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Compare student bank accounts
Get fee-free checking and exclusive perks — but watch out for low spending limits.
Every dollar matters when you’re a student, which is why so many banks offer checking accounts with no monthly fees for students. But you’ll want to read the fine print to make sure you wouldn’t be better off with a traditional checking account.
What are the features and benefits of a student bank account?
Benefits will vary from bank to bank, but common things to look for include:
- No monthly fees. One of the biggest benefits of having a student bank account is that you get to avoid monthly fees, so you won’t have money trickling out of your account.
- Student perks. Many banks offer student perks, such as attractive signup bonuses or discounts for related financial products.
- Linked debit card. Most student bank accounts include a free linked Visa or Mastercard debit card.
- Mobile banking. While most banks offer mobile banking, they’re not all equal. Compare the features of each bank’s app before choosing an account. Features to look for include online bill paying, transaction history tracking, money transfer services, customer service and the ability to lock or unlock a debit card.
- Unlimited transactions. How are you supposed to live the student life if you have restrictions on your withdrawals? Most banks will offer unlimited electronic transactions and ATM withdrawals.
- Competitive credit card terms. If you decide to apply for a student credit card, you may be eligible for extra perks if it’s through the same bank as your checking account.
- Lower limits. Student debit cards often come with lower purchase limits. This can help keep you from splurging, but can also be a negative thing if you need to make a big purchase.
Compare student bank accounts
What fees are associated with student bank accounts?
While student accounts rarely have ongoing monthly fees, you may still have to deal with:
- Overdraft charges. If you make a purchase that causes your account to dip below $0, you could be charged a fee. You can set your account to not cover overdrafts to prevent this.
- International transaction fees. If you’re traveling overseas, you might be charged a fee when you make a purchase or use an ATM. These can add up, so check the fees before signing up if you plan to travel.
- ATM fees. This includes fees for using an ATM outside of your bank’s network. Some accounts will occasionally also charge for using in-network ATMs if you make too many withdrawals per month, but that’s more common with savings accounts.
When applying online, you need to be at least 18 years old and a permanent resident of US. You’ll also need to provide a residential address and email address so the bank can send you alerts and maintain contact with you about how your application is progressing.
Most banks allow you to apply online for an account. You’ll need to compare your options, select the account you want, fill out the form with your personal information — including your Social Security number, birthdate and phone number — and check your application before submitting it.
Note that if you want a joint account, or an account that belongs to two people, you may need to apply together.
Once your application has been submitted, you may get access to the account immediately or you may need to provide further identification, including a signature or copy of your ID.
As a student, you will also have to show at least one of the following:
- Your student ID card
- A letter from your school on official letterhead confirming that you’re a full-time student
- A .edu email address
What about student savings accounts?
Student checking accounts generally don’t earn interest. If you want to set some of your money aside, you can open a top-tier student savings account that will earn interest and let you easily transfer funds to and from your everyday checking account.
What is the difference between student saving accounts and regular savings accounts?
Student savings accounts generally waive any ongoing monthly fees and can be linked to your student checking account. But this varies from bank to bank, so you’ll want to check the fine print before signing up.
Being a student means you’re eligible for perks, like discounts on movie tickets, online shopping and bank account fees. But fee-free isn’t the only thing you’ll need to consider before opening an account. Compare checking accounts based on fees, features and accessibility to find one that’s the perfect fit for your lifestyle.
Read up on the best student checking accounts
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