There are a variety of options students can choose from to store their money in college. Most banks and credit unions have accounts tailored specifically for students, as well as other “user-friendly” options that provide basic banking services.
Choosing and then opening an account can seem like a daunting task. Here are the things you should look out for when choosing an account, a list of some good options, and what you actually need once you’ve decided to open one.
Things you should consider when looking for a Bank Account:
Fees Fees Fees:
Fees are the bread and butter of the commercial bank. They can add up to a lot of money over time, so be careful. Every bank and bank account has different policies, these are some you should look out for
- Overdraft fee for spending more money than your account has
- Fees for using external ATMs
- Maintenance fees
- Minimum balance fees
- Account opening and closing fees
- Transfer fees for moving money in and out of the account, usually applied to international transactions so ex-pat students beware!
When it comes down to it, having ATMs and branches close to where you live or work is a big plus. You can safely deposit and withdraw money at no cost, and their easy to get to if you ever have a problem with your account.
Most banks provide a variety of online services on their web pages and through apps. They all pretty much do the same basic things, but there are some specific differences between them. Find out what each bank provides (and how much they charge) to see what’s best for you.
Whether you choose a standard or student account, you should look for a place where you will want to continue being a customer once you graduate. It’s much easier to transition from a student account to a normal one at the same bank than it is to open up a whole new account at another one.
Student Specific Accounts:
Student accounts are tailored for the needs of the high schooler and undergraduate. Low maintenance and transaction fees, no minimum balances, and limited overdraft are all pretty standard. These are attractive offers, but they are not necessarily the best choice. That’s why it’s important to shop around and see what else is out there.
These are some good options to start out:
|Bank Accounts||Highlights|| |
|Chase College Checking||More Info|
|TD Bank Student Checking||More Info|
|BB&T Student Checking||More Info|
|Bank of America Student Checking||More Info|
|U.S. Bank Student Checking Account||More Info|
|Santander Student Value Checking account||More Info|
*On a cautionary note: be watchful of too-good-to-be-true promotions and deals. Predatory and illegitimate financial firms abound, so make sure the place you end up depositing your money in is a recognized and trusted institution.
Things you’ll need to open the account:
1. Government-issued ID.
- Must be your personal government-issued photo ID. Forms issued by your school or someone else will not be accepted.
2. Phone number and email address
3. A physical address in the U.S. (not a P.O. box)
4. Your Social Security Number
- The nine-digit code given to you by the Social Security Administration.
5. Proof of Student status.
- Your student ID or an official letter from the University serve as proof of your status at most banks and credit unions.
- You have to cover the costs associated with opening an account, and most will require a minimum deposit for new customers. Find out how much money you need to open up the bank account you choose.
7. Anything else your specific account needs
- Some banks and credit unions require specific documents for international students or other special cases. Find out if you apply for any of these.
At the end of the day where you choose to open an account, and what account you open, is a pretty important commitment for the next four years of college. It’s worthwhile to take the time and choose the one that’s right for you.
And again, beware of the scams and fake promotions!