If you are getting ready to head off for college, you'll need to find a way to manage your money. Student personal checking accounts are a good option here.
However, not all accounts are the same, and it pays to research options before you choose a bank. What should you look out for?
No Monthly Maintenance Fees
Personal checking accounts often charge maintenance fees. The bank charges you each month for the account.
The good news is that most student accounts waive these fees. This typically happens until you reach a certain age or lose your student status.
While these monthly fees are usually small amounts, you want all the help you can get managing your finances while you study. So, an account that doesn't charge is a good option.
No Minimum Deposit Rules
Some personal checking accounts require you to have a set balance in your account at any given time. If you don't maintain this balance, you might have to pay service fees.
As a student, your finances are likely to fluctuate at various times. You might not be able to hold the base amount in your account all of the time. So, look for accounts that waive this service fee.
Attractive ATM Rules
Most banks won't charge you for withdrawing cash from ATMs if you use their network. However, they often do charge you if you use another bank's machine. If you think you'll use cash regularly, then look for the best option for your needs.
For example, it's often sensible to look for banks that have ATMs on campus. If you live off-campus, then check out if the bank also has ATMs local to your home. If you're studying out of state, think about how you can withdraw cash when you're back home.
While you might find it hard to avoid ATM charges completely, some student accounts help you out by giving you some access to external ATMs. For example, a bank might let you have a set number of free-of-charge transactions from other bank machines each month. This flexibility could be useful.
A Good Online/App Option
It's important to think about mobile banking access and services while you're at college. You might want to pay with your phone, transfer and receive cash, and just generally manage your account online or via an app.
Basic online services only go so far. So, look for banks that have invested in online and mobile services and that offer the features you need.
To find out more about student personal checking accounts, contact a few banks and ask about their accounts.