Best Student Checking Accounts | The Ascent

What fees do I need to watch out for?

Even with student checking accounts, there can be fees. Before opening a checking account, familiarize yourself with these fees – learning when and why banks charge these fees helps you get the most benefit from your checking account.

  • Monthly Maintenance Fee: This is also known as a service charge. It is a recurring checking account charge that often ranges from $ 5 to $ 15 per month. Many banks waive this fee for student accounts.
  • Overdraft Fee: Students who spend more than they have in their checking account are assessed an overdraft fee, typically $ 35 per incident. Some banks offer overdraft protection. This allows students to link another bank account, a line of credit, or a credit card to their checking account.
  • ATM Fee: Withdrawing money from an out-of-network ATM may cost from $ 2 to $ 5 per withdrawal.
  • Returned Item Fee: Also known as a non-sufficient fund (NSF) fee, this fee is assessed by the bank if a student writes a check and there are insufficient funds in the account to cover it. The check will “bounce,” and be returned to the student.
  • Paper Statement Fee: Some banks charge students for paper statements. Students can waive this fee by opting in for electronic statements.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Students who use their debit card outside of the US for purchases or to withdraw cash will incur additional charges.
  • Account Closure Fee: Some banks charge up to $ 25 dollars for closing an account. Most banks charge early account closure fees if it is closed within 90 to 180 days of opening. This is to prevent students from opening an account to receive perks, then closing them just after.

READ MORE: Checking Account Fees and How to Avoid Them

Can I open a student checking account without a deposit?

While there are many banks that require a deposit to open a student checking account, we have found the best student checking accounts with no required minimum deposit to open them.

Tips on choosing the best student checking account

Finding the best student checking account is important, since many students use a checking account for everyday banking. Here are factors to consider in choosing the best checking account for you.

Fees and minimum requirements

As a student, you may be on a tight budget. It is important to find a bank that charges no or very low fees. Some banks require minimum deposits to qualify for a free account. Students that do not meet the minimum requirements often have to pay monthly service fees.

Digital banking experience

Since online bank accounts only work through a bank’s mobile app or website, look for a student bank account that offers robust, easy-to-use digital tools, and a highly rated mobile app. Check the reviews in your mobile device’s app store.

Customer service

Since online-only banks do not have any branches, if a student has any issues, they can only contact the bank through online chat, email, or phone support. It is important to find a bank that offers easily accessible service. If you still prefer face-to-face customer service, you may want a bank with physical branches.

Nationwide availability (physical locations or mobile access)

Do you prefer an online-only bank or a brick-and-mortar bank? Online banks tend to have lower fees, but physical banks let you speak with a banking professional.

ATM network or generous ATM-fee reimbursement program

Some banks have a limited number of fee-free ATMs and charge a fee when you withdraw cash from an out-of-network ATM. Look for banks with a large number of fee-free ATMs or banks that offer generous ATM fee reimbursements.

Benefits such as high APY, cash-back rewards, or other additional perks

When looking for the best free checking account, consider what additional perks a bank may offer. There are many great free checking accounts available for those looking to open one. Some offer a higher-than-average APY, rewards, and other types of benefits.

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