Best Student Bank Accounts

These best banks for student accounts offer stellar services for teens in school

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Although they don't work full-time, students often need their own bank accounts. College kids benefit from becoming account-holders, especially if they are getting financial aid or loans, and even high schoolers can use them. Recognizing this, many financial institutions offer accounts specifically geared toward students. 

Student bank accounts often have the same basic structure as the institution's typical offerings, but they reflect the fact that students have relatively small income, and are just learning money management and how to navigate their financial lives. That's why student accounts may waive maintenance fees or minimum balances, offer free ATM withdrawals, or even provide apps or programs to help a newbie create a budget. Student accounts are generally available to anyone who is enrolled in school full-time, although some accounts are age-limited as well.

Deciding where to bank can make a big difference, since the right account will offer students the flexibility, convenience, and affordability they need to keep their mind on their studies, rather than worrying about fees and other financial details. So how do you find the right student account for your needs? To get you started, we have compiled a list of the best student bank accounts so you can find the right fit. 

Best Student Bank Accounts

  • Chase Bank College Checking Account: Best Overall
  • Capital One 360 MONEY Account: Best For High School Students
  • Bank of America Advantage Banking: Best For Encouraging Saving
  • Discover Cashback Debit Account: Best Fee-Free Account
  • PNC Virtual Wallet Student Account: Best For Creating a Budget
  • BB&T Student Checking Account: Best Mobile App
  • U.S. Bank Student Checking Account: Best On-Campus Banking Experience

Chase Bank College Checking Account: Best Overall

Chase

The Chase Bank College Checking Account offers all the features a student needs for banking. For college students between the ages of 17 and 24, the Chase College Checking Account has no monthly service fee until after graduation (up to five years after opening the account). There is no minimum deposit to open the account. Chase offers a sign-on bonus of $100: To qualify, you must enroll in paperless statements and make ten qualifying transactions (including direct deposit, debit card purchases, and online bill payments) within 60 days of opening the account.

Chase’s huge network of 5,100 branches and 16,000 ATMs nationwide add to its appeal. Students going to school out-of-state may be able to access their student account on campus and from home with Chase, and they can feel confident about finding at Chase ATM to avoid any fees. However, despite Chase’s enormous footprint, there are no branches in Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Vermont.

Pros
  • $100 sign up bonus

  • Eligibility up to age 24

Cons
  • Monthly service fee (after graduation)

  • Overdraft fees

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Interest: none
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: $0 monthly fee while enrolled in college, $6 monthly service fee after graduation (waived with either direct deposit or average daily balance of $5,000)
    • Overdraft Fee: $34 per overdraft, with a cap of $102 in overdraft fees per day. Items charged for $5 or less and ATM withdrawals will not trigger the fee. You are also not charged the insufficient fund fee if your account balance by the end of the business day is overdrawn by $5 or less.
    • ATM Fee: $2.50 for non-Chase ATM transactions
  • Accessibility:
    • 5,100 branches 
    • 16,000 ATMs

Capital One 360 MONEY Account: Best For High School Students

Capital One

The Capital One 360 MONEY account is an excellent option for students under the age of 18 (in fact, they can be as young as 8 years old). There are no monthly fees or minimum balances, and teens also receive a fee-free debit card in their name. With more than 39,000 Allpoint ATMs in the Capital One 360 network, teen account-holders can access their cash all over. Best of all, the account offers 0.20% APY on all balances, so high school students can learn the benefits of saving.

Parents are joint owners on the account and can view transaction information and receive text alerts about the account. They can also link their own bank account (even if it's not with Capital One) to the MONEY account and transfer a recurring allowance or one-time amount.

This account is only for teens under 18. That means those newly minted 18-year-olds will need to close their account, although they will have the option of opening their own Capital One 360 Checking account and transferring their balance into it. Also, MONEY accounts are paper-free, so there are no checks available.

Pros
  • Takes account-holders as young as 8

  • Earns interest

Cons
  • Only available for those under 18

  • Paper-free, so no checks

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Interest: 0.20% APY
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: $0
    • Overdraft Fee: $0 with Auto-Decline or Free Savings Transfer (with linked savings account).
    • ATM Fee: $0
  • Accessibility:
    • 755 branches 
    • 39,000 ATMs nationwide

Bank of America Advantage Banking: Best For Encouraging Saving

Bank of America

Bank of America’s Advantage Banking program is a general checking account that offers a student waiver of the monthly maintenance fee for any student under the age of 24 (including high school, university, and vocational programs). Depending on whether you choose the Advantage SafeBalance or Advantage Plus version of the account, there is a minimum deposit of $25 or $100, respectively, to open the account.

The Advantage SafeBalance account is checkless, but it is also set up so that it cannot overdraft.

Having an Advantage Banking account also means you get access to BofA’s Keep the Change program, which rounds up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits it in savings. Between this perk, the customizable account alerts for email and text, and the interactive Spending and Budgeting tool that will allow you to track your spending and other financial habits and create a budget, this account is especially beneficial for beginning savers.

You can also hang onto it after you graduate, or turn 24. However, then you will have to pay the monthly maintenance fees, and these fees are somewhat high: $4.95 per month for SafeBalance and $12 per month for Advantage Plus.

Pros
  • Interactive spending and budgeting tools, including roundup and deposit of debit-card purchases “spare change”

  • Account continues after graduation

  • Automatic overdraft protection

Cons
  • Required minimum deposit of as much as $100

  • High maintenance fees upon graduating or reaching age 24

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $25 for Advantage SafeBalance and $100 for Advantage Plus
  • Interest: None
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: waived for students under age 24 (normally $4.95 per month for Advantage SafeBalance and $12 per month for Advantage Plus) 
    • Overdraft Fee: $0 for Advantage SafeBalance, $35 for each overdraft over $1
    • ATM Fee: $2.50 for Non-Bank of America ATM transactions
  • Accessibility:
    • 4,900 branches
    • 16,000 ATMs

Discover Cashback Debit Account: Best Fee-Free Account

Discover

While the Discover Cashback Debit Account isn’t specifically created for students, it’s an excellent option for anyone 18 or older who wants all the perks of a student account, plus a debit card. This account has no monthly fee, minimum deposit, overdraft fee, or ATM fee, all of which you can continue to enjoy even after leaving school. Another big draw is the 1% cash back that you can earn on up to $3,000 in monthly debit card purchases, which generates up to $360 in cash back per year.

Discover’s other perks include free checks, free online bill pay and ACH payments, and free replacement debit cards. Discover also partners with the Allpoint ATM network, giving you free access to more than 60,000 ATMs nationwide. However, there are no physical branches you can visit, which means any problems will be handled via phone or online customer service. You must make deposits through an online transfer from another account, through direct deposit, mobile check deposit, or via mail.

Pros
  • Free checks, replacement debit cards

  • No maintenance, overdraft or ATM fees

  • 1% cash back on debit card purchases

Cons
  • Not specifically geared to students

  • No physical branches

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $0
  • Interest: none
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: $0 monthly fee 
    • Overdraft Fee: $0—no charge for overdrafts or insufficient funds. You may sign up for their free overdraft protection if you have another deposit account with Discover. This protection will cover the insufficient funds in your cashback debit account and prevent the transaction from being declined.
    • ATM Fee: $0
  • Accessibility:
    • No physical branches
    • 60,000 ATMs nationwide

PNC Virtual Wallet Student Account: Best For Creating a Budget

PNC

The PNC Virtual Wallet Student Account has a $0 minimum deposit requirement and waives the monthly service fee for up to six years for actively enrolled students. Also, the PNC Virtual Wallet comes with three accounts: a primary checking account called Spend, an interest-bearing checking account called Reserve, and a long-term savings account called Growth. These accounts, their interactive mobile tools, and PNC’s online educational articles, all make it easy for a student to plan spending and saving, manage bills, and develop financial goals.

PNC also offers some unique perks, like an automatic courtesy refund of an overdraft fee on your first overdraft, one free incoming wire transfer per statement, and ATM fee reimbursement for any fees levied by other banks per statement period, up to $5. However, there is no check-writing available with this account.

Pros
  • Automatic courtesy refund of your first overdraft fee

  • Earn interest (Reserve and Growth accounts)

Cons
  • $36 overdraft fee, which can be charged 4 times per day

  • Low interest rates

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $0 if opened online, otherwise the Spend account has a $25 minimum
  • Interest: Varies
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: $0 for six years of active enrollment in school
    • Overdraft Fee: $36 per overdraft, for a maximum of $144 per day. An overdraft fee is waived for the first overdraft incident. For ongoing coverage, you can sign up for free Overdraft Protection, which links your Spend account to your Reserve and/or Growth account. 
    • ATM Fee: $3 for non-PNC ATM transactions
  • Accessibility:
    • 2,400 branches 
    • 15,000 ATMs

BB&T Student Checking Account: Best Mobile App

BB&T

Geared toward students ages 23 and younger, the BB&T Student Checking Account has some useful features overall (see below), but what makes it shine in this category is the U by BB&T mobile app.

State-of-the-art and easy-to-use, the app allows you to customize your dashboard with whatever is most important to you, from checking your credit score to paying bills. You also can set savings and spending goals, pay friends with Zelle, store and attach receipts, and even connect with a personal banker, all from your phone. The app currently ranks #105 in Finance apps on the iTunes App Store with 4.8 stars, and has a 4.7 user rating on Google Play.

With no minimum deposit, no monthly fee, no direct deposit requirements, it's inexpensive to keep your funds in this account. Also, BB&T waives the fee associated with non-BB&T ATM transactions two times per statement cycle, although you will not be reimbursed for the other bank's fee. Though the account is fee-free, overdraft fees tend to be high, although you can opt-out of Overdraft Review to avoid them.

Unfortunately, BB&T is currently available in only 15 states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. However, BB&T has recently merged with SunTrust—the new entity is named Truist—which will expand its geographic footprint.

Pros
  • No direct deposit requirements

  • Non-BB&T ATM fees waived twice per month

Cons
  • Confusing overdraft protection options

  • $36 overdraft fee, which can be charged 6 times per day

  • Only available in 15 states

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $0 
  • Interest: None
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: $0 
    • Overdraft Fee: $36 per overdraft, for a maximum of $216 per day. You may opt out of Overdraft Review, which means your transaction will be declined, and you will not pay the $36 fee. If your account is overdrawn by $5 or less, BB&T will waive any overdraft fees. You may also sign up for Overdraft Protection, which requires you to link an account to cover overdrafts, but you will pay a $12.50 overdraft transfer fee per transfer. BB&T will waive the overdraft transfer fee for any transfer amounts under $5.
    • ATM Fee: $3.00 for Non-BB&T ATM transactions. This fee is waived twice per statement cycle
  • Accessibility:
    • More than 1,700 branches in 15 states
    • 15,000 ATMs nationwide

U.S. Bank Student Checking Account: Best On-Campus Banking Experience

US Bank

For students attending one of the 59 schools in 16 states (mainly the West and South) using the U.S. Bank campus banking program, the U.S. Bank Student Checking Account is an optimal choice. On many of these campuses, you will be able to link your student ID with your checking account and use the ID at ATMs and for PIN purchases. You will also have access to financial education for students through the campus banking program to help you manage your money.

However, you do not have to attend one of the affiliated schools to open a U.S. Bank Student Checking Account. And there are several appealing reasons to do so, starting with the $0 monthly maintenance fee it offers and the U.S. Bank Visa debit card it comes with. Equipped with more than 3,100 branches and over 4,800 ATMs, U.S. Bank offers student accounts full access to the same suite of tools enjoyed by non-student accounts, including online and mobile banking, no-fee transactions at U.S. Bank ATMs, mobile check deposit, and payments with Zelle. You also get the ATM fee waived for your first four non-U.S. Bank ATM transactions per statement period, and your first order of checks is free.

Pros
  • Non-U.S. Bank ATM fees waived four per month

  • On-campus banking program turns student ID into debit card

  • First order of checks are free

Cons
  • $36 overdraft fee, which can be charged four times per day

  • On-campus program in only 16 states

Other important information:

  • Minimum deposit: $25 
  • Interest: None
  • Fees:
    • Monthly Fees: $0 
    • Overdraft Fee: $36 per overdraft more than $5.01, for a maximum of $144 per day. You may opt-out of overdraft coverage, which means your transaction will be declined and you will not pay the $36 fee. 
    • ATM Fee: $2.50 for Non-U.S. Bank ATM transactions. This fee is waived four times per statement cycle.
  • Accessibility:
    • More than 3,100 branches
    • More than 4,800 ATMs

What Are The Benefits of a Student Bank Account?

Bank accounts for students offer several important benefits. To start, they have lower minimum deposit requirements, making them easier to open (and keep open). The majority of student accounts waive monthly maintenance fees; many also waive ATM fees and forgive overdrafts, reflecting the reality of an account-holder who doesn't have much disposable income to spare. Such perks allow young people to learn excellent money management skills without having small mistakes set them back. Finally, while many banks offer budgeting tools, apps, and educational content, these accounts take extra care to make these student-friendly features accessible (and heavily promote them) to their student account-holders, promoting financial literacy. 

How Do You Open a Student Bank Account?

Opening a student account is similar to opening a regular bank account; it just requires just a little more identification—primarily, proof of school enrollment. Whether you apply online or in person, expect to provide some or all of this information:

  • Valid student ID with a photo
  • School transcript
  • College acceptance letter

Also, as with any account, you'll need a government-issued ID (driver's license, passport), plus your Social Security number. 

Should You Open a Student Bank Account?

Not all students need to open a student bank account. Any student who has already established good financial habits with a regular checking account doesn't necessarily need one. However, the low cost of student bank accounts, plus their perks, makes them an attractive option for anyone who qualifies. Whether or not you need the financial guardrails provided by a student bank account, it's certainly beneficial to take advantage of waived fees and offered rewards.

What Happens To a Student Bank Account When You Graduate?

In most cases, banks will automatically convert your student account into a standard account upon your graduation. Your bank will shift the account based upon your age, or based on the age of the account, or when you officially graduate. If you take more than four years to graduate, you may need to show your bank proof of your continued enrollment to maintain your student bank account.

Student bank accounts offer a low-fee option for high school and college students. The lack of monthly fees, the low minimum deposit requirements, and the offers to waive specific fees all help new account-holders learn the ropes of money management inexpensively. Having a student bank account allows students to keep their focus on their classes rather than jumping through banking hoops to keep their money safe.

Methodology

Research for this article includes evaluating banks that offering accounts geared explicitly toward students, or accounts that provide similar benefits to those geared toward students. The banks were compared based on fees, minimum deposits, and accessibility. The seven accounts considered to be the "best of" meet all of our requirements to be considered necessary for a student, but are, in particular, all widely available, low-cost, and provided by well-respected banking institutions.