February 15, 2022
9 best student bank accounts for 2023
It can be hard navigating bank accounts. Learn what the best student bank accounts are and how to open one.
When you’re heading off to college, it might be the first time you’re responsible for managing your own finances. And a part of managing your own finances is opening a bank account.
Unfortunately, many bank accounts come with restrictions and fees that aren’t friendly to students. They might require a monthly direct deposit, a large minimum balance, or monthly fees to maintain the account.
Luckily, there are plenty of banks that offer student bank accounts without any of these burdensome requirements.
In this article, we’re sharing what to look for in a student bank account, how to open a student bank account, and the 9 best student bank accounts on the market today.
What is a student bank account?
A student bank account is one specifically designed for the unique needs of college students.
While they come with many of the same features as a traditional bank account, banks understand that you may not have a regular income or money to pay the fees of standard accounts when you’re in college.
Student bank accounts usually waive minimum balance requirements, minimum opening deposits, and monthly maintenance fees. In some cases, student bank accounts might even come with educational resources to help you learn the ropes of managing your money.
Student accounts are often only available if you’re under a certain age, such as 24, or can provide proof that you’re attending college.
Let's break down a few main differences:
Student bank account vs. traditional bank account
The primary difference between a student bank account and a traditional account is that student accounts typically have age or attendance requirements, fewer fees, and no (or low) minimum balance requirements.
Often, banks let students convert their student accounts to traditional accounts after they graduate.
Student bank account vs. teen bank account
Teen checking accounts are for high schoolers living at home. As with a student account, you have to meet the age requirement, and they waive certain requirements. But in the case of a teen account, a parent or guardian must also be on the account.
You may be able to convert a teen bank account to a student bank account when you turn 18.
What to look for in a student bank account
When looking for the right student bank account for you, there’s no shortage of options. Every bank account might come with slightly different features and selling points, but there are certain features that you should look for in any student account.
Let’s take a closer look.
1. No monthly maintenance fees
Plenty of banks charge a monthly maintenance fee for checking accounts. This fee comes directly out of your bank account balance each month.
Sometimes the bank only charges the fee if you don’t meet certain other balance or direct deposit requirements. Meanwhile, some banks charge it no matter what. Most student accounts allow you to avoid the monthly fee without extra steps, keeping more of your money in your account.
2. No minimum opening deposit or minimum balance requirement
Some banks require you to have a certain amount of money to open a bank account or to keep a certain amount in the account on an ongoing basis.
They may measure this using the average daily balance, which adds up each day’s balance in a month and divides it by the number of days in the month. That average daily balance must be above the minimum balance requirement to avoid fees.
But when you’re in college, you might be on a tight budget, so meeting any sort of minimum balance requirement may be difficult.
Luckily, you’ll find that most student bank accounts don’t require you to have a large balance to open the account and have no minimum monthly balance requirements.
3. No direct deposit requirement
Another rule that some traditional bank accounts have is that you must have a direct deposit set up for the account. Some banks charge fees if you don’t set this up.
It’s easy for full-time working adults who have graduated from college to set up a direct deposit to send their paychecks to their bank accounts. But when you’re in college, you might not have a regular income or may have a job that doesn’t pay via direct deposit.
When you’re choosing a student bank account, be sure to choose one that doesn’t have a direct deposit requirement if you don’t have a steady job. If you do have stable hours, this may not be as big of a deal.
4. Strong online and mobile banking
As a college student, you probably rely heavily on technology to manage your life. Your bank account should be no different, especially if you have a busy schedule.
The best student bank accounts include mobile banking features like mobile check deposits, simple transfers, bill pay, spending insights, and more. A simple and useful user interface is also good to look for—the easier it is to use the app, the better.
5. Large ATM network
When you’re heading to campus events or out with friends, you may often find yourself needing to pull cash out of the ATM. Unfortunately, out-of-network ATM fees can really add up.
If you choose a bank that has a large ATM network, then you’ll have an easier time finding fee-free ATMs to use.
Also, look for out-of-network fee reimbursement. Banks with this feature will pay you up to a certain amount to cover the cost of ATM fees at out-of-network ATMs.
6. Nationwide availability
Local banks and credit unions can have their perks, but might not have the features or the accessibility that you want. National banks tend to have more robust features, as well as more availability of ATMs and branches.
7. Excellent customer service
Customer service is important no matter what service you’re shopping for, but even more so for banking. You want to make sure that no matter what goes wrong, there’s someone who can help you solve the problem or access your money as quickly as possible.
8. No or low fees
When you're in college, you probably can't afford to have your money going toward fees. Look for a student bank account that gets rid of these fees with services like overdraft protection.
It’s easy to find credit cards with rewards or savings accounts that offer high-yield interest rates. But now, more and more banks are offering similar rewards for checking accounts.
Some checking accounts offer cash back on debit card purchases, similar to a credit card. Others allow you to earn interest on your balance like you would with a savings account.
10. FDIC insurance
No matter what other features you need in a bank, you should always make sure the account you choose is covered by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance.
FDIC insurance covers bank accounts up to $250,000 per person, per account type. If your bank goes under (yes this happens), FDIC insurance guarantees you get your money back up to that $250,000 limit.
How to open a student bank account
Luckily, opening a student bank account isn’t difficult. Most banks allow you to do it either online or in person. Setting up an account online can take as little as 5 minutes, so you’re not spending much time out of your day.
When you sign up for your account, you’ll have to provide some basic personal information, including:
Social Security number (SSN)
If you’re under 18, you might need a parent to open the account with you. Depending on your bank, you might have to prove enrollment at a college to sign up using a document like a transcript or a scanned copy of your student identification card. Luckily, however, most banks base eligibility on your age.
If you sign up online, you may have access to your account right away. Then you can go about depositing money, ordering your debit card, and handling any other setup tasks.
The 9 best student bank accounts
Choosing a bank account isn’t easy. To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of the best student bank accounts so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
Let’s dive in!
1. Mos Student Checking account
Mos is changing the way students do money. We offer a student checking account, debit card, and tools to manage all things financial aid in one holistic app.
Mos checking accounts have zero overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, maintenance fees, or in-network ATM fees. That way, you can spend your cash on, well, whatever you want.
Speaking of cash--the Mos debit card offers 1% cash back on all qualifying transactions in your chosen category in store and online.
You pick the category you want to earn cash back in and you can switch categories every 30 days. We set food and drink as the default, but you can choose from:
Looking to make some money on the side? Open your Mos app to match with student-approved gigs—sell your notes, tutor students, walk dogs, and more to start earning.
And because we know that student debt can have long-term effects on your financial health, we've created tools to help you graduate debt-free. With Mos you can:
Get help with the FAFSA
Explore a database of 20,000+ scholarships
Match with an expert advisor for 1-on-1 financial aid help
Even teens can open a Mos account with their parents, since we offer joint accounts. That means teens can get a head start on college with financial aid and scholarships, earn cash back, and start saving money.
Keep in mind that Mos isn’t technically a bank—we’re a technology company. The banking products we offer are in partnership with Blue Ridge Bank.
2. Chase Bank College Checking account
The Chase College Checking is an account designed for college students from the ages of 17 to 24. If you’re 17 years old, you’ll have to open the account at a Chase, but if you’re 18 or older, you can open your account online.
The account comes with no monthly service fee for up to 5 years while you’re in school. After you graduate, you can keep the account until you’re 24, and simply pay a $6 monthly service fee or meet a direct deposit or minimum balance requirement.
The account comes with features that include:
Overdraft protection with a Chase Savings account
Peer-to-peer transfers with Zelle
Autosave tool to help you save for your goals
Educational content around money management
3. Capital One 360 Checking account
Capital One’s 360 checking account isn’t technically a student account, but its features are just as good.
This account comes with no minimum balance requirement to open the account, or on an ongoing basis. It’s easy to open your account online. You’ll just have to provide some personal information, and then you’ll have access to your new account immediately.
Capital One has excellent mobile banking features that include:
Capital One’s account also comes with free credit monitoring, a network of 70,000 fee-free ATMs, and interest earnings on your checking account balance.
4. Bank of America Advantage Banking
Bank of America’s Advantage Banking technically comes with a monthly maintenance fee if you don’t meet certain requirements. But Bank of America waives the fee for students under the age of 24.
As a national bank, Bank of America has fee-free ATMs all over the country, allowing you to withdraw your money for free.
A unique feature of Bank of America’s account is Erica, your virtual banking assistant. Using the mobile app, you can ask Erica questions, find local ATMs, and more.
Another benefit of Bank of America’s Advantage Banking account is the budgeting features it includes. You can see a weekly snapshot of your month-to-date spending, receive bill reminders, and more.
Other features include:
Debit card controls
Credit score monitoring
4. Discover Cashback Debit account
Discover offers a rewards checking account that allows you to earn cash back on your debit card purchases like you would with a credit card. Right now, the account offers 1% on up to $3,000 in purchases each month.
There's no monthly maintenance fee on this account, making it perfect for college students. There are also no overdraft fees or closure fees and there are more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.
Discover offers a mobile app with plenty of features that college students need, including:
Debit card freeze
Money management educational content
5. PNC Virtual Wallet Student account
The PNC Virtual Wallet Student checking account is available for anyone 16 years of age or older. Unlike some of the other student accounts, there’s no maximum age limit on this card. Instead, you’ll simply lose the benefits after 6 years.
The PNC student account comes with no monthly service fees, and it has measures in place to help you avoid an overdraft fee. If you go over your account balance, you have 24 hours to deposit money and bring your balance to zero before PNC charges you a fee.
You can also set up an alert when your account dips below a certain balance to help you avoid overdrawing your account.
Like other student accounts, PNC’s student account comes with some excellent mobile banking features, including:
A bill calendar
Low cash mode
6. U.S. Bank Student Checking account
U.S. Bank is another national bank known for its excellent student checking account. Like many others on the market, this one offers no monthly maintenance fee, as well as overdraft protection to help you avoid overdraft fees.
U.S. Bank also has a campus banking feature designed to make it easy for college students to manage their money. It also offers special benefits and rewards beyond the student checking account to students who go to a school that participates in this program. These special benefits vary by school, but include:
Campus card programs
Convenient ATM access
On-campus branches and support centers
7. Chime Spending account
Chime is one of the most popular online banks on the market today, and its features are perfectly suited to college students.
First, you won’t pay any hidden fees with this account. It gets rid of many burdensome requirements like:
Monthly maintenance fees
Foreign transaction fees
Chime also has a network of more than 60,000 fee-free ATMs, so it’s easy to avoid an ATM fee.
Another feature of Chime’s checking account, which is particularly useful for college students, is that you get your direct deposit payments 2 days early.
8. Ally Bank Interest Checking
Ally Bank is another popular online bank on the market. The company’s checking account combines the perks of a typical online checking account with those of a high-yield savings account. You can earn a 0.10% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on a balance of $10,000 or less and a 0.25% APR on a balance of $15,000 or more.
Ally makes banking for students affordable by requiring no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, low balance fees, or fees on wires and transfers.
Because it’s an online bank, you can expect Ally to have some robust mobile banking features, including:
Debit card controls
Automatic round-ups to help you save
Mobile check deposit
Ally Bank notably eliminated all overdraft fees in July 2021 and offers a few options to prevent overdrawing your account.
Absent these options, Ally instead declines purchases if the account holder’s balance is not large enough to cover the transaction.
9. TD Bank Convenience Checking
TD’s Convenience Checking is available to anyone, but it has a special student perk of no monthly maintenance fee for customers ages 17-23.
TD Bank offers plenty of mobile banking features you might need as a student, including:
Contactless debit cards
TD Bank also allows you to connect your account to a TD Bank student savings account and turn on overdraft protection, allowing you to avoid overdraft fees as well.
When it comes to finding the right student bank account, you've got options--lots of them. Use this guide as a starting point to find the best bank for you.
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