Best Student Checking Accounts
Certain student checking accounts protect the college-bound from monthly maintenance fees and over-draft charges when they begin their financial careers.
Bank of America, Citizens Bank, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Wachovia Bank waive the monthly maintenance fees and grant free checking for people who are enrolled in college. These accounts are available for four to five years and banks may request verification that students are still enrolled in a college.
Key Bank, M&T Bank, TD Bank and Provident Bank also offer student accounts for students building their finances.
There are several ways to pick a bank, including proximity to the school, over-draft policies and free checking.The ideal situation is for a student to pick a bank that is close to home and available close to school to avoid fees from other banks during transactions, said Richard Barrington, a columnist for Moneyrates.com, in a phone interview with Money College. Moneyrates.com is a site that helps consumers manage personal finance, savings and investing.
"Your inclination might be to pick a bank at home before the summer's over, but if you're going off to college somewhere you might be paying a buck or two bucks more," he said.
Students should not choose over-draft protection, Barrington said. "That is a very expensive way to borrow money," he said.
Instead, he suggests that if a student over-drafts money then the transaction should be denied.
Many banks have scaled back on offering free checking in general, but free checking is available with student accounts. In addition, monthly maintenance fees are waived.
A monthly maintenance fee requires a certain monthly balance and often students don't have the money to sustain their accounts, Barrington said.
It's very important that students do establish a checking account while enrolled in school, said Mark Kantrowitz, financial aid, planning author and publisher of FinAid and FastWeb scholarship search websites.
"Having a checking account makes it easier to pay bills for incidentals, such as textbooks, personal items, entertainment and so on," Kantrowitz said in an email with Money College. "[A checking account] also helps the student learn how to manage their money, such as balancing a checkbook."
Checking accounts linked to debit cards are important for students who have a tougher time obtaining credit cars with the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which prevents students from getting a credit card until they reach 21-years-old, unless they have an adult age 21 or older cosign the credit card, Kantrowitz said.
Credit unions or joint bank accounts between a student and parent also offers a good way to learn how to manage money.
Students who are heading to college or already working toward a degree can visit MoneyRates.com to find a bank near their school.