What are student overdrafts?

Overdrafts are current account features that allow you to spend more money than you actually have. It’s a type of borrowing that’s usually capped at a certain limit and can come with interest charges on top.

Student overdrafts are the same, only usually interest-free. While this can be useful when you’re short on cash for accommodation or supplies, a student overdraft is still a form of debt that you’ll need to repay.

Can you extend your student overdraft?

Maximum student overdraft limits vary between banks and sometimes between years of study.

If you hit your limit and still need extra funds, you might be able to increase your student overdraft – but, ultimately, it’s up to your bank. They could look at factors like how quickly you’ve gone through your funds and where you’ve been spending.

This process can be slower than you’d like when you need money in a hurry. If you do get an extension, just remember that this is extra money to repay – and it won’t be interest-free when you finish your studies.

How many student overdrafts can you have?

Most banks don’t let you have multiple student overdrafts or multiple student bank accounts. If you can open another, the extra money might seem helpful at first – but it will increase the admin of managing them, as well as your risk of getting stuck with debt.

If you’re worried and in need of student overdraft advice, try visiting MoneyHelper or reading our own Student Money Advice. Your university might also be able to help

Student bank account overdrafts vs short-term loans

If you need a little extra cash to tide you over until your student finance comes in again, a Smart-Pig short-term student loan is one alternative worth checking out.

You can apply to borrow from £50 to £350 online to cover costs like student accommodation deposits and course equipment, then receive it minutes later if we say yes. You’ll repay it when your next student finance payment lands and won’t get hit with fees if there’s a delay in getting the payment. Alternatively, you can repay early which could save on interest – which is always capped at 50% of your loan.

Compare student overdrafts to short-term loans below.


Sometimes in an emergency you need extra money there and then, but a student overdraft extension can take a long time to organise. A Smart-Pig loan could be in your bank within minutes. it’s easy to apply online, too – no waiting around for appointments.


Depending on what type of account you may have, using your overdraft could cost you. Student overdrafts are free in the UK - but they aren’t free forever.

You’ll start paying student overdraft charges if you go over the free overdraft limit or when it changes into a standard account after your studies finish. Some loans come with fees like this too, of course – but we don’t charge them.


Your student overdraft limit will be decided by your bank, as will any offer of an extension. If we’re confident that borrowing is right for you, even if you have bad credit, a short-term loan could help out until your next student finance payment comes in.

How our student overdraft alternatives work

Our loans are designed for students, by students. The first thing to check is whether you meet our application criteria:

  • You study at a UK college or university and get government help in the form of a Student Loan, NHS Bursary or SAAS Award.
  • You’re at least 18 years of age.
  • You’re a UK resident.
  • You have a valid UK bank account and debit card.
  • You aren’t in an insolvency agreement (such as bankruptcy or an IVA).

Sound like you? Then here’s how everything works.

1. Apply for a loan online

    Use the calculator on our homepage to choose how much you want to borrow and when you’ll repay it. If that’s when your next student finance payment comes in, use the date on your statement or, if you can’t find it, put in the first day of next term. You can also put an earlier date if you’re confident you’ll be ready to repay by then.

    You’ll need the following to create an account with us:

    • A valid email address.
    • Your bank and debit card details.
    • A working mobile phone.

    We’ll ask you to agree to a credit check and give us some student finance details too. Find out how to get them with our handy guides:

    2. Checks and double-checks

    We’ll review everything you’ve sent us, including a check on your credit report. As a responsible lender, we do this to help us offer loans that students can afford. If we need to double-check anything, we’ll let you know by phone or email.

    3. Receive your loan

      If we say yes, the money could be in your account that same day. Most students receive their loans in minutes!

      Why choose Smart-Pig as a student overdraft alternative?

      From living costs to course materials and emergencies, there are lots of reasons why you might want to push the limits of your student overdraft. Here are seven reasons to feel good about getting a Smart-Pig short-term loan instead:

      • Designed by students: We set up Smart-Pig after having a hard time with lenders at university. Now the only online short-term loans company for students in the UK, we do things differently.
      • Rated by students: Don’t just take our word for it – thousands of students like you have rated us “Excellent” on the independent review platform Trustpilot.
      • Clear costs: No hidden fees, no late payment penalties. You’ll know your loan costs exactly before going ahead, so everything’s easier to budget for.
      • Quick and easy: Apply online in minutes and get paid instantly if you’re approved. Unlike overdraft extensions, you won’t be waiting weeks for a decision.
      • Capped interest: We cap interest at 50% of your loan amount – so if you need to borrow £150, the most you’ll ever repay is £225. Our Guide to APR explains why you might see different rates around our site.
      • Grace period: If your student finance is late, no worries. You won’t pay interest for 10 days after your agreed repayment date.

      Plenty of flexibility: You could move your repayment date or get a top-up at any time you need to. You could even repay early to save on interest. See how it works

      Apply for a student bank account overdraft alternative today

      Getting a small, short-term loan could be a quicker and easier option than extending your student overdraft or scraping by until student finance comes in.

      Got a question about our loans? Give our friendly customer service team a call on 0203 5071 930 between 9am-8pm Monday-Friday or 10am-6pm Saturday-Sunday. Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form or email [email protected] (with an email subject filled in).

      Once you’re happy that a loan is the right option for you and that you meet our criteria, apply online for the extra cash you need.