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Best Student Checking Accounts in 2017

We’ve complied a list of the best student checking accounts in 2017. Options include online and traditional banks that pay bonuses, high interest rates, or both.

best student checking accounts

As we head into a new year, thousands of young adults will be heading to college for the first time. It’s important to get started on the right financial foot. A free student checking account is a good tool, particularly when combined with a savings account. Obtaining a student checking account that’s convenient for both students and their parents should be one of the first steps after deciding which school to attend and before moving in. For those students living at home, finding a convenient student checking account may be even easier.

The best student checking accounts often have desirable features, like no monthly fees, free checks, and low or no minimum balances. Completely free student checking accounts are a little difficult to come by, but many can be made free with a little effort. I often wish I could still qualify for free student accounts. After graduation or otherwise leaving the world of academics behind, you often find that you’ll need to pay fees or maintain a balance to maintain the same level of service from your bank.

Banking Deal: Earn 1.30% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.

Here are some of the features of common student checking accounts. There may be differences depending on where you live. Why focus on the big banks first? shizennougyou readers check in from all over the country–well, all over the world, really–and at least one of these banks will be in everyone’s backyard. Big banks aren’t the only games in town, though, so continue reading for more options, some of which might be more attractive.

If you’re in need for accounts specifically for adults, check out our best online checking accounts reviews.

Best Student Checking Accounts

Chase College Checking–Chase Bank is a large nationwide financial institution with many branches throughout the United States. Chase Total Checking is the basic checking product offered, and the student version of their checking account adds to these features and reduces the fees. Chase College Checking comes with a free debit card, online bill payment, mobile banking, and account alerts. You need only $25 to open a checking account at Chase. The monthly service fee is $6, but it will be waived for the first five years the account is opened. After that, it can be waived when you have a monthly direct deposit set up, OR maintain at least a $5,000 average daily balance.

For a limited time, Chase is offering students a $50 bonus to sign up for a Chase College Checking account. After your initial deposit is made, make 10 qualifying transactions in the first 60 days and the bonus is yours.

Chase also offers a version of this account for high school students, too. For high school students, there is no monthly fee when the account is linked to a parent’s account. It’s easy to convert the account from high school checking to college checking once the student is enrolled in an institute of higher learning.

Ally Interest Checking–While not specific for students, Ally Interest Checking is a fantastic option for students to consider. The best feature is that Ally has NO monthly maintenance fees. No rules to follow; just the peace of mind that you’ll never be charged a monthly fee for this product. They’ll also refund up to $10 per month from other bank’s ATM fees. They’re on the Allpoint ATM network so any of those ATM’s can be used fee free. Checks can be deposited remotely using your smartphone and money can be transferred person to person (fee free) using Popmoney.

Remember, this is Ally Interest Checking. All balances less than a $15,000 minimum daily balance (MDB) will receive a 0.10% APY and all balances greater than a $15,000 MDB will receive a 0.60% APY. While the higher interest rate may be attractive, I have two reasons why it’s really not. First, it’s rare for a student to have more than $15,000 in a checking account and second, if they do, that money should be placed in a high yield savings account or CD. Current interest rates are more than double that of 0.60% … no sense in leaving the money in checking.

Wells Fargo Teen Checking–If you’re a high school student, the Wells Fargo Teen Checking account might be for you. Created specifically for High School students between the ages of 13 and 17, this account gives parents oversight into a teen’s bank account. Students will get their own debit card and parents can set the limits on purchases and withdrawals. There is no monthly service fee so long as you agree to paperless statements and the initial deposit required is just $25.

Parents will receive daily alerts via text message, email or online every time there’s activity on their child’s debit card. You’ll also have the option to use Overdraft protection by linking a Wells Fargo savings account just in-case. All Wells Fargo Teen Checking accounts include their standard security features like zero liability protection and 24/7 fraud monitoring.

Santander Student Value Checking–The Santander Student Value Checking account is the most straightforward offer of any student checking account. It’s available to any student ages 16-25. There is no monthly fees associated with this account and the minimum deposit to open is a cool Hamilton ($10). While this account does not earn interest, there is also no minimum balance required to keep the account open.

If you own a Santander Student Value Checking account, you can choose to open either a savings or money market account with Santander, and that account too will not carry a monthly service charge. ATM withdrawals from non Santander ATM’s will cost you $2 (plus whatever the other bank charges) which can get expensive if you plan to make a lot of ATM transactions.

Key Student Checking–KeyBank offers a very terrific student checking option centralized around no fees. The minimum deposit to open the account is $50 and there is no minimum balance to maintain. The Key Student Checking account is available to any student age 16 or older who has a valid social security number. The nicest benefit comes if the form of ATM refunds. When other banks charge you a fee for withdrawals, KeyBank will reimburse you up to $6 of those fees per month.

There is a $5 monthly fee associated with the Key Student Checking account. That fee can be waived in one of two ways:

  1. Have deposits of at least $200 per month
  2. Make at least five account transactions per month

Bank of America Core Checking–Despite another large network of bank locations, Bank of America wants to direct its student-customers towards “eBanking.” These accounts are designed to encourage staying out of bank branches and banking completely with ATMs, online, and mobile. With the account, students will receive a free debit card, online and mobile banking, a savings account with “Keep the Change,” a feature that automatically rounds your spending up to the nearest dollar and places the remainder into a savings account for you.

The Bank of America Core Checking product is perfect for students. Any student under the age of 24 will get the monthly fee waived. If you’re older, then the $12 monthly fee can be waived in any of the following situations:

  • You have at least one direct deposit each month of $250 or more
  • You maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500
  • You enroll in the Preferred Rewards Program

Unfortunately, there is no refund on ATM fees. The minimum opening deposit on a Bank of America Core Checking account is just $25.

Try the Bank Down the Street

Your local community bank, regional bank, or credit union. These banks are some of the largest banks in the United States in terms of assets. It’s likely one or more of the four banks above will be convenient to both students and their parents or guardians. These aren’t the only choices, however. As long as each major national bank feels they only need to compete with the other three major national banks, there won’t be much incentive for the big companies to offer the best products. Smaller banks don’t have the resources to mount strong marketing campaigns that can compete for your attention. Credit unions hardly advertise at all.

It may take a phone call, but you might find that smaller banks offer better deals for students than what the large banks offer. As long as your checking account is protected by FDIC or NCUA insurance, you shouldn’t feel that smaller banks are riskier than larger banks.

Updated November 6, 2017 and originally published June 6, 2011.

About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of shizennougyou. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

Looking at the fee schedule, only TD student and US Bank give a break for students. Apparently, they realize if you get them early, they will stay with the bank. The large banks do not care about small customers as the fee schedule may indicate.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

Dude, how many people get registered following you links?

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avatar 3 Luke Landes

I don’t know. There are no affiliate links in the article. I don’t track them and shizennougyou isn’t paid for them. I included links to the bank’s pages because during this time of year many people are looking for this type of information.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

My Credit Union offers great accounts Checkings and savings for Students. I been with them since College as well.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

Forgot the big banks and find a credit union. You should never pay money for basic banking.

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avatar 6 skylog

i agree. i can understand if your are utilizing many different services at a bank, but, as you say, for basic banking, there should be limited, if any, fees.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Although not a “student” account, Capital One offers a Rewards checking account with no miminum balance requirement, no monthly fees, and it includes free online bill pay and a free mastercard platinum debit card, initial deposit of just $50. They also offer a Simple Savings account with no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirement, initial deposit of just $25 and .7% on any balance of $2500 or more.

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avatar 8 Anonymous

US Bank does provide free non-bank ATMs, but only 4 transactions per month.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

I’m a college student who decided to get away from big branch banks. I have my checking and savings accounts through Ally. Their customer service is great, and you can use any ATM nationwide and they reimburse the fees the ATM charges. They also pay the highest interest rates in the industry on checking and savings accounts.

Going to a totally online bank is a big jump for some people to make, but there are great benefits in doing so.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

I agree with Tyler – going to an online bank is the way to go. I think most young people don’t really have _that_ many uses for needing to go into a bank as it is.

I use Schwab which has free ATMs (worldwide), free checks, and now has check deposit through smartphones (what used to be the biggest downside to schwab was having to mail in checks for deposits)

They try to hook you onto schwab by making you open a brokerage account with the bank account, but you dont actually have to use the brokerage part…

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avatar 11 Anonymous

I am opening a Schwab account for my son. They refund other bank’s ATM fees and the check deposit via iPhone/Android is great. No longer will he have to hold onto checks that he gets at school until he can get home to deposit them.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

M&T Bank also offers a solid student account called @College Checking:
-Monthly Fee: $0.00
-Minimum Balance: $0.00
-Features: debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts, free checks, free access to non-bank ATMs (4 times per month), free incoming wire transfers

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avatar 13 qixx

Am i missing why i’d want a “student” checking account when i can get free checking that is not directed toward students?

One thing to look at with national banks if you are setting up an account before you head off to school; make sure there are convenient locations to school and your new home. Should go without saying. I however did not realize this until i got out to school to find no Bank of America locations within 50 miles.

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avatar 14 Luke Landes

Accounts branded as “student checking accounts” generally have fewer limitations that standard “free” accounts. Many free, non-student accounts have minimum balance requirements or other restrictive features that are often missing from accounts directed towards students. While that’s the general trend, it’s not always the rule, so it’s worthwhile to examine the details.

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avatar 15 Anonymous

Effective November 14th, all student checking accounts (aka “College Combo”) will be charged a $10 fee unless you keep a direct deposit of $500 or more in your checking account, OR $1500 minimum daily balance, OR a monthly automatic loan payment from this account to a WF home equity/personal loan or line of credit, or WF Home Mortgage loan. If you have a complete account with savings, then the fee is discounted by $2 monthly service fee.

Yeah WF sucks. :)

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avatar 16 Anonymous

Happened to me this morning. I’m changing banks now.

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avatar 17 Anonymous

The Berkshire Bank now offers a free college checking account, unlimited transactions and no fee on their end to use a non-berkshire ATM.

Great Account!

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avatar 18 Anonymous

I should mention – its called Ultimate College Checking

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avatar 19 Anonymous

The Berkshire Bank offers a new free college checking account called Ultimate College Checking. Unlimited transactions, no monthly maintenance fee and no Berkshire Fee to use a non-Berkshire ATM – Pretty great.

This community bank has locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley.

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avatar 20 Anonymous

i live in Los Angeles. Midcity/Midtown area. I want to open up my first bank account since my financial aid money is coming soon and would like to keep it in a savings account since i do not plan on spending much of it. After reading all these comments I’m thinking I’ll go to a credit union or local bank. just not a big bank. does anyone have any suggestions on where i should go? Or any feedback in general

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