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5 Best Banks For Students In The United States

There are so many banks out there, but finding the best banks for students is key to be able to enjoy lots of benefits.

a list of best banks for students in the U.S.

You learn so much in life once you hit high school and college years. One of the things that you will surely not miss out learning is managing money. And of course, the best way to learn how to manage money is through banking.

Banks are everywhere. They are basically accessible to all. However, it is important that you choose the right bank for you.

Each bank is different from one another. They may have similar products and services, but if you take a look closely, they actually differ from one another.

Choosing the right bank saves you from paying huge fees, and lets you enjoy features that are essential to your day-to-day life as a student. Features such as free transfers, no minimum balance requirements, and more definitely have to be taken into account.

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Another thing that students should look into banks particularly to consider a bank among the best banks for students is its accessibility. As a student, you want less hassle, right? So having a “partner” bank that is easily accessible would really be great.

Banks play an important role in every student’s life. So much that there is such a thing as university-bank partnerships. In an article published by the U.S. News, it talked about a study, which was conducted by NerdWallet, wherein it showed that “student checking accounts at 10 of the largest banks could save students more than $110 each year. That extra cash comes from saving on ATM and monthly service fees.”

Furthermore, in the same article, it says that universities are so into promoting money management particularly saving on banks among its students that “several universities partnered with banks or credit unions to provide student checking accounts that are linked to student ID cards.

You see, whether you are a high school or a college student, a domestic or an international student, managing your finances while at the university is very important. More so, having a safe place to keep your money would be very beneficial.

Having said that, we are sharing with you some of the best banks for students that we specifically listed for you. Before heading out to the university, make sure to check these ones and choose the one that perfectly fits your needs and preferences.

AT A GLANCE

Before we proceed to discuss each bank on our list, here’s a quick glance first — for comparison purposes:

BANK NAME STUDENT ACCOUNTS ATM FEES AND CHARGES MOBILE BANKING
ALLY BANK Interest Checking Account (no specific student account) Allpoint ATM (55,000 locations) No monthly maintenance fees and charges Yes
CAPITAL ONE MONEY (Teen Checking Account) 39,000 through the Capital One and Allpoint networks No monthly fee Yes
CHASE Chase High School Checking (for students aged 13 to 17 years old); Chase College Checking (for students aged 17 to 24 years old) Almost 4,900 Chase-owned branches and 16,000 ATMs in the U.S. Potential fees (e.g. minimum opening balance is not maintained) Yes
CHIME All account type applies to all, nothing specific to students Chime’s ATM network Out-of-network ATM fee Yes
WELLS FARGO Student Checking Account, Student Savings Accounts 13,000 ATMs No monthly service fees Yes

If you want to know what is the best bank for college students (or even high school students for that matter), you may want to check this video by Financial Education first because proceeding to our list. Just click the play button below to start watching.

BEST BANKS FOR STUDENTS

So, now that you already have an idea about our list of best banks for students in 2020, let’s proceed to check each one of them, and see which one is ideal for you.

Disclaimer, this one is in alphabetical order. We are not listing them according to who’s the best among the bests. Got it? Let’s begin.

ALLY BANK

Ally Bank started out in 1919. Then, it was called GMAC, which was the finance arm of the popular automaker GM. The rebranding to what we know now as Ally Bank was done back in 2009.

Ally Bank is an online-only bank that offers competitive deposit accounts, and many other financial services.

Over the years in service, the bank has become one of the best banks regardless if you are a student or not.

Unlike some of the banks we listed, Ally does not have an account specific to students — as its grown-up accounts are equally ideal for students, which is actually good as the bank’s checking account will help students build good habits while they are young, which they can carry with them into adulthood.

Perhaps you are wondering what particular Ally product fits best among students. Well, the answer to that would be Ally Bank’s Interest Checking Account.

This particular account type does not have monthly maintenance fees and in fact, it charges hardly any fees at all. Definitely a great choice for students.

For this account type, you can use any Allpoint ATM for free, which you can find in 55,000 locations nationwide, or you may opt to use any ATM of your choice with up to $10 in fee reimbursements every month.

While you can do almost anything with this account type, unfortunately, depositing cash is not feasible, which is quite normal for any online account with no branches.

However, you can deposit a check using your smartphone.

What makes it even more ideal for students is the fact that you can transfer funds to or from any other bank account within the United States. At the same time, you can also send or receive money to or from family though Zelle, which is a U.S.-based digital payments network.

As of this writing, Ally Bank’s checking account pays 0.10 APY on balances of up to $15,000, while it pays out 0.60% for balances of more than $15,000.

Perhaps it’s not the best interest rate out there, but it definitely is well above the average as compared to large and traditional banks.

One more thing to like about this is — students can keep this account even after graduation.

Do you want to know more about Ally Bank? We made a review about this and you can access it HERE.

CAPITAL ONE

Established in 1994, currently, Capital One is among the ten largest banks by assets in the United States. While you may opt to use Capital One online, the bank comes with over 400 branches in six states.

Capital One offers a number of products and services, but Capital One 360 particularly offers a teen account called MONEY, which comes with a debit card and free access to 39,000 ATMs through the Capital One and Allpoint networks.

With MONEY, students need not worry about fees. Yes, it comes with no fees at all. It does not have a minimum balance requirement, and no monthly fees as well.

The teen checking account pays 0.25% interest. This is definitely not the best, but not the worst either.

Account-holders can access online banking, text alerts, mobile check deposits, as well as branch banking at a limited number of Capital One Cafes, which refers to Capital One’s bank and coffee shop in one.

Unlike other bank accounts, with Capital One’s MONEY, parents are given full access to the account, all its features except for the debit card. For some, this may nor work, but it actually is a great tool for parents to teach their children about good banking habits, as well as showing them how banking actually works.

CHASE

Chase Bank is a global banking powerhouse, a division of the famous JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Chase claims to serve almost half of the country’s population, which is not surprising as they have branches across the nation. More so, you can also work with Chase online.

Just like the others on our list, Chase caters to a lot of products and services.

However, there are two accounts that were specifically made to cater to younger consumers — particularly high school and college students.

Well, being one of the biggest banks in the world, it is not surprising that Chase does have a product for everyone.

What makes Chase included in our list of best banks for students is the fact that they offer Chase High School Checking for students aged 13 to 17 years old, and Chase College Checking for college students aged 17 to 24 years old.

Let’s take a look at each account —

  • Chase High School Checking – When opening a Chase High School Checking, the student must be accompanied by a parent or a guardian. For this account, there is a required minimum opening balance of $25. While a $6 monthly fee exists, you can avoid this by linking your account to a qualifying parent or guardian account, or you can make monthly direct deposits, or keep a minimum of $5,000 average ending day balance in the account.
  • Chase College Checking – You do not have to worry about monthly fees for five years for as long as you provide proof of college student statuses like your student identification card, transcript, or an acceptance letter when opening an account. No monthly fee is applicable for five years or while you are still in college. Once you have already graduated, you will need to maintain a direct deposit or keep a $5,000 average monthly balance to avoid the monthly fee, which also amounts to $6.

Because of the potential fees, these accounts may not be the best among our list. Nevertheless, it provides accessibility with a lot of branches around.

CHIME

Chime, which provides online-only spending and savings accounts, was launched in 2014 as an alternative to traditional banking.

Unlike other financial institutions in our list, Chime does not have physical branches or even ATMs of its own.

But, this does not mean the Chime is bad at all. In fact, as of December 2019, it has already gained a whopping 6.5 million customers from all over the country.

Anyway, so what makes Chime one of the best banks for students then?

What makes Chime as an ideal option for students is the fact that it has no fees, and it provides a mobile-first banking experience, which is very much accessible and easy for students to handle.

Just like the others on this list, Chime has no account specific to students as all its products are great for students and adults alike.

Chime provides its customers with amazing mobile banking experience, which includes mobile deposits, a quick view of recent transactions, and many other handy features.

Furthermore, we particularly find it ideal for students because Chime does not have overdraft fees, monthly fees, minimum balance fees, as well as foreign transaction fees (should students study abroad) which most banks charge for.

For working students, there is one cool feature that Chime provides that you will surely love — that is early access to direct deposits. Basically, when you get paid through direct deposits, your employer sends out a file to the banking system days prior to your scheduled payday. That means you can get your money up to two days earlier as compared to when transactions are made through traditional banks. Cool, right?

If you want to know more about Chime, we made a review on this right HERE.

WELLS FARGO

Wells Fargo has been in the banking industry for over 150 years already. Although headquartered in San Francisco, it has offices in 42 countries and territories and offers a huge number of ATMs. No wonder why it is tagged as the biggest bank in the United States.

Wells Fargo, a community-based financial institution, offers various products and services which include banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, consumer and commercial financial services.

Its flagship, Student Checking, and Student Savings accounts were specifically made to cater to the needs of young people — particularly, as the name suggests, the students.

The Student Checking account was designed for college students. And because it is for college students, Wells Fargo does not charge any monthly service fee. However, the account requires a minimum opening deposit amounting to $25.

We know of Wells Fargo’s not-so-good record because of a major scandal involving opening tons of bank accounts without the authorization of the owners. However, we had to include them on our list because they have the biggest number of branches, and also because the student accounts seem to be really promising.

Worth a second chance perhaps?

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR STUDENTS

Now that we already have shared with you our list of best banks for students, we thought it is just right that we also give you a couple of tips when finding a bank account for students.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, students must choose a bank account as soon as possible. Preferably, before you even start schooling.

Apart from just knowing the best banks for students, it is also important that you know exactly what to look for in a bank account.

When choosing a bank account, you need to look into the features, and see which ones you need, and then compare it to at least a few other bank accounts from financial institutions both on and off the campus.

Some of the features that you need to look into in a bank account are as follows:

  • A low or no minimum balance requirement at all
  • A low or (ideally) no monthly account maintenance fee
  • A higher rate paid on deposits
  • Easy-to-use online banking
  • A full-featured mobile banking app
  • Branches located near where you plan to live or work while studying
  • Branches located on or near the university where you are planning to study

It is important to note that as a student consumer, you should not limit your options to banks or credit unions that have ATMs on or near your campus. After all many banks and credit unions today are part of ATM networks or in other cases, will offer reimbursement for some or all of the fees incurred when using other banks’ ATMs.

A smarter way to choose the best bank account is by looking into what we have provided above. The more benefits you get, the better. As a student, you do not need charges and fees. You need a bank account that will spare you from those, and let you save money even more.

The best bank account is a student-centered bank account, which, to us, means, you should not be charged for anything because after all, you are not earning money yet or if you do, you are earning just enough to cover a few of your school expenses. Paying fees and charges is the last thing you want in a bank account, right?

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST BANKS FOR STUDENTS

While we have provided you with our top five best banks for students, know that there are actually a lot of banks out there to choose from. To be honest, it’s hard to push for choosing only from what’s on our list because, at the end of the day, there are other factors that need to be taken into consideration (e.g. location), which is why we provided tips on what to look for in bank accounts.

As we mentioned earlier, there are several factors that can make a bank the best particularly for students. For us, though, there are three major factors that should be considered when choosing a bank or a bank account for students. These are — accessibility (ATMs, physical branches, mobile banking), no fees and charges, and no minimum balance required.

So, have you found your best bank for a student yet?

Finding the best banks for students is key to be able to take advantage of the benefits, and to ensure that as young as you are, you get to learn the basics of financial management, which you can carry with you as you grow old.

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