Starting on the road to college?
A good first stop might be your community bank. In the age of electronic banking, most college freshmen have only handled a paper check long enough to photograph it for mobile deposit. That service alone may be one of the best reasons to open a student checking account.
Finding the right student checking account, however, requires a little homework. You’ll want to research different financial institutions to see which banks offer free student checking and which don’t. While you’re comparing various checking accounts, see what other free services you can score. Look for no-cost extras such as free (and secure) mobile deposit, mobile banking, online banking, online billpayer, Visa® Debit Card, bank-by-phone,—or even a free first box of checks.
Another thing you’ll want to consider are the fees associated with your prospective account. Some banks charge a fee just for maintaining a student checking account. Others collect high overdraft fees if you spend beyond your current balance. Even if you’re spared the embarrassment of having your debit card declined, you could end up paying more than the cost of your purchase in overdraft fees. While most checking accounts charge one type of fee or another, learning to keep track of your balance can help you avoid some of them.
Finally, make sure the bank you select has branches and/or participating ATMs near your college campus. Although the majority of your banking can be done by laptop or mobile device, there may be situations when you need cash or face-time with an actual teller. And because some financial institutions now charge a fee to interact with a teller, choose a bank that still offers free personal service.
Once you’ve decided which student checking account best suits your needs, it’s time to open one up. If you do this online or by phone, you may want to have the following handy:
- Current Driver’s License
- Social Security Number
- Proof of Student Status
If you go to the bank in person to open your account, you will definitely want to bring these items. If you’re under the age of 18, you may also need to bring a parent or legal guardian to open an account with you.
College is an exciting time filled with new experiences and challenges. The right student checking account will help you handle whatever the future has in store for you!
What financial advice would you give to a new college freshman? Let us know in the Comments section.