Best Student Checking Accounts Of October 2022
Having a student checking account can help you establish financial independence and build your money management skills while in college. The best of these accounts offer features beneficial to the typical money-strapped and on-the-go college student: low fees and minimal and easy access to cash. Some accounts even pay some interest.
Best student account checking
We compared 29 checking accounts at 24 nationally available banks and credit unions to find some of the best accounts available for students. See below to learn more about why we chose each account, its pros and cons, and to access individual bank reviews. Not all of the 10 accounts featured in this list are student-specific, though they all offer features and fee structures that can benefit students.
What is a Student Checking Account?
A student checking account is exactly what it sounds like: a checking account designed for students. Each bank has its own age limits, so “student” can include high school and college students, all the way to middle school students, including students attending vocational school.
Unlike other youth accounts a parent or adult can open for a minor — the adult often serves as a joint account holder — a student checking account offers a step toward independence, which means more flexibility and privacy for the young person.
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Some of the best student checking accounts have these benefits:
- Sign-up bonus for new members
- There is little or no minimum deposit required to open an account
- No maintenance fee
- ATM fee waived for any transactions outside the bank’s network
- Free fraud protection
- Ability to link to external accounts
- Online and mobile banking features including peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers
What do you need to do to open a student checking account?
To open a student checking account, you’ll need to meet some basic criteria. First, you must be a student and possess a current and valid school identification card. You also need to be within a certain age limit – be sure to check the financial institution’s requirements. Finally, you may need to deposit funds into the account to open it, although that varies among institutions.
How to open a student checking account?
Opening a student checking account is a relatively simple process. In some cases you can open an account online, but many banks require you to visit a brick-and-mortar branch.
- Decide which financial institution works best for you and your needs.
- Apply online or make an appointment with a banker. Making an appointment can help you avoid waiting in line and build a better relationship with your banker.
- Bring your identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and be sure to have your current student ID.
- Bring a minimum amount of cash (or a check written to you) if your bank has a minimum deposit requirement.
- Read and sign any paperwork or agreements issued by the organization. Pay special attention to the fine print.
How to Choose a Student Checking Account
Choosing a student checking account can seem a little overwhelming, especially if it’s your first checking account. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re shopping:
- ATM network. If easy access to cash is important to you, find a bank or credit union with an ATM conveniently located near you or one that reimburses out-of-network ATM fees.
- Fees. Overdraft fees, ATM fees, monthly maintenance fees and other account fees can reduce your account balance. It pays to read the fine print before opening an account. In general, the lower the fees an account has, the easier and less expensive it will be to maintain.
- Minimum. Low minimum deposit and balance requirements make it easy to open and maintain an account. At least find accounts that you think are worth meeting.
- The digital experience. For students on the go, a bank or credit union’s mobile app and website can make or break their banking experience. Before signing up for a checking account, check the organization’s mobile app rating on the App
- Store and Google Play. And make sure that the organization’s website has what you need.
- Customer service. Being able to get in touch with a customer representative when needed is important, whether you bank online or in a branch. Scan TrustPilot and Better Business Bureau ratings before opening an account to see what current customers like and dislike.
- Paper check-writing ability. Because many bank account transactions are conducted online or via mobile, not all checking accounts offer the ability to write paper checks. If you occasionally, or frequently, need or want to write actual checks, consider whether the account offers them.
Keep in mind that your account may be closed or transitioned to a standard checking account once you are no longer a student. Consider banks and credit unions closely to see if you can picture a long-term relationship with them post-graduation.
Finally, but most importantly, be sure to consider your needs as a banking customer. While your needs may be as simple as a college student, consider what you need from a bank account before choosing one. For example, if you visit the ATM frequently, consider any ATM fees that may apply.
A student checking account provides a great way for young adults to gain independence and develop financial savvy. If you’re a student and meet the bank’s requirements, a student account can help you save money on fees and receive benefits that a regular checking account doesn’t include. And you don’t need to leave any other accounts you already have.
To create the list, a Forbes consultant analyzed 29 accounts from 24 financial institutions, including a mix of online banks, brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions, with a focus on college-aged students. We ranked each account on data points in the categories of product offering, fees, APY, minimum requirements, customer experience, digital banking experience, ATM network and availability.
Here is the weighting assigned to each category:
- Monthly Fee: 20%
- ATM Network: 15%
- ATM Fee: 10%
- Customer Experience: 10%
- Digital experience: 10%
- Minimum deposit to open: 10%
- Current Balance Requirement: 10%
- Non-sufficient funds fee: 5%
- Overdraft Fee: 5%
- Availability: 5%
Student checking account options that offer low fees top our list, as do accounts with extensive ATM networks and strong customer and digital experience scores. While not all 10 accounts are student-specific, they offer features and fee structures that can benefit students.