College students probably don’t spend too much time thinking about their finances. They swipe their debit or credit card, get a receipt, and move on their way. Money comes out of their account, but they rarely even see the cash.
This is both good and bad. On the one hand, students spend their time thinking about other more important things like tests, papers, and homework. On the other hand, if they don’t pay any attention to their personal finances while in college, they can end up with some pretty big problems on their hands.
Not thinking about money can get college students in trouble. If they don’t spend at least some time thinking about their personal finances, they’ll be setting themselves up for an unstable financial future. They could also be wasting an opportunity to save money and build good credit.
The first thing college students need to do is make sure their money is in the right hands by comparing banks and accounts before making a decision. Knowing what to look for in a personal checking account will save time and save from worrying about the financial future. Some elements to consider:
No maintenance fees: For college students, finding a checking account with no monthly or annual maintenance fee is incredibly important. These types of fees just drain the account, and there is typically not much in there to start with.
No minimum balance requirement: Most college students are cash-strapped and typically don’t carry high balances in a bank account. To pay a fee if a balance dips below a particular threshold is the equivalent of throwing the money out the window. Make sure the account has no minimum balance requirement.
Access to a debit card: At the bare minimum, make sure the account comes with a debit card that offers no transaction or usage fees. If the debit card can double as an ATM card, even better.
Waive/Reimburse ATM fees: Considering college students visit ATMs on campus, around town, in their hometown, and away on spring break, flexibility is important. If using an out-of-network ATM, be sure any fees will be waived or reimbursed.
Earn interest: Maybe not as important as some of the other features, but anyone can benefit from earning interest on a bank account, even if it’s just a few pennies. In addition, watching the balance grow helps reinforce the concept of compounding interest.
It’s difficult enough just being a college student, and they don’t want to spend their time thinking about personal finances. Finding the right bank with the right checking account that works for a college student will give them comfort and peace of mind.