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 Banking. There’s no monthly maintenance fee for anyone 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 in both Spanish and English providing financial guidance, as part of the bank’s Better Money Habits initiative.
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.
Plus, there’s no monthly service charge for the first six years for active students. 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 U.S. Bank does charge $2 per month for paper statements — which you can avoid by opting for electronic statements instead. 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 Bank 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.
As of February 2023, Discover is not currently accepting applications for the Cashback Debit account, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for when it does offer this account to new customers again.
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. MSU 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.
Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of Feb. 2, 2023.
The information related to the Chase College Checking account was collected by GOBankingRates and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this product. Product details may vary. Please see the issuer’s website for current information. GOBankingRates does not receive commission for this product.
*With Chase Overdraft AssistSM, Chase won’t charge an Insufficient Funds Fee if you’re overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the business day OR if you’re overdrawn by more than $50 and you bring your account balance to overdrawn by $50 or less at the end of the next business day (you have until 11 PM ET (8 PM PT) to make a deposit or transfer). Chase Overdraft Assist does not require enrollment and comes with eligible Chase checking accounts.
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