Thursday, September 22, 2011

Save on Student Checking Accounts, Comparison, September 2011, coutesy of

I just heard on a podcast today that banks are trying to attract students with low-cost accounts, so I looked for more info, and found this. I know my daughter, who attends CSU, is still paying $6/month to Chase, and I see from the following that a) she shouldn't be, and b) she can do better if they won't fix it.

I hope this info can also help someone else.


Student Checking Accounts Comparison, September 2011

This article was written by in Banking. 15 comments.

As we head into summer, thousands of young adults will be heading to college for the first time. It's important to get started on the right financial foot, and a free student checking account is an essential 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 — and many adults can qualify if they are enrolled in courses at a college or university. 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.

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? Consumerism Commentary 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.

PerkStreet LogoPerkStreet Checking Account. Although PerkStreet's checking account isn't specifically titled for students, it is directed towards young adults. Unlike most large-bank checking accounts, PerkStreet offers no fees and great rewards. Account holders with an average balance of $5,000 will receive 2% cash back rewards for every non-PIN purchase using a PerkStreet debit card. The bank also provides 5% cash back for purchases from select merchants every month, but checking account holders can only earn a maximum of $250 each year using these merchants.

PerkStreet customers can opt to receive student-focused rewards like free music from iTunes and free coffee from Starbucks, but it's usually a better deal to choose to the cash back option. This checking account has no fees as long as customers make at least one transaction each month. PerkStreet is operated by Bancorp Bank, a publicly-traded company listed on NASDAQ (TBBK).

Open online or walk into a branch.

Wells Fargo Checking Package with Checking & Savings for College Students. The "College Combo" includes a checking account and a savings account, linked together. Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the country, thanks in part to its purchase of Wachovia. With the package, students will receive a Visa Platinum Debit Card, free online bill payment services, free account alerts, and the ability to access accounts online and with mobile devices. There is a $3 monthly fee for the checking account, but it is waived if you maintain a $500 average daily balance, set up a direct deposit, or sign up for a Campus ATM or Debit Card. The savings account for college students has a $5 monthly fee, but the fee is zero as long as the savings account is linked to the checking account in this package.

If you use a non-Wachovia ATM to access your account, Wachovia will charge you $2.50 per ATM transaction.

The minimum deposits required to open the "College Combo" at Wells Fargo is $100 for the College Checking account and $25 for the savings account if you set up a recurring transfer from checking to savings. You should set up a recurring transfer if you have regular income to ensure you're saving automatically. If you don't set up a recurring transfer, the minimum deposit required to open the savings account is $100.

Open online or walk into a branch.

Chase Student Checking. Chase Bank is also 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 the checking account adds to these features and reduces the fees. The Chase checking account for college students 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 you own the account or if you create an automatic deposit at least monthly.

Chase 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.

Open online or walk into a branch.

Bank of America Student Banking. 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.

There is no ongoing minimum balance, but there is a monthly fee of $8.95 and a minimum deposit of $25 to open. Customers can avoid that fee by choosing paperless statements and by avoiding stepping into a branch to bank with a teller. You'll need to use ATMs or electronic transfers for withdrawals and deposits.

Open online or walk into a branch.

Citibank Student Account. Citibank has one of the largest networks of ATMs thanks to their partnership with 7-Eleven convenience stores, a popular college destination to satisfy those cravings for Big-Gulps and Slurpees. For students, Citibank provides a checking account with no maintenance fees, unlimited check-writing, a debit card, free online banking and bill payment, and account alerts. Citi also provides ThankYou rewards if you're interested in linking Citi's other products to your checking account. As long as you are enrolled in college, you can visit any non-Citibank ATM without Citi charging a transaction fee, but the bank or ATM owner might still charge a fee.

You'll need a minimum deposit of $100 to open the account.

Open online or walk into a branch.

Your local community bank, regional bank, or credit union. These four banks are 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. Banks will continue to add fees, and as long as each major national banks 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, and credit unions hardly advertise at all.

Find a local bank or credit union using Move Your Money Project's search tool. 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.

Here is a list of more student checking accounts offered by national and regional banks. If you have a major national or regional bank to add to the table, leave a comment below.

Bank Monthly Fee Min. Initial Deposit / Min. Avg. Daily Balance Features
Bank of America Student Banking $8.95, waived with eBanking $25 debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts
Chase Student Checking $6.00, waived with automatic deposit $25 debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts
Citibank Student Account $0.00 $100 debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts, free checks
Fifth Third Student Checking $0.00 $1 mobile banking, alerts, free non-bank ATMs
PerkStreet Checking Account $0.00 $1 rewards debit card, mobile banking, alerts, free non-bank ATMs
TD Student $0.00 $1 debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts, free checks
US Bank Student Checking $0.00 $1 debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts, free non-bank ATMs, free checks
USAA Free Checking $0.00 $25 / $0 rewards debit card, mobile banking, free non-bank ATMs, free checks, remote deposit
Wells Fargo College Checking $5.00, waived with linked savings account $25 debit card, bill payment, mobile banking, alerts

Photo: Npetten

Published or updated September 8, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to theRSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @flexo on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

1 comment:

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