On this page, we show you the main things you need to know and do when setting up your bills as a student.

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Where to start

It can be overwhelming when you first start living as a student. You want to have all your bills in order before it gets too late. Follow the step-by-step process below to make sure you stay on top of your bills.

1.  Decide how you’ll pay

There are several options for paying your bills. Obviously, each one comes with its own pros and cons. We would recommend using a bill-splitting service or setting up a direct debit, but it depends on your needs. Below is a quick breakdown of your main choices:

  • Using a bill-splitting service—Bill-splitting services offer convenience—they will take charge of managing your bills and taking payments from you and your housemates. No faff. If you don’t mind paying for this convenience, this is the choice for you.
  • Joint accounts—If you live with one or two people, joint accounts can be a good way to split the bills. Setting up and closing down joint accounts can be complicated, plus there’s always a risk of someone emptying the bank account. Only use this method if you trust your housemates completely.
  • Direct debit—The second-easiest option after using a bill-splitting service. This process doesn’t restrict you to certain suppliers but it does require some set-up. Direct debits usually come from a single account so one person will be solely responsible for the payments. If your housemates don’t pay on time, it will be on you, as the account holder, to cover the shortfall.
  • Apps—While an app won’t actually split the bills for you, it can make the process easier. For example, it can help calculate the amount each housemate needs to pay and you can use it to track who has paid and who hasn’t.

Our guide How to split student bills covers all the major ways you can pay.

For more information on specific ways to pay, you can also visit our guides:

2. Set up individual bills if necessary

If you decide to organise all the bills by yourself, you’ll need to know how to set up each service. This can be complicated as different companies have different processes. Below is a quick step-by-step for each bill.

How to set up your energy bills

  1. Find the meter
  2. Find who your energy supplier is
  3. Give the existing energy supplier your meter readings
  4. Shop around for the best deal

For a full breakdown, check out our guide: How to set up your energy bills

How to set up your water bills

  1. Find your supplier
  2. Contact your supplier and set yourself up as a new customer
  3. Find out if you’re on a metered or standard tariff

Metered—Metered water tariffs are the same as gas or electric. The meter will record the amount of water you’ve used and charge you accordingly.

Standard—With a standard tariff, the government estimates how much water your house will consume and charge based on that estimation. You’ll be charged monthly or quarterly.

For a full explanation, check out our guide: How to set up your water bill

How to set up your TV licence

  1. Visit the TV Licensing website
  2. Choose a way to pay. Your options are:
    1. direct debit
    2. cheque
    3. payment card
    4. PayPoint

That’s it! It’s a fairly simple process. If you want to know more about what TV licences cover and how to pay, visit our guide: How to set up your TV licence

How to set up your broadband bills

  1. Find a broadband package that’s right for you in terms of:
    1. connection speed
    2. data allowance
    3. contract length
    4. special offers
    5. bundles (extras included as part of the package)
  2. Set up a payment plan

For more information, visit our guide: How to set up your broadband bills

Want to ensure that you’ve got everything covered? Use our student bills set-up checklist

3. Understand what your bills mean

When you receive a bill, some of the information can seem a bit confusing. Below is an example of a broadband bill, and what each section means:

  1. Account number: Your personal account number. You’ll need it if you contact the internet service provider.
  2. Invoice date: The date the bill was issued.
  3. Invoice number: A unique number used to identify this bill.
  4. Total charges for this month: The cost of this month’s bills.
  5. Balance from previous bill: The amount due from your previous bill.
  6. Payment received: The amount you paid towards your last bill. If you paid too much or too little, the current bill will reflect this.
  7. Total charges for this month: What you owe for this month (excludes any remaining debt from previous months).
  8. Amount due: The overall amount you need to pay this month.

In our guide What your bills mean: water, energy, TV and internet, we break down every bill you’re likely to receive and what each part of them means.

What bills students are liable for

Students have to pay standard utility bills like energy, water, TV and broadband. Full-time students in the UK don’t pay council tax.

Things get a bit more complicated if you’re a part-time student or live with people who aren’t students. Part-time students and ‘non-students’ need to pay council tax and will receive bills sent to their home.

If you live with people who aren’t students, you’ll need to discuss whether you’ll help pay the council tax. It’s best to have this discussion early, to avoid any anguish later.

If you’re a full-time student in Scotland, you won’t need to pay for water—so long as you live with other full-time students.

Find out more by visiting our guide: Students and household bills: what you need to pay for

How much do student bills cost?

The average yearly cost of all bills for a four-person household is £2,165.76.

This can be broken down into:

Water: £32 per month

Broadband: £38 per month

TV license: £12.54 per month

Energy (gas and electric): £66

Below is a breakdown of average costs of bills, per student, depending on house size.

House size

Price per student (monthly)

1 bedroom

£149.49

2 bedroom

£74.74

3 bedroom

£60.16

4 bedroom

£45.12

5 bedroom

£44

7 bedroom

£40.21

Check out our guide Average costs of student bills to find out more about what you can expect to pay as a student.

How to split the bills

Below is our quick step-by-step guide on how best to split the bills:

1.  Get them sorted as soon as possible

You’ll want to sort out bills as soon as you move in. Utilities such as internet can take a good week to install, if not longer! The last thing you want is to live in a house without any internet for a few weeks.

Use our handy student bills checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to do when setting up your bills.

2.  Find the best deals…but read the small print!

There are lots of amazing discounts and deals aimed at students, but make sure you read the fine print. If the deal you find looks too good to be true, it probably is!

To find out how much you’ll be paying on average, check out our guide Average costs of student bills

3.  Live with people you trust 

Having housemates you can rely on will save you from a lot of arguments and hassle. You want to make sure everyone will pay their share of the bills in full and on time. You don’t want to be chasing people for money—you need to pay the bills together.

4.  Make sure everyone has their name on the bills

If only one person has their name on a bill, by law they are solely responsible for paying it. If everyone’s name is on the bill, they have to share responsibility. This means you’ll be jointly liable for a smaller, equal share of the bill. This is the fairest way to share the bills between housemates.

To see the bills you’ll need to pay, check out our guide Students and household bills: what you need to pay for

5.  Take regular meter readings

Reading the meters regularly makes sure your suppliers are charging you the correct amount for the energy you use. If you don’t provide meter readings, your supplier will charge you based on their estimates. If these estimates prove wrong, you can be lumped with an expensive bill at the end of your tenancy.

To find out more, check out our guide How to find your current energy suppliers and set up your bills

6.  Learn how frequently your bills come through

You’ll need to pay different bills on different days of the month. Make sure you know when bills come through during the month so you can set aside the money for them. You don’t want to end up having no cash to pay for a bill!

7.  Always pay on time

Missing payments can affect your credit rating. It can also mean you’re left with extra charges for late payments. Make sure your housemates know the billing dates and pay on time. If you’ve followed the previous steps, everyone’s name should be on the bills, meaning everyone’s equally responsible.

Related content

Costs of student bills

Setting up your student bills

Methods of paying your student bills

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