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As college students, we’re trying to save every penny. Even if you’re not opening a savings account, opening a checking account with the best bank might save you money in the long run.

It could also save you some financial headaches. You could potentially use the account to directly deposit your part-time salary, pay your remaining semester balance, and debit your Netflix subscription, among other wonderful things.

As a college student myself, I know how important finding the best bank is. There are a lot of things to consider when choosing your first bank. Here are some tips that helped me.

Which ones have the most perks? 

Opening a college bank account comes with many perks. Numerous banks offer a free debit card, online access to your account, convenient access to AT, and many more benefits. If you’re looking for FREE money just for signing up, consider: 

  •     Chase College Checking – New student customers are eligible for a $100 Bonus by just opening an account.
  •     SoFi Money – Similar to Chase, SoFi Money offers a $50 Bonus as an incentive for college students who open their first bank account.

Which ones offer rewards or help with student loans/financing, etc.? 

Most bank accounts designed specifically for students, offer some sort of reward or offer loan programs. With that said, the following banks are not your only options, but they are some of the best when it comes to rewards. If you want a full list of options, do a google search.

Discover Cashback Debit Account 

Discover is well-known for its cashback program. How does it work? Basically, if you spend your money at certain stores, you get a percentage of that amount back. Store promotions may change based on the time of the year. 

For instance, right now has a cashback promotion for Walmart, Target, and Amazon. These stores were chosen because people usually buy gifts for their loved ones during this time. Discover also provides Student Loans services, check it out here. 

Bank of America Advantage Banking

Students who open an account with Bank of America can benefit from many rewards. One of them is the chance to get 2% cashback at grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and gas stations. Not only that, but Bank of America doesn’t require a monthly maintenance fee.

Wells Fargo Student Loans

Like Discover, Wells Fargo is among the list of banks that offer loan services to students. The private loan servicer provides discounts to lower interest rates, no origination or early repayment fees, and students are not required to make loan payments while in school.

Essentially, these rewards programs could put cash back in your pocket for you to use for college essentials. 

When deciding what accounts work for me, I always considered all my options and paid particular attention to banks running promotions.

These are the three overall tips I used when deciding which bank best suits my needs.

Searched for banks near my college campus

Your available bank options will depend on where your school is located. If your school is located in Upstate New York, chances are that you will have Chase and TD Bank as some of your options. 

Since some banks are native to locations, I suggest you find accessible banks near you before making a decision. 

Now that you know your options – It’s time to research your bank options. Here’s what I did…

Researched each of my options

    1. Make sure I met eligibility requirements set by each bank
    2. Get familiar with available rewards and benefits

Many – if not all – banks require some sort of eligibility criteria for students or anyone to open an account. Not knowing these requirements could delay you being able to open your first bank account.

Finding the free (fingers crossed) amazing perks each bank offers is easy. Usually, banks will display the benefits associated with opening an account right under the type of account you’re interested in.

Look for freebies:

      Free ATM withdrawals

      Free Debit Cards

      Free Checking Accounts with no minimum deposit

Additional things to keep in mind:

      Overdraft Protection

      Location Availability – Pick a bank that has numerous branches near you

 

Discussed my options with relative and made my final decision

Discussing your options with your relatives might give you some insight into which bank will best suit you based on your situation. Use all of your well-researched knowledge to make your final decision. 

Overall List of Best Banks for College Students Like You

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: N/A

      Branch/ATM availability: As an online bank, you are expected to monitor your account through an electronic device. Thankfully, you get to choose from 43,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide

      Interest Rates: Competitive rates

      Overdraft Policy: $25 without a linked savings account

 

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: N/A

      Branch/ATM availability: You might be surprised to find out that there are thousands of Bank of America ATMs and branches.

      Interest Rates: N/A

      Overdraft Policy: N/A

 

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: $0

      Branch/ATM availability: Although this is an online bank, you have access to services at Capital One Branches. Get ready for exciting news! You also have access to 39,000 fee-free Capital One ATMs as well as out-of-network ATMs

      Interest Rates: Competitive rates

      Overdraft Policy: $35

 

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: $0

      Branch/ATM availability: You can find Chase branches in 23 states! Additionally, you’ll have an extensive list of ATM networks – 16,000 ATMs and about 5,000 branches, to be exact.

      Interest Rates: Doesn’t earn interest

      Overdraft Policy: $34

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: $0

      Branch/ATM availability: As an online bank, Discover partnered with Allpoint ATM network to offer its customer access to 60,000 ATMs

      Interest Rates: N/A

      Overdraft Policy: N/A

 

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: $25

      Branch/ATM availability: You’ll have 9,000 ATMs to choose from.

      Interest Rates: No interest-bearing account

      Overdraft Policy: Overdraft transfer fees waived

 

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: $0

      Branch/ATM availability: You can visit over 1,200 branches along the East Coast and over 1,900 ATMs

      Interest Rates: No competitive rates

      Overdraft Policy: Overdraft transfer fees waived

 

      Monthly Fee: $0

      Minimum Deposit: $25

      Branch/ATM availability: Aside from having access to thousands of ATMs, you’ll 4 no-fee withdrawals from non-U.S. Bank ATMs per month

      Interest Rates: Doesn’t earn interest

      Overdraft Policy: $36

 

Note: This list is not limited. There’s a broad selection of banks that may suit you based on your needs. So, don’t be afraid to conduct further research on options!

This is an exciting decision (regardless of which decision you make). Money will be tight – especially as a college student. Therefore, try to stay away from overdraft fees or any bank that has a lot of unwanted fees. 

Either way, I trust that you’ll make the right decision. Congrats on taking the first step into gaining control of your money!

We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.