Going off to college is exciting but can also be a little frightening — for students and for parents. One thing that can make it a little less scary is knowing that you have the right bank so neither students nor parents are worried about money. Finding the right bank can teach students good financial habits and give parents peace of mind.
Here are the best banks for college students.
Banks With College Student Checking Accounts
Banks know that if they offer college students a good checking account, they could end up with a customer for life. Here are some banks that offer the features college kids are looking for.
Bank of America
Bank of America, Member FDIC, has a checking account for college students called Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking®. There’s no monthly maintenance fee for students under 25, and no overdraft fees — any items presented against insufficient funds are returned, which keeps you from spending more than you have.
It also offers student savings accounts and credit cards, as well as videos providing financial guidance, offered in partnership with Khan Academy.
Chase offers a College Checking account for college students ages 17 to 24. There’s no fee as long as you’re a student — for a maximum of five years. You can also get a Chase Savings account with no monthly service fee when you link it to your checking account for overdraft protection.
When you open a new account and complete 10 qualifying transactions within 60 days, you’ll get a $100 bonus.
Students who bank with PNC Bank can get a Virtual Wallet Student that includes a Spend account — your primary checking account — a Reserve account for short-term planning and a Growth account for longer-term savings goals.
Low Cash Mode lets you know when your balance is getting low and gives you at least 24 hours to bring your balance back to at least zero before charging overdraft fees. If you do have multiple overdraft items, you can choose which ones to return and which ones to pay.
After you’ve had your Virtual Wallet Student account for six years it will convert to a regular Virtual Wallet account.
The U.S. Bank Student Checking allows students at participating schools to link their student ID to their U.S. Bank Student Checking account and pay bills that way. The U.S. Bank campus banking program provides on-campus banking services and financial education for students.
This account has no monthly maintenance fees, although US Bank does charge $2 per month for paper statements. There’s a minimum deposit of $25 to open the account. Transactions at U.S. Bank ATMs are free, and the bank does not charge for the first four transactions per month at non-U.S. Bank ATMs.
U.S. Bank offers no-fee overdraft protection if students choose to link a qualifying U.S. Bank account, though overdraft protection transfer fees may apply. If the account is overdrawn by less than $50 at the end of the day, any overdraft fees are waived. Students can also take advantage of Overdraft Fee Forgiven, which offers waivers on overdraft fees as long as they make enough deposits to cover the overdraft by 11 p.m. EST on the day following the overdraft.
Discover doesn’t offer a student checking account per se, but its regular checking account is a good choice for students.
The thing that makes it stand out is that it offers cash back on debit card purchases. You get 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases per month.
There’s also no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum balance. You won’t get charged for insufficient funds or for a replacement debit card. And you can use that debit card at over 60,000 ATMs across the country without incurring a fee.
College Credit Unions
Many colleges and universities have credit unions on campus, which can be a good choice for students. Credit unions are owned by their members, not shareholders, so their primary objective is to provide good service and good interest rates to members.
To qualify for membership, you usually have to have some affiliation with the school, e.g., you are a student, an employee or live or work in the city where the school is located.
MIT Federal Credit Union
The student checking account at MIT Federal Credit Union has student-friendly features like one free incoming wire transfer each semester and no fees for overdrafts up to $10.
There’s no minimum balance requirement, and you get up to eight free ATM withdrawals — at any ATM — per month. Plus, there’s no charge to replace your debit card up to twice per year.
Michigan State University Federal Credit Union
The Totally Green Checking Account at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement.
The credit union sponsors financial education events on campus and has an informative blog called Financial 4.0 to help students become financially literate. MSUFCU Students who open a new account and use their debit card 10 times in the first 30 days get a $100 bonus.
University of Southern California Credit Union
Students get free withdrawals at any USC Credit Union ATM and two free withdrawals per month at any other ATM, plus no foreign transaction fees on debit card transactions.
There are no monthly service fees, but you will pay a one-time $9 lifetime membership fee.
Information is accurate as of August 9, 2022.
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Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase.