Banking Options for Students

Banking services today are incredibly convenient and reasonably priced. You can make payments, check your balance, and accept transfers from your parents in minutes. Here are some ideas for setting up your college dough.

While you are at college, you will need a convenient way to pay for books, food, and other necessities of life. You will also need access to cash. A checking account is a convenient way to take care of both needs.

Top Ten Tips for Setting Up Your Banking

If your bank has a branch office and ATMs in your college neighborhood, setting up your college banking will be simple. You have more to decide if you don't have an account or your bank is unknown in your college community. Here are some banking features to consider.

  1. Special offers. Many banks have good deals for students; these may be listed on your college website.
  2. Online banking. Almost all banks let you manage your accounts online, but look for banks that offer speedy online payments and no fees for money transfers to other banks.
  3. Conveniently located ATMs. You don't want to hike across town every time you need some cash. You don't want to rely on ATMs from other banks, which will probably charge you fees.
  4. National and international ATM networks. These are helpful if you plan to travel or access your funds back home.
  5. Linked accounts. Consider linking your account to an account owned by your parents. This is not so they can snoop, but to make it easy for them to transfer money to you. They could set up an account just for this purpose.
  6. Debit cards. You use a debit card to get cash or for purchases, similar to a credit card, except the charge is deducted from your account immediately.
  7. Direct deposit. With direct deposit, you can arrange for your financial aid, wages, or other funds to be sent directly to your bank.
  8. Overdraft protection. If a check or withdrawal puts you over your balance, you could be hit with hefty fees. Instead, overdraft protection gives you an instant loan and charges you a single fee.
  9. Other account options. A savings account is always a good idea.
  10. Customer service. Find out if bank representatives are available by phone in the evenings and on weekends in your local time zone.

Don't choose a bank just because they give you something free. Choose a bank that gives you items 1–10!

Online Banking vs. Brick and Mortar

Are you comfortable making your deposits at an ATM or do you prefer to walk into a bank and hand the teller your deposit? You can choose a local bank and do all or some of your banking in person. Many traditional banks offer all of the features mentioned in the list above, including online banking. Plus, you get the comfort of talking to a person if trouble pops up, such as an accidental overdraft.

On the other hand, are you happy to handle your finances from the comfort of your room? You might consider using an Internet-based bank that has arrangements with local ATM systems. You can get a debit card and paper checks just like you would with a traditional bank. Deposits are handled by mail, through account transfers, or electronic fund transfers.

Don't Trip Over the Extras

Read the terms and conditions of banking plans carefully. Banks do charge for some services. Here are some examples:

  • Fees for using ATMs "out of the system"
  • Charges for exceeding your account balance, if you allow this
  • Minimum balance charges if you let your balance get too low
  • Charges for "expedited payments," where a bank representative assists you in making a payment by telephone
  • Charges for printed checks
  • Other fees—such as charges for credit protection and cash advances

Managing your money is one of the rites of passage that comes with attending college. It is both a perk and a responsibility. So get a great bank and a good spending plan and get on with your college education!

Information in this article is of a general nature. It is provided by COLLEGEdata for educational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. Please consult a financial or legal advisor before acting on such information. COLLEGEdata is a service of 1st Financial Bank USA, a provider of financial services.