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There are so many financial institutions and banking products available to consumers that it can be difficult to know where to begin, especially if you’re a student and you’re relatively new to the world of personal finance.
A student bank account is a term that typically refers to a checking account, although a savings account might fall into this category as well.
Opening up a student bank account should be something every first-year student in college does if they haven’t already while they were in high school.
This article will take a look at some of the best bank accounts for students as well as some important information about opening and managing one.
On this page:
- Best Student Checking Accounts
- Best Student Savings Accounts
- Why Does a Student Need a Bank Account?
- Checking vs. Savings Account
- Common Fees
- How to Open an Account
Best Student Checking Accounts
The following are some of the best student checking accounts. Some of these accounts are general checking accounts that have good features for students, while others are specifically designed for students.
Wells Fargo Everyday Checking
A Wells Fargo Everyday Checking Account is good for not only college students but also anyone who usually has a relatively low account balance. This account features a low monthly service fee, easy access through online and mobile banking, and other features that make it easy to manage for students.
The following are key features of the Wells Fargo Everyday Checking Account:
- The minimum opening deposit is only $25.
- The $10 monthly service fee can be avoided by meeting certain criteria such as having qualifying direct deposits totaling $500 or more each fee period or linking a Wells Fargo Campus ATM or Campus Debit Card to the account.
- Fees on this account can also be avoided if the primary account owner is 17 to 24 years old.
- This account includes capabilities for bill pay and online transfer.
- There are budgeting, cash flow, and spending tools.
Capital One 360 Checking
Capital One 360 is an online bank that offers low-cost account options including the popular 360 Checking Account. This online account doesn’t have any monthly fees, making it a great fit for students.
Other features of the Capital One 360 Checking Account include:
- Along with being fee-free, there are no minimums required to open this account.
- There are more than 39,000 ATMs around the country that can be used with no fees, including both Capital One and Allpoint ATMs.
- There are online and mobile banking options, including mobile deposit and online bill pay.
- This checking account earns interest. On balances up to $49,999.99, there is a 0.20% APY currently.
- There are flexible overdraft options associated with this account, like Auto Decline and a Free Savings Transfer.
Chase College Checking
The Chase College Checking Account is specifically for college students aged 17 to 24. To open this account, the applicant will need to show proof of student status. This account has low fees and flexible features and options that make it a good fit for students.
Some of the features and benefits of the Chase College Checking Account include:
- The $6 monthly service fee can be waived for up to five years while account holders are in college or if a direct deposit is made to the account. The service fee can also be waived for people with an average ending day balance of $5,000 or more in the account.
- There is only a $25 minimum deposit to open the account.
- This account integrates with Zelle so that money can be sent and received quickly.
- The account includes Chase Zero Liability Protection, which means that if the bank is notified quickly, you won’t pay for unauthorized transactions.
- The Chase Mobile app includes a variety of features including the ability to set up customized text alerts if your balance reaches a certain threshold.
US Bank Student Checking
US Bank is one of the largest financial service providers in the country, and they offer the US Bank Student Checking Account, which is promoted as being safe and convenient. The following are some of the features and advantages of using this student checking account from US Bank:
- There are no monthly maintenance fees associated with the Student Checking account from US Bank.
- There are no minimum balance requirements.
- Online banking is included with this account, as is access to free credit scores.
- There are unlimited free transactions from thousands of ATMs in the U.S. and there are no surcharge fees on the transactions at MoneyPass ATMs.
- The minimum opening deposit is only $25.
SunTrust Essential Checking for Students
SunTrust Essential Checking for Students is a straightforward, basic account with the features students need. This account is designed to help college students easily and effectively manage their money and also save on fees at the same time.
The following are key advantages and features of the SunTrust Essential Checking for Students account:
- There are no monthly fees while you’re in school for up to five years.
- The mobile banking offered by SunTrust has robust features and no fees. Mobile banking includes Mobile Deposit and Mobile Bill Pay.
- This account integrates with Zelle, making it fast and easy to send and receive money.
- The account includes a SunTrust Mastercard debit card with zero liability.
- The account can be used with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay for convenient and secure payments.
Best Student Savings Accounts
The following are some excellent student savings account options. While they may not be specifically for students, they have features that would be beneficial to someone in college.
TD Simple Savings
The TD Simple Savings Account is good for younger savers and building your savings if you’re just starting out. Features and benefits of this savings account from TD Bank include:
- There is no minimum deposit to open the account.
- The $5 monthly maintenance fee can be waived if you link a TD Student Checking Account to this savings account for students.
- There are no ATM fees for TD ATMs in the U.S. and Canada.
- This savings account earns interest.
- There are free automatic transfers available with the TD Simple Savings Account.
US Bank Goal Savings Account
The US Bank Goal Savings Account is what US Bank advertises as being their student-centric savings account. This account is a good option even for students who don’t currently have income but who want to develop good financial habits. Features and benefits of this student account for savings include:
- There is no monthly maintenance fee associated with this account.
- There is only a minimum $25 transfer required from a U.S. Bank checking account per statement cycle.
- You can apply for this account online.
- With this unique account, you can set a goal and the timeframe within which you’d like to meet that goal. You can then decide how much you’d like to save toward the goal, and you can set up automatic transfers to reflect your goals.
- It’s easy to link this account with a Student Checking Account from US Bank.
M&T Bank Relationship Savings Account
M&T Bank is a smaller financial institution, and as a result, they often offer more competitive accounts and products than larger banks. One good option for students is called the Relationship Savings account. Features and things to know include:
- The account is compatible with direct deposit as well as something called M&T’s Easy Save. Easy Save allows for automatic transfers between M&T accounts.
- This account can be managed with M&T Online Banking and Mobile Banking.
- This account can be used as a way to provide overdraft protection to a linked M&T checking account.
- If an account holder can meet certain requirements, such as having a personal checking account with M&T, the monthly maintenance charge is waived.
- This account earns a small amount of interest.
Bank of America Rewards Savings Account
The Bank of America Rewards Savings Account is an account that’s simple and is combined with the Bank of America rewards program. The following are some of the notable features and benefits of this savings account that are good for students:
- There are tiered interest rates associated with this account, so as someone’s account balance grows, they’ll be able to earn higher interest rates on what’s in their savings account.
- This account is eligible for the Preferred Rewards program. For the lowest rewards level, which is Gold, there is a 5% interest rate booster on a Rewards Savings Account and other benefits.
- The Bank of America Keep the Change program can be used with this account or a linked savings account.
- BankAmeriDeals is associated with this savings account, so account holders have the opportunity to earn cash back.
- The required opening deposit is only $100.
Ally Online Savings Account
The Ally Online Savings Account is unique from the other accounts on this list because it’s an online-only, high-yield savings account. The following are some features of this innovative account:
- This account earns a competitive APY of 1.90% on all balance tiers—this rate is estimated to be 20 times higher than the national average.
- Interested is compounded daily, helping balances grow faster.
- There are no monthly maintenance fees.
- Checks can be remotely deposited with the Ally eCheck Deposit tool.
- Along with no monthly maintenance fees, most other fees and services are free with this Ally savings account.
Why Does a Student Need a Bank Account?
Choosing whether you’ll open a student checking account, student savings account, or both should be determined by individual needs. If you’re planning to use a debit card as a way to make most of your purchases or pay any bills you may have, you’ll need a student checking account. If you plan to put aside money, especially if you’re going to be working while you’re in school, you may also want to add a savings account.
The following are some specific reasons a student needs a bank account—and in particular, a student checking account:
- If a student’s parents are going to be sending money while they’re away at school, depositing it into a checking account is the easiest way to do that.
- Some students may have bills they need to keep up with while they’re away at school. For example, they might have a cell phone bill or something similar they’re responsible for. They can use a checking account to either pay the bills via check or debit card, or they can have these bills automatically paid out of their checking account.
- Either a savings or checking account can be a way for a student to have emergency funds set aside if something comes up, especially if they’re at school far from home.
- As a young adult on your own, it’s essential that you learn financial literacy and money management skills, and having bank accounts is a critical part of this.
- It’s usually safer to have a debit card rather than carrying around cash. If something happens and cash is stolen, you don’t have much recourse for getting it back. If something happens to your debit card, your bank may offer protection.
- For students who are going to be working while they’re in school, having at least a checking account is important, especially considering most employers use direct deposit.
Checking Accounts vs. Savings Accounts
A checking account allows for deposits to be made and it’s easy to make those deposits and withdrawals. A checking account can be set up by an individual and there are joint accounts as well.
Checking accounts usually have quite a few conveniences associated with their use. For example, you can visit ATMs and make withdrawals from a checking account as often as you want, and overall your money is easily accessible with a checking account. Most student checking accounts don’t accrue interest, however, and even if they do, it’s a minimal amount.
A savings account is an interest-bearing account, so you’re earning on the amount you have deposited. Savings accounts are a long-term place to put money, and there are restrictions on how many withdrawals you can make from a savings account each month. If you do need to make a withdrawal from a savings account, you will often have to go to a bank in person.
Typical Features of a Student Checking Account
Some of the features to look for when choosing a student checking account can include:
- A college student probably isn’t going to have a large amount of money saved up, so it’s important to look for a student checking account with either no or low minimum deposit requirements. Many of the accounts on the above list have either no minimum deposit requirement or it’s around $25.
- No monthly maintenance fees are important, especially since most college students are going to have low balances; they don’t want their savings to be eroded by fees.
- College students are typically comfortable with technology and are also on-the-go, so convenience and mobile banking are important.
- Parents should be able to easily transfer money into a student checking account if necessary.
Common Banking Fees
Since the goal with student banking accounts is usually to minimize or eliminate fees, knowing what the most commonly charged banking fees are can be helpful. Some of the fees most often attached to banking accounts include:
- Monthly maintenance fees, which are often charged on checking and savings accounts.
- Minimum balance charges are typical, which means that if someone’s balance drops below a certain threshold, they’re charged a fee for that.
- Overdraft charges, which occur when someone spends more than what they have in their checking account, can be a big problem for college students who aren’t yet experienced in financial management and budgeting. Some accounts will have special protections if an overdraft occurs, but these protections can be expensive.
- A lot of banks have started charging a fee to continue receiving hard copy statements, but if you receive online statements instead, you can usually eliminate this.
- ATM fees are something to consider when choosing a student banking account if you use an ATM not affiliated with your bank.
Online-Only Banking for Students
In recent years, there has been a significant sense of growth among online-only banks. These banks, which include names like Ally and Synchrony, can be a good option for opening a student bank account. These banks, since they don’t have the overhead costs associated with brick-and-mortar banks, tend to offer very competitive accounts. For example, there are often no fees, and rates are higher on interest-bearing accounts.
Since everything is done online or through a mobile app, there tends to be a focus on offering secure and convenient tools and platforms as well.
How to Open a Checking and Savings Account
Different banks are going to have different requirements for how to open a bank account. With most banks, you can open these accounts online without visiting a branch. You will likely have to provide some basic information such as your Social Security number and maybe a copy of your driver’s license. There aren’t usually credit checks or anything similar required to open a basic student checking or savings account.
Having a student bank account can have both short- and long-term benefits for college students. Not only does it give you a secure place to store your money, dealing with student loans without a bank account can be difficult.
Choosing the right account is important, however. Students should look for accounts that are simple to manage, have low fees, and are convenient.