Best Bank for College Students

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As college students embark on their journey of higher education, managing finances becomes crucial to their newfound independence. Opening a bank account is often one of the first steps toward financial responsibility.

With many banking options available, it can be overwhelming for students to select the best bank to suit their needs. In this article, we'll review the best banks for college students, examining the exclusive perks, features, and pros and cons of each. Additionally, we'll provide valuable financial literacy tips for students and practical strategies to earn and save money during your college years.

To learn more about the best student credit cards and how to use a credit card, check out more blog posts on our scholarship blog!

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The Top Bank Accounts for College Students

Discover Cashback Debit

The Discover Cashback Debit bank account is a popular student bank account that combines the benefits of a checking account with attractive cashback rewards.

Unlike traditional student bank accounts that often lack rewards, the Discover Cashback Debit Account allows students to earn cashback on certain purchases while enjoying other essential banking features.

Pros of the Discover Cashback Debit Student Bank Accounts:

  1. Cashback Rewards: One of the most significant advantages of the Discover Cashback Debit Bank Account is the opportunity to earn cashback on qualifying purchases. Students can earn a percentage of cashback on debit card purchases, which can add up over time.
  2. No Monthly Fees: Discover Cashback Debit Account has no monthly maintenance fees, relieving college students of a tight budget. This feature allows students to manage their finances without worrying about additional costs.
  3. Free Online Bill Payment: The account offers free online bill payment services, making it easy for students to manage and pay their bills electronically, saving time and potential check-writing fees.
  4. No Minimum Balance Requirement: Discover Cashback Debit Account does not impose any minimum balance requirements, making it a suitable option for college students who may not have large sums to keep in their accounts.
  5. Wide ATM Network: Discover Cashback Debit Account provides access to over 60,000 ATMs nationwide, allowing students to withdraw cash conveniently without incurring additional fees.
  6. Mobile Banking and App: The Discover mobile app offers user-friendly access to account information, transaction history, and cashback rewards tracking. Students can conveniently manage their finances on the go.
  7. 24/7 Customer Service: Discover provides round-the-clock customer service, ensuring that students can seek assistance at any time should they encounter issues or have questions about their accounts.
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Cons of the Discover Cashback Debit Student Bank Accounts:

  1. No Physical Branches: Discover operates primarily as an online bank, which means there are no physical branch locations for in-person banking. Students who prefer face-to-face interactions may find this aspect inconvenient.
  2. Limited Interest on Deposits: Unlike some other bank accounts, the Discover Cashback Debit Account does not offer significant interest rates on deposits. Alternative savings options may be more suitable for students seeking higher interest earnings.
  3. Overdraft Fees: Although Discover offers an optional overdraft protection feature, students should be cautious to avoid overdrawing their accounts, as an overdraft fee can be costly.
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Chime

In recent years, digital banks have revolutionized how people manage their finances. Among these innovative banking solutions is Chime, a bank that has gained significant popularity for its user-friendly approach and fee-free banking services. Opening a student bank account at online banks such as Chime is an excellent option for inexperienced bankers such as college students.

Pros of Chime Student Bank Accounts:

  1. Zero Monthly Service Fees: Unlike many traditional banks, Chime does not charge monthly maintenance fees for its checking accounts, making it an attractive option for college students who are just starting out on their financial journeys.
  2. No Minimum Balance Requirement: Chime allows customers to open a checking account without any minimum requirements. This is particularly appealing to students, who may not have a stable source of income or maybe spending most of their income on college and living expenses.
  3. 2% Interest on Your Deposits Each Year: Chime offers competitive interest rates for deposits into your checking account, helping students grow their money.
  4. Early Direct Deposit: Chime offers early access to direct deposits, which means customers can receive their paycheck up to two days before the official payday. This feature can be beneficial for students who are strapped for cash.
  5. Automatic Savings Features: Chime's Save When You Get Paid feature automatically sets aside a percentage of your direct deposit into your savings account. This "set it and forget it" approach encourages users to save without extra effort and can be a helpful nudge for students budgeting for the first time.
  6. Out-of-Network ATM Fee Reimbursement: While Chime doesn't have its own ATM network, it allows fee-free access to over 38,000 MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs. Additionally, if you're charged an out-of-network ATM fee, Chime will reimburse those charges up to a certain limit.
  7. User-Friendly Mobile App: Chime's mobile app is intuitive and easy to use, making it convenient for customers to manage their accounts, transfer funds, and deposit checks using their smartphones. The usability of their mobile banking is particularly advantageous for busy college students, who may not have time to go to a physical bank.

Cons of Chime Student Bank Accounts:

  1. No Physical Branches: Chime lacks physical banks as an online-only bank, which may be a drawback for customers who prefer face-to-face interactions for complex banking needs or cash deposits.
  2. No Paper Checks: Chime does not offer personal paper checks for its customers. While most transactions can be done electronically through the mobile app, this might be inconvenient for certain situations that require a physical check.
  3. Limited Customer Support Options: While Chime offers customer support through email and its mobile app, the absence of a phone support option may dissatisfy customers who prefer immediate assistance through phone calls.

Chase College Checking Account

Another popular bank account for college students is the Chas College Checking Account, provided by Chase Bank. The Chase College Checking Account is a student bank account specifically designed for college students aged 17-24. It offers a range of features that make banking convenient and accessible.

Pros of Chase College Checking Accounts:

  1. No Monthly Service Fee: Like Chime, the Chase College Checking Account also does not have a monthly service for college students. For college students on a tight budget, avoiding monthly charges can significantly affect their financial management.
  2. Free For College Students: The Chase College Checking Account is entirely free for college students for up to five years while they are in school. This long grace period allows college students to focus on their studies without working on banking costs.
  3. Wide ATM Network: As part of JP Morgan Chase & Co., Chase Bank boasts a vast network of ATMs nationwide, making it easy for college students to access cash without incurring additional fees.
  4. Mobile Banking: The Chase mobile app offers a user-friendly interface where students can manage their accounts, deposit checks, and pay bills on the go. This convenience is particularly useful for students with busy schedules.
  5. Linked to Chase Savings Account: Students can link their Chase College Checking Account to Chase Savings Account, which enables easy transfers between two accounts and supports savings goals.

Cons of Chase College Checking Accounts:

  1. Age Limit: The Chase College Checking Account is exclusively available to college students 17 to 24. Once students surpass the age of 24, they may need to transition to another type of Chase checking account, which may come with different terms and a monthly service fee.
  2. Overdraft Fees: Like many traditional banks, the Chase College Checking Account comes with overdraft fees if the account is overdrawn. Students should be cautious to avoid overdraft fees.
  3. Minimum Balance Requirement: While there is no monthly service fee, students must deposit a minimum amount to open a Chase College Checking Account. This requirement may be a hindrance for students with limited initial funds.
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Bank of America Advantage Checking Account

The Bank of America Advantage Checking Account is another excellent student bank account for students who value convenience, accessibility, and financial education resources.

Pros of Bank of America Advantage Checking Accounts:

  1. Student Banking Options: Bank of America recognizes the specific needs of college students and tailors its Advantage Checking Account accordingly. With features like no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements for students under 24, this account is particularly student-friendly.
  2. Broad ATM Network: Bank of America boasts one of the largest ATM networks in the country. With thousands of ATMs nationwide, students can access cash conveniently without incurring additional fees.
  3. Digital Banking Services: The Bank of America mobile app and online banking platform provide easy access to account information, funds transfer, mobile check deposit, and bill payment. These digital tools are essential for students with busy schedules.
  4. Overdraft Protection Options: Bank of America offers various overdraft protection options for qualifying customers. This feature helps students avoid costly overdraft fees by linking their checking account to another Bank of America account or a credit card.
  5. Financial Education Resources: Bank of America provides financial literacy resources and guidance to its customers, including college students. This educational support helps students develop essential money management skills.
  6. Multiple Account Types: The Advantage Checking Account is part of a broader banking ecosystem at Bank of America. Students can explore other account types, such as savings accounts and credit cards, to meet their specific financial goals.
  7. Discounts and Perks: Bank of America offers various discounts and perks for account holders. These may include reduced fees on select services, discounts on entertainment, travel, and more.

Cons of Bank of America Advantage Checking Accounts:

  1. Age Limit for Fee Waivers: While the Advantage Checking Account benefits college students under 24, the fee waivers for monthly maintenance fees apply only to those within this age group. Once students surpass the age of 24, they may face monthly fees unless they meet specific account requirements.
  2. Out-of-Network ATM Fees: While Bank of America has an extensive ATM network, using out-of-network ATMs may result in additional fees. Students should be mindful of ATM usage to avoid unnecessary charges.
  3. Overdraft Fees: Bank of America charges overdraft fees if an account is overdrawn and overdraft protection isn't in place. While overdraft protection options are available, students should be cautious to avoid overdrawing their accounts.
  4. Minimum Deposit to Open Account: Students are required to deposit a minimum amount to open a Bank of America Advantage Checking Account. This initial deposit may be a consideration for students with limited funds.
  5. Interest Rates on Deposits: The Advantage Checking Account does not offer significant interest rates on deposits. Alternative savings options may be more suitable for students seeking higher interest earnings.
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Capital One MONEY Checking Account

Capital One Bank is a well-establish financial institution known for its diverse banking and financial services. For college students, Capital One MONEY accounts are specifically designed with college students in mind. These accounts aim to provide students with the tools and features necessary to manage their finances efficiently and develop essential skills to manage money.

Pros of Capital One MONEY Student Bank Accounts:

  1. No Monthly Fees: One of the most significant advantages of Capital One MONEY bank accounts is their no monthly service fee. This feature offers financial relief to college students on a tight budget, allowing them to manage their accounts without worrying about additional costs.
  2. Mobile Banking and App: Capital One MONEY accounts come with a user-friendly mobile app that allows students to access account information, deposit checks, transfer funds, and track their spending conveniently from their smartphones. Mobile banking is especially valuable for busy college students.
  3. Budgeting Tools: Capital One MONEY accounts offer budgeting tools that help students set spending targets and track their expenses. This feature fosters responsible spending and financial awareness.
  4. Savings Goals: Students can set savings goals within their MONEY accounts, making it easier to save for specific objectives, such as textbooks, travel, or emergency funds.
  5. Cash Back Rewards: Capital One MONEY accounts provide the opportunity to earn cash back on qualifying purchases. This rewards program can add up over time and incentivize responsible spending.
  6. Wide ATM Network: Capital One MONEY accounts offer access to a vast ATM network, allowing students to withdraw cash conveniently without incurring additional fees.
  7. Overdraft Options: Capital One provides various overdraft options, including the Next Day Grace and Overdraft Line of Credit. These features can help students avoid overdraft fees and manage their accounts responsibly.

Cons of Capital One MONEY Student Bank Accounts:

  1. Limited Physical Branches: Capital One Bank has a more limited physical branch presence than some traditional banks. This aspect may be inconvenient for students who prefer in-person banking and support.
  2. Out-of-Network ATM Fees: While Capital One MONEY accounts offer access to a wide ATM network, using out-of-network ATMs may incur additional fees. Students should be mindful of ATM usage to avoid unnecessary charges.
  3. Limited Interest on Deposits: Capital One MONEY accounts' interest rates may be lower than other savings accounts or investment options. Students seeking higher interest earnings may need to explore alternative savings products.
  4. Overdraft Fees: Despite offering overdraft options, students must be cautious to avoid overdrawing their accounts, as overdraft fees can be costly if overdraft protection is not in place.
banking in college

Frequently Asked Questions about Opening a Student Bank Account

What is the best bank for college students?

The best bank for college students will have no minimum balance requirement, no monthly service fee, and no overdraft fee to help college students who are opening their first bank account be able to manage their financial responsibilities. Oftentimes, having a mobile banking platform is also helpful for college students, who may not have time to go to a physical bank.

Finally, rewards for debit card purchases can also help college students earn cashback on everyday purchases such as groceries, entertainment, and dining.

What is a monthly maintenance fee?

A monthly maintenance fee for a bank account is a charge imposed by the bank for keeping the account open and providing certain services and benefits associated with the account. The fee amount and the services offered can vary depending on the type of account and the financial institution.

What is an overdraft fee?

An overdraft fee is a charge imposed by a bank when a customer's account balance goes below zero, and they continue to make transactions or withdrawals that exceed the available funds. In simpler terms, an overdraft occurs when you spend more money than you have in your bank account.

Now that you understand which bank accounts for college students are the best, you're ready to learn more about financial literacy! Create a free Bold.org profile today to start applying for scholarships to help you save college money.