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Studying and Living in Finland LUT Alumni Experience by Aisulu Harjula

Financial services for students in Finland

Money matters: What you should know about payment culture and student banking

There are different categories of payments such as everyday financing or pocket money and necessary payments such as accommodation, health care, student union fees and various other services you may use regularly or occasionally. In Finland, payments in time are important and and for that you need to create a bank account because most of the regular domestic payments are accepted electronically. Internet banking in that case is necessary because it may cost up to 7 euros to make a single payment by cash.

However, Paula Salli, the branch manager at the Nordea bank in Lappeenranta, advises,

For those students who come to Finland for a short-term period such as less than six months it’s better to use their home country bank accounts for transactions. Before giving a permission to use our bank services we have to get to know our customer, and usually it takes time.

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It may take a week for a student to open a bank account and more than three months to get a permission of internet banking usage. Whatever weird it sounds, be prepared to pay for the payments you make, at least in the beginning, and always keep in mind that there are always penalties for a delay with any payment.

  keep-calm-and-customer-is-equal     keep-calm-and-check-your-payments

It’s the Finnish legislation that requires banks to check carefully the identities of customers. Thus, you can be requested to give separate information about your income and expenditure as well as “the amount, origin and use of fund credited to an account” according to Nordea’s information materials.

This is our common experience of all international students here, that when we arrived to Finland we had to make a separate appointment to the bank because each customer gets his or her own service time. And it’s necessary to mention that in Finland there is no such customer care service, customers aren’t kings and are treated equally as if they were just partners.

Long-term relationships with a bank

As a foreign student you still can’t use all the benefits of banking services such as online check-ins and identity proofs in various social organizations (for instance, FSHS, Finnish Student Health Care Service, more about health here) as well as purchasing in online shops. In order to use this opportunity, you need to get a permanent address in Finland. But there are some extended services for those students who come to study to Finland for a longer time.

The issue is that if you want to use internet banking codes for accessing to services that are “outside” the internet bank, you need to have a Finnish security number in the bank’s system. In order for adding that information to the bank’s system, we require that the applicant should have Finnish identification card that is provided from police station, says Aki Behm, the service adviser at Nordea in Lappeenranta.

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If a student completes 90 ECTS of studies her, he/she becomes eligible to get a Master card and can get a credit up to 1500 euro

All in all, the student banking service is free of charge during the first two years if students are bank’s check-in customers. Check-in status requires the age between 18-28, an account, a card and internet banking codes. By then these services (a card, an account and the internet banking) are free of charge. Otherwise the services are billed with a normal fee of 2€/month for a Visa Electron card, 2,5€/month for the internet banking codes. The account itself is free of charge. And when students leave Finland, they are obliged to close their bank accounts.

The cover image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About The Author

Researcher at LUT, Master of Economics, LUT & GSOM Saint Petersburg State University. Focus on Strategy, Innovation and Sustainability. Background in natural sciences.

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