It is important that you let your bank know that you are going overseas and how long you will be away. For security reasons, some banks will not allow money to be withdrawn using a debit card abroad unless they know in advance that the account holder is travelling.

Internet banking is an easy way to monitor your account from abroad, so it's a good idea to make sure you have this service set up before you go.

Below are some of the issues you may wish to check with your bank before leaving the UK:

  • Is there a branch or affiliated bank in your host country that you can use?
  • How can you get in touch with your bank in case of an emergency whilst abroad?
  • Does your bank recommend a partner to facilitate the transfer of funds from your current account to a new one?
  • Should money be transferred in pounds sterling or is it more financially beneficial to change the money into the appropriate currency before transferring it?
  • How do you replace debit/credit cards?
  • How much does wiring money cost?
  • How much do cash withdrawals cost?

Banking abroad

Bank services and accounts vary across the world, so do try and speak to students who have already studied in your host country to find out about the banking situation and how they set up an account there. If you are not receiving payments in the local currency, you may be best to keep using a UK card that charges low/no withdrawal fees.

Some banks may not offer student accounts, or overdraft facilities.

It is likely that you'll need more than one form of identification to open an account, so think about this before you leave home. It is also advisable to make photocopies of your passport before you leave in case the bank requires this documentation.

It could take you several weeks to open a bank account abroad and receive your card. You should therefore take some cash with you so that you are not frequently withdrawing from your UK card which may charge you.

Travel Money Card Plus

The Travel Money Card Plus is an alternative to a debit card and is available for: Euro, US Dollar, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, New Zealand Dollar, South African Rand the Swiss Franc and Sterling. You can load sterling onto it and then use it in any shops and restaurants that have the master card sign and you can also withdraw money from many cash machines.   

Mobility programme and scholarship payments from St Andrews

The University will usually pay any mobility grant or Study Abroad scholarship money into your UK bank account. It is therefore important that you ensure that you enter your bank details on MySaint before you go, and update them should they change during the year. If you have internet banking, it will be easier to check that you receive your grant/ scholarship.