Saving and keeping money organized while attending college is a priority for most modern students. Regular checking accounts charge monthly fees for maintenance and low average minimum daily balances. Students who only work part-time hours or not at all might be unable to pay extra money for banking fees, however.
What is a college checking account and how do I open one today? What are the benefits of having a college checking account? The list of banks, credit unions and other checking account providers is large, but only a few select companies qualify for consideration as the best available today. What factors make a financial institution the most beneficial to students? Read ahead for helpful information on how to find the best college checking accounts and learn how to open one today!
College vs. Regular Checking Accounts
Most U.S. consumers have a basic understanding of the differences between checking and savings accounts. Understanding the differences between regular and college checking accounts requires a bit more research, however. Primary functionality of all checking accounts is the same, but student accounts have more flexibility and benefits.
Regular Checking Accounts
Checking accounts allow account holders to deposit/withdraw money through various methods with certain limitations. Limitations are always specific to the type of accounts issued and the financial institution issuing them. Accountholders are able to deposit money using mobile apps (iOS or Android), internet web browsers (Chrome, Safari, Explorer, Brave, etc.), ATM machines and human bank tellers. Accountholders are also able to withdraw cash via ATM machines and bank tellers. Many stores in the U.S. today also offer cash-back options when making purchases with a debit card attached to a checking account. How do you pay you bills with a checking account? Paper/e-checks, debit cards, wire transfers and automatic recurring payments are all used for bill-paying and purchasing purposes via modern checking accounts today.
College Checking Accounts
Depending on the financial institution, a regular checking account might have fees deducted every month or statement period. Many banks and credit unions recognize the financial position most students are in and therefore waive some, if not all fees. For example, fees are commonly charged for using an ATM machine not owned by your banking institution. These fees are charged twice: Once by your bank/credit union and another by the company that owns the ATM. Monthly maintenance fees are also commonly charged, especially if you keep a low balance in your account.
A college checking account waives these fees and provides additional perks, such as app-based budgeting advice, balance alert notifications and more. College checking accounts, also referred to as student checking accounts, are generally offered to any student able to verify enrollment in a qualified school or university. Some banks/credit unions might set age-based eligibility limitations. For example, a college checking account might not be available to an adult student in his or her mid-forties. Other banks and credit unions might not offer college checking accounts at all. Basic comparison-shopping helps you find the best options available for you today.
College Checking Account - Benefits
Benefits to opening a college checking account extend beyond the waiving of fees. The biggest of these benefits is the option for interest-free overdraft capabilities and protection services. What is an overdraft? Checking account overdrafts happen when you make purchases for more money than you have in your account. Overdraft fees are often high as a means of discouraging consumers from making such mistakes. Certain college checking accounts might not charge overdraft fees. Others provided by an interest-free overdraft institution might offer an annual overdraft limit, which allows purchases up to a specific amount beyond your available funds. Additional benefits to holding a college checking account include:
Student credit card offers.
Purchase price round-ups transferred to a savings account (see Bank of America’s Keep the Change program).
Free student-related gifts & purchase rewards points.
College Checking Account – A Quick Guide to Opening Yours Today
College checking accounts are available through banks and credit unions. Credits unions often have friendlier terms for students, but also have membership/affiliation requirements. Many banks offer specific student-friendly programs as well. A credit union affiliated with your school might offer you the best college checking account options possible, but it is advisable to research all options prior to choosing where to open your account. Further steps needed to open your college checking account include:
Research & choose your account from the list of providers below (or other options).
Ask your provider about documents required to open your account.
Ask about minimum initial deposit amounts to open your account.
Schedule an appointment w/a representative as applicable.
Gather all your required documents as requested.
Be certain to prepare (and bring) cash, a money order or a check in your name for your first deposit.
Ask questions! It is vital to understand all terms prior to signing documents & making a commitment.
Sign the paperwork.
Checks are commonly mailed. Debit cards might also be mailed, although some are issued on-site when you open your account.
Top College Checking Account Providers 2021
One top college checking account provider in 2021 is U.S. Bank, which boasts an impressive list of perks & features for modern students. The popular Capital One Teen Checking Account is designed for high-school students. The TD Bank Convenience Checking account is a general account with everyday features students might find helpful. While not all resources listed below are designed specifically for students, all have similar benefits or perks/rewards applicable to student checking account needs. The top college checking account providers in 2021 are: