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Managing Your Money

 

 

Banks and Checking Accounts

 

Banks and credit unions offer accounts geared toward students — often with simpler terms and easy access. You might consider convenience when choosing a bank.  Technology can help you stay on top of your budget and simplify banking if you can’t easily drive to a branch or if you keep a full schedule — or if you’d rather bank from your couch.  Consider if the bank has,

 

  • Mobile and text banking
  • Easy ways to send money or transfer to friends and family

 

And of course, what their customer service is like.

Choosing checking account can be as difficult as choosing a major, especially if you’ve never had a bank account before. And even if you have, you’re likely to be so bombarded during orientation with promotions and sales pitches that it’s hard to know which option is best for you.

A free student checking account, or one with low fees, provides more financial freedom for students who have to stretch their dollars. Sometimes, though, there are other fees attached:

 

ATM FEES

You want your checking account at a bank with plenty of ATMs conveniently located on campus, because ATM withdrawals at your bank’s machines are usually free. It’s a plus if the bank also reimburses out-of-network ATM fees or has a large ATM network, so you’ll have free access when you go on spring break or head home for the holidays.

 

MAINTENANCE FEES

Some banks or credit unions waive monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements if you enroll in electronic statements, set up a direct deposit, or make a certain amount of debit card purchases each month.

 

FEES FOR PAPER CHECKS

Checks might seem old-fashioned, but your landlord may accept rent payments only that way. If so, a student checking account that offers free or discounted checks would be nice.


HOW DO YOU OPEN A CHECKING ACCOUNT?

Many banks and credit unions offer accounts for students ages 17 to 24; students under 18 may need to open an account with a parent or legal guardian. Requirements vary, but usually accounts can be opened at a branch location, online or by phone with a valid ID, address, Social Security number and proof of student status.