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The Best Bank Accounts For Students

Looking for the best student bank accounts? Discover no-fee and low-fee checking and savings account options for college students, and learn the benefits of opening a student bank account.

The Best Bank Accounts For Students

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Do you have a teenager heading off to college this fall - or just want to instill some saving savvy into your high schooler? Then you're in the right place! Opening a bank account is one of the best ways to teach your kiddo how to manage their money, whether they're looking for somewhere to stash their savings or want to keep their babysitting money safe. 

Fortunately, many banks offer appealing checking and savings accounts for students. If your college freshman needs easy access to their bookstore allowance or your teenager wants to earn interest on their summer job bonus check, here are the best bank accounts for students - and what to think about before choosing one. 

Why do you need a student bank account?

You might not have a consistent income while you're a high school or college student - but if you're looking to keep your summer earnings safe, you should definitely consider opening a student bank account. Compared to 'normal' bank accounts, most student bank accounts offer no-fee (or low-fee) banking, as well as low minimum starting balances... perfect if you're just starting out. It will also be handy to have a bank account set up so that once you've graduated, you'll already have a place to deposit paychecks from your 'real' job! Many bank accounts for students also have special perks, but we'll go over those later. 

Which type of student bank account is right for you?

There are a few different types of bank accounts that can be useful for students. First, you should think about whether you need a checking account or a savings account. If you need regular access to your funds (maybe to buy books or visit the dining hall), a checking account is probably the right move. You'll be able to pay with a debit card linked to your account or withdraw cash from any ATM. You'll also be able to get a checkbook when you open a checking account, which will come in handy if you're renting an apartment off-campus. 

If you want to focus more on long-term saving, consider opening a savings account - either instead of or in addition to your checking account. Savings accounts earn interest on whatever money you deposit, so you're essentially earning 'free' money. (Look for an account with a high interest rate!) A savings account is great for depositing things like birthday money and bonus checks... just sit back and watch your interest grow. 

What should you look for in student bank accounts?

Like we mentioned, many student bank accounts offer low-fee checking. Some banks also entice students with additional perks, while others might hit you with hidden fees. Here are some things (good and bad!) to look out for when you're deciding which bank account is best for you:

  • ATM fees. Avoid ATM fees by banking with a national bank that has its own ATMs and branches all over the country. Or, look for a student bank account offering that waives or reimburses you for non-affiliated ATM fees. 
  • Cash bonuses. Many banks have cash incentives for new clients opening a new account. Take advantage of it if you can, but read the fine print to make sure you meet the requirements. You might need to have a higher opening balance or make consistent deposits to qualify. 
  • Monthly service fees. Look for a bank that waives monthly service fees for your student bank account. Though these fees aren't a lot of money month to month, they can add up!
  • Overdraft protection. If you try to make a purchase but don't have sufficient funds, your account will go into an overdraft. Choose a student bank account that offers overdraft protection to prevent this from happening - and protect you from incurring any additional fees. 

Which banks offer bank accounts for students?

If you (or your parents) already work with a local bank, do some research to see if they offer bank accounts for students, and what kind of perks they offer. And if you go to a local college, this can be a great option since you won't have to worry about non-institution ATM fees. But if you're heading out of town for the semester or across the country for a summer internship, consider opening an account at a bigger bank. Here are some major banks that offer specialized student bank accounts with low or no fees:

  • Chase Bank College Checking
  • PNC Student Virtual Wallet
  • Bank of America Advantage Banking
  • Wells Fargo Student Checking Account
  • Santander Student Value Checking

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What do you need to open a bank account?

Have you decided which student bank account is best for you? If so, it's time to get set up! It's pretty easy to open a new bank account, whether you prefer to do it online or in person. You'll likely need a few specific documents - like a valid ID (most likely a passport, driver's license, or social security card) and proof of college enrollment. 

You might also need a parent or guardian to open the account with you. Parents, if you're planning on depositing funds in your student's account throughout the school year, definitely consider adding your name to the account!

With fall right around the corner, Save has great tips to help you save on all of the back-to-school supplies you need. Whether you need new notebooks or dorm room-friendly snacks, Save makes sticking to your budget and living within your means easy... as it should be.

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