If you're like many students, college represents your first experience living independently and managing your finances without the help of mom and dad. Gaining independence and control over your own money for the first time is a big deal, but it can also be a little intimidating.
To set a good foundation for financial success, you'll have to navigate the world of banking and bank accounts and determine how to use your accounts to take the first steps as a financially independent adult.
Checking accounts available to students vary from bank to bank, but some of the benefits may include checks, debit card and access to online and mobile banking. Some banks may impose an age requirement on student bank accounts, so you'll need to find out if you qualify. Also, be sure to ask about monthly fees associated with the checking account. You may be able to avoid or reduce fees by keeping a certain balance in your account, opting to see statements online rather than via mail or having an employer direct deposit your paychecks.
When evaluating different student checking accounts, here are a few things to consider:
You might be surprised at how often you need to access your money, or just have a look at your account, whether it's online, in person, or by phone. Most banks offer a debit card that enables you to securely access your checking account to make purchases in stores or online and to make deposits, transfers or withdrawals at an ATM. When choosing a bank, it's a good idea to find out which has the most branches and ATM locations near your school. It may also be a good idea to choose a bank that has branches in your hometown as well.
It might go without saying, but between classes, projects and social life, college is a busy time. Staying on top of your student banking along with everything else can be tough. A student bank account that you can access using your laptop or cell phone can make things much easier. That way you can check your balance whenever you want, and help protect yourself against extra fees like overdraft charges. When looking into online access, check to see if there's an associated fee and if your bank offers both online and mobile capabilities. Mobile banking services are generally available to you at no cost, but keep in mind that you may incur charges from your mobile service provider depending on your wireless plan. Some banks also allow you to set up alerts that will let you know via email or text when your balance is low, among other things.
Students, like everyone else, need to protect their money and personal information. Having a student bank account that's monitored for unusual transactions can take a lot off your mind, since you know the bank will contact you if something abnormal seems to be happening with your account. When you open a new student banking account, make sure your bank provides liability protection against fraudulent transactions should someone manage to get access to your funds.
It's a great idea for students to build a strong financial foundation by establishing a savings account early on. Savings accounts can be a great cushion in case of emergencies. Many banks enable you to link your checking and savings accounts, making it easy for you to transfer money between the two depending on your needs. If you're a Bank of America customer, the Keep the Change®Footnote1 program is a good way to start saving.
For more financial advice for students, check out the student banking area of our website