As you enter college, your account with the Bank of Mom and Dad might not be as accessible as it once was. Getting a student checking account can help you learn how to manage your money and gain a little independence while you’re at it.
The best student checking accounts make it easy to keep your costs down and give you resources to establish your financial life as an adult. Here are the top three options.
At a glance: The best student checking accounts
|Capital One MONEY||Best free student checking account|
|U.S. Bank Student Checking||Best for branch access|
|PNC Virtual Wallet Student||Best money management tools|
Capital One MONEY
Some student checking accounts are regular checking accounts with some or all of the monthly fees waived.
Once you graduate or reach a certain age, you’re faced with paying fees, finding ways to get fees waived, or switching to a free checking account.
With the Capital One MONEY account, there are no monthly fees — ever. Here are some other features:
- You get free withdrawals from over 39,000 ATMs in the Allpoint network.
- You earn a 0.25% APY on your balance; that’s more than five times the national average, according to October 2017 data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
- There are no foreign transaction fees.
- You have options for free overdraft coverage, including a transfer from savings and a grace period that gives you a full business day to get your account out of the negative before a $35 fee hits.
The main drawback to the MONEY account is that it must be a joint account, usually with a parent or guardian. That means your parent has access to your account and can monitor your spending.
Also, Capital One has branches in the following states only:
- The District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
So if you want a bank with local branches and don’t live in one of those states, you’re out of luck.
U.S. Bank Student Checking
The U.S. Bank Student Checking account also has no monthly fees — if you opt out of paper statements, which cost $2 per month.
One of the account’s shining features is its ATM fee waiver. U.S. Bank won’t charge a fee on up to four transactions with non-U.S. Bank ATMs per statement period. Keep in mind, however, that the bank that owns the out-of-network ATM might charge a fee.
That said, U.S. Bank belongs to the MoneyPass ATM network. With access to more than 25,000 ATMs nationwide, you might not have a problem finding one nearby.
Here are some other features that make the account appealing:
- Your first order of personal checks is free, which is especially helpful if your landlord takes only checks.
- You get access to Spend Analysis, a tool that lets you view and evaluate your spending on a monthly, quarterly, year-to-date, or annual basis.
- There are branches in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
One thing to watch out for with the U.S. Bank Student Checking account is its overdraft fee. If you overdraw your account by more than $5, you’ll pay $36 for each transaction over that amount while your account is negative. There’s no fee, however, for transactions of $5 or less.
PNC Virtual Wallet Student
As long as you’re an active student, PNC will waive your monthly fee on its Virtual Wallet Student account for up to six years.
You’ll also get free ATM withdrawals from more than 9,000 PNC ATMs. The account comes with other extra features specifically for students:
- The Spending Zone helps you track your spending by categorizing your transactions.
- You and your parents can get an alert when your account is running low, which is especially helpful if they’re helping cover your expenses while you’re in school.
- You can get a university-branded debit card. Check out the options on the PNC website.
PNC charges a $36 overdraft fee per item unless you opt to replenish the account with a transfer from savings. However, you’ll get a courtesy refund of your first overdraft charge within the first 12 months after you open your account.
You’ll also get any overdraft fees incurred on a specific day refunded if your account is overdrawn by $5 or less at the end of that day.
Like Capital One, PNC has limited branch coverage. The bank currently has branches and ATMs in the following states:
- The District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Which student checking account should you choose?
Before you open up a new bank account, thoroughly research and consider all your student checking account options. There’s no one account that’s best for everyone, so you’ll want to consider how you plan to use yours.
For example, if you want easy access to a branch, U.S. Bank has the largest branch network. If, however, you want the account with the cheapest fee options, the Capital One MONEY account is for you.
Regardless of which account you choose, the most important thing is that you have a plan for your money, and getting the right student checking account is the first step.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.36% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.82% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.41% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.45% effective May 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.41% – 6.99%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 7.89%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.38% – 6.81%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.41% – 8.19%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.60% – 9.60%6||Undergrad & Graduate|