best option for your own situation. Features such as overdraft offers for graduates and free gifts (such as a student railcard), should all be considered before opening a bank account.

You could also try to find out if your regular bank is also represented in the UK. This would make opening an account even easier.

You can see more information on the top UK banks for international students on the Save the Student website.


We recommend that you bring a small amount of British Pounds (GBP) with you if you are not sure you can use your non-UK-issued debit or credit cards.

The only currency accepted at the shops, retail outlets and restaurants is GBP. Most places accept either card or cash. However, smaller ‘corner shops’ (off-license shops) may have a minimum spend for card use. Please be aware that there is often a charge on your foreign-issued bank card for transactions so these fees can rack up quickly.

Please do not bring large amounts of cash into the UK. Leeds Trinity University cannot accept cash payments for tuition or accommodation fees.

Working during your studies

International students are in many cases able to work while studying their degree. This can be a useful way to supplement your finances as well as gain experience in a UK workplace. You will need to obtain a National Insurance Number (often referred to as an NI number) before you can legally work in the UK.

Before exploring the possibility of work, please read our Visas and Immigration FAQs. These will help you clarify where you can find out your entitlement to work, and, for those who can work, covers the maximum hours and other conditions.

Not all types of work are permitted, and both the university and UK Visas and Immigration will expect the vast majority of your focus to be on the successful completion of your course while you are on a Student Visa. Violating the rules around working during your studies is a serious offence.

For information on how to search for part-time work opportunities and how the university can support you, please contact our Careers+Placements team.

The university runs a paid student ambassador scheme, and we are always pleased to receive interest from eligible international students as this helps the international student voice to be heard.


It is important to plan your budget before you arrive. To help you anticipate your expenses, we've created a list of common living costs so you can be prepared from day one.

Firm applicants who have been given their Leeds Trinity Student ID number can log into Blackbullion and watch the pathway ‘international students’ to learn about the language of UK money, budgeting and additional money tips.

Explore student discounts

Take advantage of student discounts offered by various retailers, restaurants, and transportation services.

TOTUM is the UK's number one student discount card, it also doubles up as a PASS-accredited proof of age ID card.

Students also get a 12-month International Student Identity Card (ISIC) as part of the TOTUM membership.