As a student, you’ll want a checking account that allows you to manage your money efficiently without an excess of fees. 

Luckily, there are affordable student checking accounts out there designed just for students. Let’s explore the best student checking accounts.

What is a Student Checking Account?

Before we dive into the details about the best student checking accounts out there, it is important to understand how a student checking account is different. 

Like a traditional checking account, student checking accounts offer a safe place to store and quickly access your money. Many people use checking accounts as their primary means of handling everyday expenses. 

For most students, opening a checking account marks the beginning of their money management journey. With that, a student checking account is designed specifically to accommodate these needs. 

Typically, that means these checking accounts offer no monthly fees and free ATM withdrawals. Plus, some student checking accounts come with free money management tools to help you navigate your personal finances. 

Best Student Checking Accounts

Not all student checking accounts are created equally. Here’s a closer look at the best student checking accounts. 

Chase Bank College Checking Account

The Chase Bank College Checking Account is available for college students between the ages of 17 and 24. You can open an account online or at your local Chase branch. 

Importantly, international students can open this account with their passports. They will also need a Student INS 1-20 form or DS-2019 form, their residential address, proof of their student status, and expected graduation date. 

The Perks

You won’t run into a monthly service fee with this account while in college for up to 5 years.

As you learn to manage your money effectively, this account provides all the tools you need. 
If you are worried about dipping below a certain amount of money, you can set up an alert to let you know. Chase allows you to set up account alerts to inform you via text or email about account activity, low balances, and more. With that information immediately available, you can take action as necessary. 

You'll also have access to the robust Chase Mobile app, which allows you to check in with your balance and deposit checks quickly, and 24-hour customer support. 

The account also offers Zero Liability Protection on unauthorized card transactions that you report quickly. And access to Zelle, which allows you to send money to friends and family in just a few minutes. 

The Fees

While there is no monthly fee, you may come across some other fees while using the Chase Bank College Checking Account. 

A few to be aware of are:

  • $34 overdraft fee

  • Variable fee to order checks

  • $30 stop payment request fee

  • $15 domestic and international incoming wire

  • $2.50 for ATM withdrawals at non-Chase ATM

  • 3% foreign exchange rate adjustment

Although these are not the only fees associated with this account, these are some that you are most likely to encounter. 

Access

With Chase, you can tap into an extensive network of over 4,700 branches to tackle your money tasks in an in-person setting. Plus, you’ll have access to 16,000 ATMs to pull out cash when you need to without an ATM fee.

Pros and Cons of Chase Bank College Checking Account

Here are the pros and cons of the Chase Bank College Checking account. 

Pros

  • No monthly service fee before graduation. You won’t have to pay a monthly service while you are in college. 

  • Access to all the perks Chase as to offer

Cons

  • Monthly service fee kicks in after graduation. If you want to hang on to the account, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. 

  • Overdraft fees. The $34 overdraft fee is something to watch out for. 

Open a Chase Bank College Checking Account

PNC Virtual Wallet Student Account

The Virtual Wallet Student Account offered by PNC Bank provides a robust banking experience. You will gain access to three different bank accounts which include a checking account, a reserve account, and a long-term savings account.

In order to sign up, you’ll need to provide proof of enrollment at an educational institution. With this proof, you will be able to enjoy the Virtual Wallet for six years without a monthly fee. 

The Perks

PNC’s Virtual Wallet Student Account provides a suite of banking products, including a student checking account. The banking products include a checking account called Spend, an interest-bearing checking account called Reserve, and a savings account called Growth. 

Here’s the breakdown. 

The Spend account is a non-interest-bearing checking account that will act as your primary checking account. The Reserve account is an interest-bearing checking account that could be a good place to store short-term savings. Finally, your Growth account is a high yield savings account that can help you work towards your long-term savings goals. 

In combination, PNC’s Virtual Wallet Student Account offers the opportunity for students new to the world of personal finance to get their bearings. PNC provides access to mobile tools and educational resources to help you manage your finances effectively. 

One standout feature offered by the Spend account is its Low Cash Mode. Essentially, Low Cash Mode gives you more control in an overdraft situation by allowing you to choose to pay or return certain checks or payments. Plus, Low Cash Mode will show you how much time you have to bring your Spend account balance back to at least $0 in order to avoid an overdraft fee. 

The Fees

As a student, you can have access to the entire Virtual Wallet without a monthly service charge for up to six years.

As you set up your financial habits, PNC seems to recognize that mistakes happen. With that in mind, the bank will automatically refund the $36 fee associated with your first overdraft event. 

But there are still other fees to consider. A few include:

  • $7.50 card replacement

  • $3 ATM charge at non-PNC Bank ATMs

  • 3% international transaction fee

  • $30 agent-assisted outgoing domestic wire fee

Access

PNC Bank has approximately 2,300 locations across the country. Plus, there are nearly 18,000 PNC and Partner ATMs available in the U.S. 

Additionally, PNC Bank has specialized partnerships with educational institutions. Find out if PNC Bank has a partnership with your school here. You may receive special perks if your school is a partner. 

Pros and Cons of PNC’s Virtual Wallet Student Account

Here are the pros and cons of PNC’s Virtual Wallet Student Account. 

Pros

  • No monthly fee. Enrolled students can have their fee waived for up to six years. 

  • Three bank accounts are designed to work for you. The three accounts, Spend, Reserve, and Grow, provide an opportunity to tackle all of your banking needs in one spot. 

  • Refund of the first overdraft fee. Mistakes happen and PNC Bank is willing to overlook your first mistake. 

Cons

  • Difficult to open a single account. It will be a challenge only to open a student checking account. Instead, you’ll likely have to move forward with all three bank accounts. 

  • No ATM fee reimbursement. If you don’t use a PNC Bank ATM, then you’ll have to pay a fee without reimbursement. 

Open a PNC Virtual Wallet Student account

U.S. Bank Student Checking Account 

If you are looking for a customized banking experience that blends with your campus life, then U.S. Bank could be the right fit. The U.S. Bank Student Checking account offers a unique banking experience that is designed to merge seamlessly with your on-campus life. 

The Perks

A standout feature of the U.S. Bank student checking account is the campus banking program. 

If you attend one of the 47 schools that work with the U.S. Bank campus banking program, you will have access to financial education specifically designed for students. Through this financial education, you can learn how to build credit as a student and build smart money habits that will carry you into the future. 

Additionally, the campus banking program allows you to link your student ID to your checking account in order to use your student ID for purchases. That means that you’ll have fewer cards to carry around campus. 

You can still open a U.S. Bank Student Checking account without attending one of the 47 affiliated schools. Students at every school will enjoy several features starting with the $0 monthly maintenance fee. Another enticing feature is the overdraft protection transfers that U.S. Bank can make from a linked account to cover an overdraft. 

Finally, you’ll have access to important on-the-go banking solutions, including the U.S. Bank online and mobile banking app. Plus, Zelle, mobile check deposit, and bill pay to manage your funds from anywhere. 

The Fees

There are no monthly maintenance fees while you are a student but you may still run into some fees now and then. 

Here are some important fees to consider with the U.S. Bank student checking account. 

  • $25 minimum opening deposit

  • $2 paper statement fee

  • 3% international processing fee

As a nice fee-free bonus, you will receive a box of checks for free. Since not all student checking accounts offer free checkbooks, this is something to consider if you know you’ll have a need to write checks regularly. 

Access

If you open this account, you can access more than 2,000 branches. 

Plus, 4,700 U.S. Bank ATMs. But if you use a non-U.S. Bank ATM, you’ll receive a refund on the first four ATM charges.

Pros and Cons of U.S. Bank’s Student Checking Account

Here are the pros and cons of U.S Bank’s Student Checking account. 

Pros

  • No monthly fee. As a student, you can enjoy this account without a maintenance fee. 

  • Waived ATM fees. Can’t find a U.S. Bank ATM? You will receive four out-of-network ATM fees waived each month.

  • Tailored financial education on-campus. You will get free access to financial education resources to help you start your money journey on the right foot. 

Cons

  • Limited campus banking. Campus banking is only available at 47 schools. 

  • No overdraft fee forgiveness. You can be charged the $36 overdraft fee up to four times per day.

Open a U.S. Bank Student Checking account

BB&T Student Checking Account

The BB&T Student Checking Account offers a basic banking experience with some helpful perks for students under the age of 24. With this account, you can avoid any minimum balance requirements and monthly maintenance fees. 

The Perks

The BB&T Student Checking Account offers a relatively basic banking experience, which could be the perfect fit as you start to get your financial bearings. The account offers overdraft protection, a personalized debit card, and mobile banking -- all with no monthly maintenance fee. Additionally, there is no direct deposit requirement. 

Beyond the basics, you can tap into features like mobile check deposits to easily manage your funds on the go. Plus, use Zelle to make splitting costs with friends and family a breeze. 

Finally, you can take advantage of eBills, which allows you to receive, pay, and file your bills in one spot. 

The Fees

Although there is no monthly maintenance fee, you should be aware of other fees, including:

  • $15 incoming domestic wire

  • $30 outgoing domestic wire

  • $36 overdraft fee

  • $3 out-of-network ATM fee

If you plan to take out cash regularly, BB&T offers a generous ATM fee waiver. The account will waive two non-BB&T ATM fees per month. 

However, the overdraft fees are something to be on the lookout for. You can be charged a $36 overdraft fee up to six times per day. That can add up to a whopping $216!

Access

A big drawback to BB&T’s student checking account option is that it is only available in 15 states. 

Currently, these states are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. 

However, there are over 2,500 branch locations available in the states above. 

Pros and Cons of BB&T’s Student Checking Account

Here are the pros and cons of BB&T’s Student Checking Account. 

Pros

  • No monthly fee. You won’t have to pay a monthly fee if you are a student under the age of 24. 

  • Regular out-of-network ATM fee waivers. BB&T will waive two out-of-network ATM fees per month. 

Cons

  • Extensive overdraft fees. You could be charged an overdraft fee up to six times in one day. 

  • Limited availability. Not available in most states. 

Open a BB&T Student Checking account

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

The Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking is available for students free of charge if they are enrolled in high school, college, or a vocational program. In order to enjoy the monthly fee waiver, you will need to be under the age of 24. 

As a bank with a large footprint, this account has a lot to offer. 

The Perks

Bank of America’s Advantage SafeBalance Banking program offers a general checking account with the option for students to waive the monthly maintenance fee. 

Importantly, this account is set up so that you will never incur an overdraft. Charges are simply declined if it the charge will overdraft the account. With that, you avoid the hefty fees that can come with an overdraft. However, you may run into fees from a third party, such as a late fee for not paying your bill on time. 

In addition to no threat of overdrafts, you can take advantage of the Keep the Change program to build your savings. Essentially, this feature will round up all of your debit card purchases to the dollar and deposit the difference in your savings account. Over time, these savings will gradually build. 

Once you open the account, you can set up account alerts via text or email to stay on top of your spending. The built-in tools, such as Erica, the virtual banking assistant, that are available through the Bank of America app will allow you to track your financial habits and build a budget that works for your goals. 

Plus, you can take advantage of debit card controls and fraud protection to keep your funds safe. 

The Fees

As a student, you won’t be charged a monthly maintenance fee. But there are some other fees to keep in mind, including:

  • $5 card replacement fee

  • $30 stop payment fee

  • $15 incoming domestic wire

  • $30 outgoing domestic wire

  • $2.50 non-Bank of America ATMs

Another point to consider is that you’ll need to have $100 available for the minimum opening deposit required of this account. 

Access

Bank of America has a large physical presence in all 50 states that will come in handy as an account holder. You will have access to 4,300 branches and 17,000 ATMs. 

Pros and Cons of Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

Here are the pros and cons of Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking. 

Pros

  • Keep the Change. Get a helping hand to build your savings faster. 

  • No overdraft fees. You won’t run into an overdraft issue for making a mistake. 

Cons

  • Minimum opening deposit required. You will need to make a minimum deposit of $100 to get started. 

  • Monthly maintenance fee after graduation. The monthly fee will be $4.95 after graduation to keep this account.

Open a Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking account

Capital One MONEY Account

Most of the options on this list are geared towards college or vocational students. But if you want to open an account as a teen student, then you are in luck with the Capital One MONEY account

The Capital One MONEY account is designed for teenagers. But anyone over the age of 8 can become a joint account holder with a parent. When you turn 18, you’ll have the option to open a 360 Checking account. 

The Perks

It can be difficult to find a student account available for younger students. But the Capital One MONEY account offers a great experience to students that are still under the age of 18.

With the Capital One MONEY account, you won’t encounter any monthly fees or minimums. Although the student is able to use the account, their parents will be joint owners. With that, parents can monitor their child’s spending habits. 

As a parent, you can link any existing bank account to set up transfers of money. Parents can track the account activities of their teenagers. Plus, lock and unlock the associated debit card when necessary. 

Since the account is designed for cardholders under the age of 18, the debit card cannot be used at certain businesses. Examples include car rentals, online retailers, drinking establishments, liquor stores, and massage parlors. 

The Capital One MONEY account doesn’t stop there. Additionally, account holders will enjoy the interest-bearing feature that currently offers 0.10% APY on any balance. This final feature is just the cherry on top of an outstanding student checking account experience. 

The Fees

The Capital One MONEY account advertises no fees. While there are no monthly maintenance fees, there are a few other fees to keep in mind, including:

  • $25 expedited card delivery fee

  • $5 statement copy charge

  • $10 cashier’s check charge

However, you won’t run into any account minimums to keep track of. 

Access

Capital One has an increasingly digital outlook. Although you will still find hundreds of Capital One locations around the country, the bank has been scaling back on physical branches in recent years. If in-person banking is important to you, confirm that Capital One offers a branch in your area before signing up. 

However, you will still have access to over 70,000 in-network ATMs through Capital One. 

Pros and Cons of Capital One MONEY

Here are the pros and cons of the Capital One MONEY account. 

Pros

  • Accepts young students. The account is available for students between the ages of 8 and 18. 

  • Account upgrades at 18. The account holder can upgrade their account from the student version to the Capital One 360 Checking Account. 

  • Earns interest. An interest-bearing checking account provides extra earnings to boost your savings. 

Cons

  • Entirely paper-free. You can’t write checks with this account. 

  • Limited physical locations. Capital One has been scaling back its physical presence. 

Open a Capital One MONEY account 

What to Look for When Shopping for a Checking Account

As you explore your checking account options, here are some features to consider. 

Fees

First things first, keep an eye out for any fees associated with a particular checking account. The good news is that most student checking accounts will not have a monthly maintenance fee attached. 

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other fees to consider. A few include overdraft fees, paper statement charges, and check fees. 

Take some time to look at the fine print of any checking account to ensure that the fees won’t take too big of a bite out of your budget. 

Insurance

If you are using your checking account to cover your expenses, you don’t want to leave those funds unprotected. That’s why it is critical to ensure that your checking account comes with the appropriate insurance. 

Make sure that the financial institution offers insurance on its checking accounts through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Administration. In either case, the funds would be insured for up to $250,000. 

Money Management Tools

Some banks provide money management tools that can help make your life easier. If you want to enjoy the streamlined approach of using a money management tool directly in your bank’s platform, then ensure that the tools offered will fit the bill. 

Services Included

Everyone will use their checking account differently. For some, a checking account will be an entirely online experience. For others, access to physical checks is a dealbreaker. 

Look at what the bank offers in advance to verify that you will have the access you need. 

Online Banks vs Brick and Mortar Banks

When opening a checking account, you’ll need to make the choice between online banks and brick and mortar institutions. The right choice will depend on your unique needs. 

In-person banking can have some perks. You’ll have the ability to walk into a branch location to handle your money tasks with the help of trained staff. Plus, you’ll have a physical place to go if you have questions about your account. 

In the past, in-person banking was the only way to go. But in-person banking isn’t the only option anymore. Online banks can offer checking accounts with equal perks. Of course, you’ll miss the opportunity to ask questions in-person. However, the sleek online presence created by online banks and a smooth customer interface may answer any questions you have. 

Consider your personal preferences before you decide to go with either an online bank or a brick-and-mortar bank. 

How to Open a Student Checking Account

Ready to open a student checking account?

Once you determine which bank you want to work with, you can head to their website or to a physical branch location. From there, you will fill out an application to open the account. 

You’ll need to provide some basic information such as your legal name, birth date, social security number, and more. As a student, you’ll need to provide proof of enrollment to finalize the opening of a student checking account. Depending on the bank, this could be accomplished with your academic course load or student ID. 

If the account requires an opening deposit, be prepared to make the transfer immediately. After that, you’ll have to wait to receive your debit card in the mail. 

Best Practices for Managing a Checking Account

Once you open a checking account, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to manage it effectively. Here are some tips to help you succeed. 

Be Aware Of Your Balance

When you are spending with a plastic card, it can be easy to overspend. But it is critical to stay aware of your checking account balance to avoid expensive overdraft fees. 

Luckily, most checking accounts will allow you to set up a low-balance alert. With that, you’ll know when you need to be careful with your spending. Not only will regularly checking in with your account balance help you from an overdraft charge, but it will also help you spot potential fraud. 

Keep Your Savings Elsewhere

A checking account is a great place to manage your budget. You may have your paycheck automatically deposited into a checking account. From there, a checking account is a great tool to manage your spending. 

But a checking account is not the appropriate place to store savings for an extended period of time. Instead, a savings account or other type of savings vehicle will be a good fit. 

Tap Into Automatic Savings Features

Speaking of savings, it can be difficult to consistently set aside money. Luckily, many checking accounts offer automatic savings features that you should absolutely take advantage of.

For example, your checking account may offer a round-up saving service. In this case, your bank would round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and transfer the difference to your savings. Additionally, you may be able to set up automatic transfers with each paycheck deposited into your checking account. 

Take Advantage Of The Perks

If your checking account comes with perks, don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. 

A few possible perks include extended warranties on purchases, fraud protection, identity theft protection, and ATM fee reimbursement. Why not take advantage of everything that your checking account offers?

What Happens When You are No Longer a Student?

Student checking accounts are designed for students. So what happens after graduation?

Typically, you’ll have the opportunity to continue working with the same bank. But you won’t qualify for the student checking account anymore. Instead, you’ll likely have to transition into one of its other checking accounts. 

In most cases, you’ll find that the regular checking account comes with fees attached. Don’t be afraid to explore your options for a new financial institution as you transition from your student checking account. 

Do Student Checking Accounts Affect Your Credit Score?

The information in your checking account will not show up on your credit report. With that, a student checking account will not impact your credit score. 

However, the way you manage your student checking account can impact your ChexSystems Report. The ChexSystems report will keep track of your account activities and create a picture of how you approach banking. 

You can negatively impact your ChexSystems report by repeatedly creating overdraft charges, leaving balances unpaid, or abusing your ATM card.  

If you have a negative balance in one checking account, thereby owing the bank money, you will have difficulty opening another account somewhere else. 

Pros and Cons of Student Checking Accounts

As with all financial products, there are some pros and cons to consider with student checking accounts. 

Pros

  • Waived monthly fees

  • Available at a young age

  • An affordable way to manage your funds

Cons

  • Overdraft fees possible

  • Real consequences for mismanaged funds

Summary

A student checking account could be the tool you need to start your financial journey. With the right student checking account, you can avoid annoying fees and take advantage of useful perks along the way. 

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All of our content is verified for accuracy by Mark Herman, CFP and our team of certified financial experts. We pride ourselves on quality, research, and transparency, and we value your feedback. Below you'll find answers to some of the most common reader questions about 6 Best Student Checking Accounts for 2021.

Is it Worth Getting a Student Bank Account?

Yes, a student checking account is a useful way to manage your money. Although you may not have a large income, student checking accounts can help you manage expenses responsibly. 

Plus, you can find a free student checking account. This presents a great opportunity to learn more about money management while the stakes are relatively small. 

Mark Herman has been helping friends with financial questions since serving as an Army helicopter pilot. Since then, he’s gained valuable experience in the corporate world before moving on to become a Certified Financial Planner™.

If you have a question about 6 Best Student Checking Accounts for 2021, then please ask Mark.

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All of the opinions expressed herein are the author's alone, and not those of any bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, lender, insurance company, outside financial institution, or any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post or any other third parties.