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Tips for College Students When Opening a Bank Account

College student using laptop to access bank account

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

You and the LawAs college freshmen head off for the fall semester, most will be living away from home for the first time. Opening a bank account may seem like a good way to manage daily cash needs. But before you sign up for a new checking account, there are some things you should consider.

An account with a bank affiliated with the college the student will attend might seem like the best choice, but these accounts can come with some unexpected costs.

Special marketing arrangements between colleges and banks may steer students toward high-fee accounts according to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The report found that in the 2016-17 academic year, 1.3 million college students paid more than $27 million in fees, while colleges earned $16 million during that same period to promote banking products.

Not all school-affiliated bank accounts carry high fees. Some offer low-fee and no-fee accounts for students, so look closely at the offer.

Look for a bank that waives monthly fees on student accounts without requiring a large balance.

Find out if the account offers a free debit card, free check writing and free ATM usage within the bank network.

Don’t sign up for overdraft protection. You may instead want to link a savings account to the checking account. Transfer fees are usually
much lower than overdraft fees. Check out ATM access near the college and consider the out-of-network fees to withdraw funds.

College credit unions and online banking are two other options to consider. Both usually charge lower fees., a program
of Consumer Reports, provides information about hidden fees in several areas, including college student bank accounts.

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