The 9 Best Banks and Credit Unions for College Students

Posted in Banking • May 2, 2014

best banks for students

As we near summer, approximately 3.3 million high school students are preparing to graduate. Many of these young adults will be heading off to college in the fall, and they, along with current college attendees, are need in need of banking products and services that cater to their newfound financial independence.

Chosen for their low fees, student-friendly products and wide availability, GOBankingRates identified the 9 best banks and credit unions for college students in 2014.

1. Bank of America — Charlotte, NC

Bank of America offers the MyAccess Checking account, an excellent option for college students that provides unlimited teller access, optional overdraft protection and the eligibility for students under age 23 to have the monthly maintenance fee waived while enrolled in high school, college, university or a vocational program.

The account also comes with a MyExpression debit card to show support for a cause, school, organization or team.

Bank of America boasts more than 5,100 branches and 16,200 ATMs in the United States, and is also home to the Keep the Change automated savings program.

2. Citibank — New York, NY

With more than 1,000 U.S. branches and 30,000 ATMs, Citibank is a widely accessible bank that’s perfect for students.

For instance, the Citibank Student Account Package is available nationwide to accredited university students. It requires no monthly service fees, as well as fee-free use of non-Citi ATMs.

Additionally, checking accounts can be enrolled in the Citi ThankYou® Rewards program, which allows account holders to earn points on eligible linked products and services. These points can in turn be redeemed for rewards on everything from gift cards and merchandise to travel and cash back.

3. Navy Federal Credit Union — Vienna, VA

Navy Federal Credit Union is the world’s largest credit union by asset size, with more than 4.6 million members.

Another excellent student checking option, the Campus Checking account offers up to $10 a month in rebates for ATM fees with no minimum balance and no monthly service fee for account holders between the ages of 14 and 21.

Navy Federal’s field of membership includes all Department of Defense and Coast Guard active duty, civilian and contractor personnel and their families, such as children, spouses and siblings.

4. Wells Fargo — San Francisco, CA

Navigating the world of finance as it relates to college students, including financing an education and learning to budget, can be difficult for newly independent young adults. In order to give college students a leg up, Wells Fargo offers an interactive website, designed for college-bound students, which covers these issues and more.

The bank also provides a College Combo, which includes a checking and savings account with no monthly fee when the College Checking and Way2Save Savings accounts are combined. It also offers convenient online and mobile access to accounts, as well as free use of more than 12,000 Wells Fargo ATMs and 6,200 banking locations.

Finally, Wells Fargo is home to the Campus Card program, which the bank describes as a “campus identification card and a debit card all in one.” Students can use this card for services including meal plans and building access, as well as show student IDs, perform ATM withdrawals and make purchases, much like a traditional debit card.

5. U.S. Bank — Minneapolis, MN

U.S. Bank is another major financial institution that caters to the student population with a host of products and services. Most notably, the Student Checking account from U.S. Bank offers no monthly maintenance fee for students enrolled at a high school, university, technical college or trade school, as well as four free non-U.S. Bank ATM transactions per statement period.

U.S. Bank also helps students better afford their college expenses and avoid loan debt with $1,000 scholarships offered through U.S. Bank Scholarship Program, and operates the Student Banking Center, an educational website about college financial needs.

6. PNC Bank — Pittsburgh, PA

PNC Bank is home to Virtual Wallet Student, a combination of products and special tools designed especially to help students save and manage their money.

Monthly fees are waived for Virtual Wallet Student and two non-PNC ATM transaction fees are reimbursed each month. There are no overdraft fees when money is transferred between accounts to cover any shortfalls.

Another tool to help students become better savers, PNC also developed the Savings Engine, a customizable automatic savings plan.

7. Bank X — San Diego, CA

Bank X, a division of BofI Federal Bank, is an online bank that caters to millennials with low-cost products, online- and mobile-friendly services, and simple, straightforward banking accessible from any internet connection, 24/7.

There are no monthly fees associated with Bank X accounts, and it’s free to use any ATM in the nation — any fees incurred are refunded to account holders. The bank also provides free overdraft protection, and a cash-back program with debit card use.

8. Mountain America Credit Union — West Jordan, UT

The MyStyle Checking Account from Mountain America Credit Union offers customizable checking account options, allowing depositors to pick and choose services they want to add (such as mobile deposit, e-statements, etc.) and then earn points that can be exchanged for rewards, like music downloads, cash, one overdraft fee reversal a year, interest, having outside ATM surcharges covered up to $15 a month or free checks.

There is no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirement for this account.

Students don’t need to worry that belonging to a community credit union means account access is limited. In addition to its 76 branches across the Intermountain West, which includes Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, the credit union belongs to a network of 5,000 shared branches and 30,000 ATMs.

Membership with MACU is available to anyone who is an employee or volunteer of a Select Employer Group (SEG) or affiliated association, living with or under the same roof as existing Mountain America members or a resident of Salt Lake County, Duchesne County, Wasatch County or Uintah County.

9. TD Bank — Cherry Hill, NJ

Known as “America’s Most Convenient Bank,” TD Bank has nearly 1,300 locations along the East Coast, with longer hours than any other bank, including weekends at many branches. In fact, the bank only closes seven days a year.

The bank provides students a great checking account option with TD Student Checking, which does not require a minimum daily balance, no minimum initial deposit, offers a discount on the first full order of checks, allows automatic sweep to savings or money market accounts, and includes a TD Bank Visa debit card.

Image: SalFalko

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