How to choose the best college checking accounts
If you’re a student headed off to college or a parent whose child will be leaving home for the next chapter in their life, you may be thinking about how to best manage money during the next four or more years. College-bound students have their own set of financial needs, so keep these tips in mind when opening a bank account for college students.
What to consider when opening checking and savings accounts for college students
When it comes to finances, most college students have two things in common—they need easy access to money and need to live within a strict budget. With that in mind, here are four things to consider when opening a bank account for college students:
1. Avoid account fees
Fees can add up quickly for money-strapped college students. The best college checking accounts don’t come with service fees, ATM fees or fees to use an online service.
It’s also important that students understand how to manage their account to avoid overdraft fees. According to recent research, young people tend to pay the most in overdraft fees, and of those who do, the largest percentage overdraft 7 to 12 times a year. Because each overdraft fee averages $30 or more, that can add up quickly!
2. Make sure accounts—and cash—are easily accessible
Look for accounts that offer a wide variety of online options, including mobile payments and remote check deposit. Also, look for convenient ATM access.
3. If you’re considering your school’s financial institution, shop around first
The proximity and convenience of your school’s bank or credit union may be enticing, but it also may not be the best option. Comparison shop to ensure it offers the lowest fees, the best minimum balance and other benefits.
On a related note, many schools issue third-party debit cards for students receiving financial aid. These debit cards may come with high fees or restrictions. Students who receive aid are not required to use these cards and may, instead, have funds deposited into their personal accounts.
4. Consider using prepaid debit or credit cards
To stick within a budget and avoid spending too much, students may want to consider using prepaid cards for everyday purchases and access bank accounts only when needed.
A tip just for parents
If you’re a parent who is concerned that your child may overspend, you may want to set up a joint checking and/or credit card account so that you can view transactions. You can also set up alerts when the account gets below a certain dollar amount or each time a purchase is made. The downfall, of course, is that you will be equally responsible for overdraft and other fees.
How Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union can help
At Greater Alliance, we understand students’ financial needs. We have created checking and savings accounts for college students who are venturing off on their own. “The Edge” Checking Account features:
- No monthly service charges
- Free online, mobile and telephone banking
- Free and unlimited ATM transactions at over 85,000 locations
- A $5 minimum opening balance
- A free VISA® debit card with purchase rewards and free checks upon request
- Direct deposit
We also offer prepaid VISA cards that make it easy to manage money. Cards can be loaded with between $20 and $5,000 and can be set up for direct deposit.
Open an account today
The best time for opening a bank account for college students is now—well before school starts. That way, you’ll have time to set up direct deposit for school aid, so you can access your funds faster. If you’re interested in opening a student checking or savings account, contact us or call (888) 554-2328, ext. 280.
Other GAFCU services for students
At Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union, we can help college students with all their financial needs.
Need a student loan? If federal loans aren’t enough to cover tuition, turn to Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union. We offer student loans and loan refinancing. Apply now!
Are you a first-time car buyer? Our First-Time Auto Buyer Program is for those who are looking to buy their first car but have little or no credit. Check out our low rates.