10 Best Checking Accounts for College Students

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College is an exciting time. You’re leaving the house and making more decisions for yourself. At the same time, it may mean you have to start managing your finances.

As you head out on your own, you might decide it’s time to find your own bank, rather than rely on the one your parents use. That can be an important step toward making your own financial decisions, and should be approached with care.

When deciding on a bank, the savvy college student needs to pay attention to items such as fees, interest rates, and minimum balance requirements. Small bank charges can add up. For a struggling college student, that can mean missed meals.

We’ve done the legwork for you, so you can see which banks offer the best checking accounts for college students. Here’s what you need to know:

Top 10 checking accounts for college students
Bank Checking account Interest rate Minimum balance requirement Online banking Mobile banking
Ally Bank Interest Checking Account 0.10% APY – 0.60% APY No Yes Yes
Capital One 360 Checking 0.20% APY – 1.00% APY No Yes Yes
BBVA Compass Simple Checking 0.01% APY No Yes Yes
USAA College Checking 0.01% APY No Yes Yes
Regions Bank LifeGreen Checking for Students N/A No Yes Yes
Chase College Checking N/A No Yes Yes
Bank of America Core Checking N/A No Yes Yes
KeyBank Student Checking N/A No Yes Yes
U.S. Bank Student Checking N/A No Yes Yes
PNC Virtual Wallet Student Check for latest rates No Yes Yes

Rates as of: Aug. 30 2018

1. Ally Bank: Interest Checking Account

Ally has long been a leader in online banking. This completely online bank offers a variety of products, including its Interest Checking Account, which is ideal for students.

Interest rates

  • 0.10% APY for a daily minimum balance of less than $15,000
  • 0.60% APY for a daily minimum balance of $15,000 or more

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Online bill pay
  • Remote check deposit
  • 24/7 live customer service
  • Transfer funds to others using Zelle

Ally also offers fee-free use of Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. If you use another ATM in the U.S., you can receive up to a $10 reimbursement per statement cycle.

Ally’s Interest Checking Account can be a good choice because you don’t have to worry over a minimum balance, an initial minimum opening deposit, or monthly fee. You can’t deposit cash into an Ally account, since it’s entirely online, but you can open an account by having money from an existing account transferred. If you have a job, your paycheck can be directly deposited.

Common fees you can expect to pay include:

  • Overdraft: $25 (limit one per day)
  • Returned deposit item: $7.50
  • Overnight bill pay (by mail): $14.95
  • Same-day bill pay (electronic): $9.95

As long as you plan ahead and don’t overdraw your account, you should be able to easily avoid fees from Ally’s Interest Checking Account.

Because of its no-fee, no-minimum approach to checking, Ally can be a great choice for college students. It’s designed for online access, and the app is easy to use, allowing you to bank from anywhere with your phone.

Visit Ally Bank

2. Capital One: 360 Checking

Capital One might be known for its credit cards, but it also has other banking offerings, including a no-fee checking account. This is an account that you can keep with you as your net worth grows, since the tiered interest grows as your account balance does.

Interest rates

  • 0.20% APY for a daily minimum balance of less than $50,000
  • 0.75% APY for a daily minimum balance of $50,000 – $99,999.99
  • 1.00% APY for a daily minimum balance of $100,000 or more

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Multiple overdraft options
  • Zelle-compatible for person-to-person transfers

Capital One also offers fee-free use of its ATMs in the U.S. You can also use Allpoint ATMS free of charge.

Because we all make mistakes, one of the benefits of the Capital One 360 Checking account is the various overdraft options. You can choose from the following:

  • Auto-decline of purchases that would overdraw your account
  • Next-day grace period (you get one business day to get the funds into the account)
  • An overdraft line of credit that charges you interest
  • Free savings transfer that allows you to move money from your 360 Savings account.

There are no minimum balance requirements to open an account and you don’t have to worry about monthly maintenance fees — even if your balance is zero.

There are some fees to consider, however:

  • Overdraft (next-day grace): $35 per item
  • Overdraft (line of credit) incurs interest charges

The easiest way to avoid charges on your account is to make sure you don’t overdraw your account. And if you do, having a connected savings account can help you avoid overdraft fees with a free transfer.

Capital One 360 Checking is easy to use online and via the mobile app, but you can also go and bank in person if you live near a brick-and-mortar branch. With all of the fee-free services and how easy it is to use, this is a checking account most students can benefit from.

Visit Capital One

3. BBVA Compass: Simple Checking

Simple offers just what the name says: simplicity in banking transactions. There are literally no costs to this account because there’s nothing for you to do but track your spending.

BBVA Compass bought Simple back in 2014, and has been promoting it as a no-frills account that helps you develop better spending habits.

Interest rate

  • 0.01% APY

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Fee-free use at BBVA Compass ATMs
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay

BBVA Compass ATMs are free to use nationwide. The bank also offers financial goal-setting tools. You can track spending and budgeting to better manage your money.

There are no fees for this account. You don’t even have to worry about overdraft fees because Simple doesn’t offer overdraft service. Instead, your transaction would be declined.

While the account is interest-bearing, it’s a small amount. However, this account can be a good place for students to start because of its money management tools and beautiful mobile app design.

Visit BBVA Compass

4. USAA: College Checking

USAA offers a checking account specifically aimed at college students. However, you need to be a member of the military or have a family member who has served in the military to open an account with USAA.

Although you might not earn a ton of interest on your balance with a USAA College Checking account, the financial institution offers a variety of products and features. You may consider its rewards credit card to take advantage of other services offered through the institution.

Interest rate

  • 0.01% APY for a daily minimum balance of more than $1,000

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Mobile wallet
  • Text alerts

USAA offers fee-free ATMs nationwide. But if you can’t find an ATM, you could use one that’s out of network and receive a reimbursement of up to $15.

You do need a minimum deposit of $25 to open a checking account at USAA. However, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a minimum balance after that.

If you qualify and open an account, here are some of the fees you need to be aware of:

  • Overdraft: $25 per transaction (limit two per day)
  • NSF item: $29
  • Returned deposit: $5 per item
  • ATM service fee: $2 after the first 10 out-of-network transactions each month, which are free

It’s possible to avoid fees by making sure you don’t overdraw your account, and by planning your ATM usage to limit the number of times you get money from the bank each month.

For those who qualify for USAA, the benefits of the service might outweigh the low interest paid on your checking account, especially since you can access a wide variety of banking products once you finish school.

Visit USAA

5. Regions Bank: LifeGreen Checking for Students

Regions Bank offers student checking to those who are 25 or younger. You can get a fee-free checking account until you turn 26. On top of that, you can also earn rewards with the LifeGreen Checking for Students account.

Interest rate

  • Not an interest-bearing account

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Relationship Rewards program
  • Online bill pay
  • Mobile banking

Like many other banks, Regions Bank offers fee-free use of its ATMs nationwide.

While you don’t need to maintain a minimum balance, you do need $50 to open an account. You can open an account online or at one of the brick-and-mortar locations.

Even though this account isn’t interest-bearing, you can take advantage of unique perks. Earn rewards for actions such as using online bill pay, making ATM deposits, and engaging in other banking activities. Points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, merchandise, and travel.

You do need to watch out for some of the fees you’ll see with this student checking account, though:

  • Overdraft: $36 per transaction
  • Returned item: $36 per item
  • Returned deposit: $15 per item
  • ATM service fee: $2.50 at ATMs not owned or operated by Regions Bank

As with most other checking accounts, the best way to avoid many of the fees is to make sure you track your spending carefully. If you want to avoid ATM fees, you’ll need to get money from Regions Bank machines.

Finally, be aware that once you turn 26, your LifeGreen Checking for Students account will be automatically switched to a “regular” LifeGreen Checking account — and that comes with fees.

This can be one of the best checking accounts for college students if you’re looking for rewards and a no-fee account, but you might need to switch it up later.

Visit Regions Bank

6. Chase: College Checking

If you’re hoping to bank with an institution with branches all over the country, Chase might be the right move for you. Chase College Checking is available to students between the ages of 17 and 24. Plus, if you’re a new Chase customer, you might qualify for a bonus of $100 when you open an account.

Interest rate

  • Not an interest-bearing account

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees, as long as you’re a college student (up to five years) and have a direct deposit made on this account each month, or an average daily balance of $5,000+
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Compatible with Zelle for person-to-person money transfers

Chase has ATMs nationwide which you can use fee-free. However, to open an account, you’ll need to make a $25 minimum opening deposit. There are no account minimums after that.

If you can’t verify your student status or meet other requirements, though, you’ll pay a $6 monthly fee. When you turn 24, or if you’ve had your monthly fee waived for five years, you’ll revert to the monthly fee.

Other fees you might pay with the Chase College Checking account include:

  • Overdraft: $34 per transaction (up to three per day)
  • Returned item: $34 per item
  • Extended overdraft: $15 additional fee each time your account is overdrawn for five or more consecutive days
  • Returned deposit: $12 per item
  • ATM service fee: $2.50 at ATMs not owned or operated by Chase

In order to avoid most of these fees, you can plan ahead to make sure you remain within budget and don’t spend more than is in your account. Chase has 16,000 ATMs, so you should be able to avoid ATM fees by using a machine near you.

Chase offers the ability to bank in person as well as online and through mobile, and you can find a branch or ATM almost anywhere. So even though you might not earn rewards or interest, this can be a good choice if you’re looking for convenience.

Visit Chase

7. Bank of America: Core Checking

Bank of America is another big institution offering banking perks for students. For qualifying students under the age of 24, you won’t pay a monthly maintenance fee on your Core Checking account.

With this bank, you gain access to the Keep the Change savings program, which allows you to save money using roundups from your checking account transactions.

Interest rate

  • Not an interest-bearing account

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees, as long as you’re a college student under 24 years of age
  • No minimum balance
  • Keep the Change savings program
  • Online bill pay
  • Remote check deposit
  • Compatible with Zelle for person-to-person money transfers

You can open a Core Checking account with a $25 minimum deposit, and you won’t have to worry about minimum balance requirements after that — as long as you’re a student and under 24. Otherwise, the monthly fee is $12, unless you meet other requirements.

Other fees you might incur with the Bank of America Core Checking account include:

  • Overdraft (when transferred from linked Bank of America account): $12 per transaction
  • Overdraft: $35 per item over $1.00
  • Returned item: $35 per item over $1.00
  • Returned deposit: $12 per item
  • ATM service fee: $2.50 at ATMs not owned or operated by Bank of America

In order to avoid overdraft fees, it makes sense to ensure you have money in the account. You can reduce the fees you pay by opening a linked account or line of credit.

Bank of America doesn’t offer a lot of perks, or interest, but you can access thousands of ATMs and branches across the country. That could make banking more convenient for you.

Visit Bank of America

8. KeyBank: Student Checking

If you’re between 16 and 24, this account can help you learn the basics of money management. KeyBank offers a financial wellness tool, on top of providing you with access to a number of features:

Interest rates

  • Not an interest-bearing account

Other features

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $5
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • Compatible with Zelle for person-to-person money transfers

KeyBank has ATMs you can use fee-free, plus a $6 monthly reimbursement for fees you incur at other ATMs.

In order to open this account, you need a minimum deposit of $50. After that, there’s no minimum balance requirement. There’s a monthly fee, but you can easily avoid it by making five transactions a month, or depositing at least $200 a month into the account.

Some of the other fees include:

  • Overdraft: $34 per transaction (up to five per day)
  • NSF item: $32 per item
  • Returned deposit: $15 per item

You can avoid the steep overdraft fees by connecting a savings account or line of credit to your checking account. You’ll have to pay a $10 transfer fee, but it’s a much smaller cost than paying the regular overdraft.

For students looking for a basic account with some flexibility and access to a fairly extensive network with brick-and-mortar locations, this might be a good choice.

Visit Keybank

9. U.S. Bank: Student Checking

Another nationwide bank with access to in-person banking and online banking is U.S. Bank. This is one of the best checking accounts for college students because it’s flexible and offers a few perks for first-time bank account holders.

Interest rate

  • Not an interest-bearing account

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Online bill pay
  • First box of checks is free
  • Compatible with Zelle for person-to-person money transfers

You won’t pay a fee at U.S. Bank ATMs or ATMs that are part of the MoneyPass network.

You do need a $25 minimum deposit to open your U.S. Bank Student Checking account. Once you’ve opened your account, though, you don’t have to worry about a minimum balance.

Fees you might have to pay include:

  • Overdraft: $12.50 per transaction from a linked account
  • Overdraft: $36 per item over $5
  • Returned item: $36 per item over $5
  • Returned deposit: $19 per item
  • ATM service fee: $2.50 at out-of-network ATMs

Overdraft fees are best avoided by tracking your spending and making sure you have money in your account. U.S. Bank allows you to set low-balance text alerts so you can see when you get close to overdrawing your account.

With U.S. Bank, you can access branches across the country, which is a plus if you want to be able to go in and talk to someone face-to-face.

Visit U.S. Bank

10. PNC: Virtual Wallet Student

You can get access to the PNC Virtual Wallet Student, which can help you manage your money more effectively. Virtual Wallet Student is heavy on financial education tools and even comes with a parent alert system.

If you open and use a new PNC Virtual Wallet product, you might be eligible for a cash bonus.

Interest rate

  • Not an interest-bearing account

Other features

  • No monthly maintenance fees, as long as you’re a student (up to six years)
  • No minimum balance
  • Remote check deposit
  • Compatible with Zelle for person-to-person money transfers
  • Online bill pay

You also get free use of PNC ATMs, plus access to other perks.

If you’re opening an account online, you don’t need to worry about a minimum deposit. However, when you open an account at a brick-and-mortar branch, you need $25 to make it happen.

Each PNC Virtual Wallet Student comes with three accounts: Spend, Reserve, Growth. While you won’t earn interest on the Spend portion, you might get interest on the Reserve and Growth portions.

Potential fees include:

  • Overdraft: $36 per item
  • Returned item: $36 per item
  • ATM service fee: $3 at non-PNC Bank ATMs

When money is automatically transferred from a Growth or Reserve account, you don’t need to worry about overdraft fees. Plus, you get one courtesy overdraft fee refund when on your first overdraft within 12 months of opening. This can give you a bit of breathing room while you’re learning to manage your money.

PNC Virtual Wallet Student offers educational tools and a few perks, making it one of the best checking accounts for college students, especially if you’re looking for a little flexibility.

Visit PNC

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to these banking products. None of the financial institutions mentioned have provided or reviewed the information shared in this article. Listed fees are subject to change over time and across different locations. All information is accurate as of Aug. 30, 2018.

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1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount.  The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Auto Reward Debit Reward Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.
  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.50% as of July 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates for more information about interest rates.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).

  1.  Rates are as of July 1, 2019 and include auto-pay discount. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

Citizens Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.80%. Variable interest rates range from 2.90% – 11.16% (2.90% – 11.01% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Citizens Bank Student Loan Eligibility: Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution. Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or an international borrower/eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For borrowers who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank- participating school. 

Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.

2.84%
10.97%
1
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

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3.12% – 10.54%*,2Undergraduate and Graduate

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3.37%
11.87%
3
Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

3.52% – 9.50%4Undergraduate and Graduate

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2.90% – 11.16%5Undergraduate and Graduate

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Published in Bank Accounts, Personal Finance

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