If you’re a student who is getting ready for your first year of college, this is no doubt a very exciting time for you (it sure was for me) and I know student checking accounts are probably the last thing on your mind, but establishing a banking relationship early can be very valuable later down the line. Of all the financial decisions you need to make over the next few months like how to buy books, pay for tuition, or where the cheapest pizza is the last thing you need is a student checking account that doesn’t work for you.
Here are two online banks that I really like because you can use them at both college and at home (or anywhere you want to travel really).
ING Direct Electric Orange Checking
ING Direct is the standard bearer when it comes to online banking, with an easy to use interface and some of the highest rates on savings, checking and CD accounts. What I like best about ING direct is since it is a nationwide bank, so whether you are at home or away at school you always have access to your account.
Benefits of ING Direct:
- No Minimum Balance
- No ATM Surcharge
- No Overdraft Fees
- No Monthly Fees
- 35,000 Free ATM’s Nationwide
Ally Bank is another fantastic online bank for students that offers online banking with no money needed to open an account, no monthly fees and nationwide access to your money. You can even earn money back when you shop using your Ally Checking debit card.
Benefits of Ally Bank
So if you are wondering what the best banks for students are, we have good news…over the last few years banks have become very aggressive when it comes to recruiting college students and this has led to more competitive rates and benefits for accounts. This helps in making it a lot simpler for the student to find a checking account that best suit them.
Many banks today offer their student checking account holders conveniences such as decent interest rates, free checking, free online checking, and no minimum balances. For many students, it’s a matter of not only the above conveniences, but how convenient that bank is. In other words, how closely are they located to where the student will be living? Just like with the real estate industry, when it comes to the best banks for students it’s all about “location, location, location.”
Student Checking Accounts
The primary advantage of the better student bank accounts is that they are geared towards the needs of the student. This alone eliminates some of the financial stress of college life for most students. Additionally, interest-free overdraft protection has become a major perk with many student accounts. When you are wrapped up in your studies and an overdraft occurs, it will be interest free up to a pre-agreed upon limit. What you need to be aware of is that once you graduate, the interest you didn’t have to pay will now be due and payable.
Can anyone have a student checking account?
Rules will vary from one bank to the next regarding student accounts. It’s just a matter of whether or not you meet their qualifications. In most instances you will qualify for a student account if you are full-time and studying for an associates, bachelor or postgraduate degree.
However, some banks are offering accounts to individuals who are non-degree studying status or other courses of a higher education nature. Regardless, if you have any doubts, you should contact the bank directly to answer any of your questions.
Considerations when opening a student checking account
Choosing the right account for your particular situation may not be an easy task. There are too many choices to filter through so it can get confusing, if not frustrating, during your search. Consider the following questions before you make your final decision about a student account:
- How will your account be used?
- What will happen to your account once you have graduated?
- Is the bank you are considering offering any perks or special conveniences?
- Are there any other services that are available with that student bank account?
- Can you do your banking online as well as in person?
- How close is your bank located to the college or university campus?