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How to Choose the Right College Bank Account

Jun 26, 2013 • Loretta Kay • Saving & Spending
Choosing the right bank saves you fees and inconvenience.

Choosing the right bank saves you fees and inconvenience.

In high school, I started my first checking account at a local bank. I received a debit card and, in my small town, it worked out well. However, after my first year in college, I have realized that it’s not a good college bank account and I’ve decided to switch. Here are a few things I’m considering when finding a new bank.

Proximity to Campus

There was an ATM located in my dorm building last year. It was very convenient, except for the fact that it charged me $3 each time I had to withdraw money (because my debit card wasn’t from the same bank as the ATM). It didn’t seem like much at first, but it added up. As my mom told me in terms that I could understand, $3 is almost the price of a latte. So when choosing a bank account, do some research into the banks and ATMs that are on or close to campus. Often this information is available on the school’s website, but if not, a Google Maps search will do the trick.

Accessibility

We college students are mobile types. We study abroad, go on cross-country roadtrips, and we scatter across the country for various jobs and opportunities after graduation. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to choose a large, national bank that you will be able to find wherever you go in the United States. Some good examples include Citibank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America.

Online and Mobile Banking

It’s very useful as a college student to have easy access to your bank account. We often live paycheck to paycheck (or parent check to parent check) and thus frequently need to check our bank accounts to make sure that we have enough for those concert tickets or that meal.

Having a mobile banking app on your phone allows you to check your balance quickly. Bank apps often have excellent features, such as quick account transfers, and — my personal favorite — mobile check deposits. These features would have saved me many a long trek to my bank in college. If they are important to you, make sure your bank has the mobile and online features you need.

Do Your Research

Make sure that the bank you choose has the right account for you. Some banks don’t provide debit cards that account holders can use in stores. Others have minimum balances that might seem unreasonable for college students. Many banks offer a special college bank account with no monthly fees.

Figure out what sort of account you want and then find the bank that best suits your needs. I will probably choose a large national bank for my new account, which will provide the convenience and features I’ll need for the rest of my college career.

Image source: catatronic on Flickr

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Loretta Kay

Loretta Kay

Loretta is a student at Emerson College majoring in writing, literature, and publishing. Her favorite books are "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" by Bill Bryson, "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" by Michael Chabon, and Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth".

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