Tips for starting college

August 23, 2018

The Leaving Cert results are out and thousands of students across the country are preparing to embark on an exciting new journey – college. However, finding accommodation, high rents and college fees can make the transition a daunting experience. We have some tips for you to think about if you’re about to start college.

Avoid rental scams

Many scammers are taking advantage of the difficulty in finding accommodation. Make sure you don’t fall victim to rental scams:

  • Research the property to make sure it’s a genuine listing. You can use Google Maps to verify the property actually exists. All landlords are required to register their tenancies with the Residential Tenancies Board. Check online to see if the previous tenancies for the property have been registered.
  • Meet the landlord face-to-face and only pay your deposit when you have signed a contract and have been given keys that work.
  • Pay by card or direct debit to ensure your money is traceable. Cash payments are risky as you will have no record or trace of your money should something go wrong.
  • Always get a receipt for your deposit and/or first month’s payment.
Choose the right bank account

Our research shows that students are heavily influenced by lower charges and incentives. It’s important that students do their homework and are not swayed by freebies banks may offer – especially during Fresher’s week.

When choosing the most suitable account to meet your needs during college we recommend:

  • Taking time to consider what type of account you’ll need and what access it allows you to credit in case you need help to cover college costs.
  • Generally banks offer students free banking but be aware of additional fees and charges. For example, you may be charged for having an overdraft facility on the account, if you use your account abroad or take money out of a foreign ATM. These may be important if you plan on studying abroad or spending a summer on a J1. These type of charges can add up if you’re outside Europe.
Think before you borrow money

College can be an expensive time – registration fees, books, rent and not to forget food and maybe even a social life. Some students struggle to cover the costs. It’s important to understand the different types of credit you may want to access:

  • Overdraft: only some student accounts offer overdrafts so check if the one you are thinking of opening has this facility and if so, what the limit is and if there are unauthorised overdraft fees.
  • Student credit card: if you plan on using a student credit card first find out:
    • what is the interest rate
    • what is the limit on the card
    • is there an interest-free period and how long is it for
    • is there an introductory rate on new purchases
  • Student loan: when taking out a student loan it is important to know what the interest rate is; how long is the loan for; are there flexible repayment options, for example can you pay the loan off early without paying a penalty.

Use our comparison tools to check out the student current accounts, credit cards and loan options available.

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