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Best Student Checking Accounts

10 November 2015 No Comment

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Courtesy of WalletHub

While back-to-school spending is on the decline, the overall cost of education and the difficulties inherent to newfound financial freedom remain as daunting as ever. In addition to a healthy dose of financial literacy education, college students require – at a minimum – a pair of fundamental financial tools to confront these monetary realities.

They are, of course, a checking account and a credit card. Credit cards are the cheapest and most-accessible way for people to improve their credit scores, and credit card companies offer great deals to students since they have high earning potential. But you can’t pay for everything with plastic, not to mention accept a paycheck, and learning the ABCs of everyday banking is also critical to preparing for the myriad monthly bills that you’ll confront after graduation.

In order to help you identify the right checking account to use, whether it’s your first or you’re looking for an upgrade, we compared over 550 offers for which students are eligible – including student-branded, general-consumer and online-only accounts. WalletHub evaluated each based on its fees, rates and features, and made recommendations for college students with varying types of financial needs.

To see the list, visit: WalletHub.

Student Checking Tips

Finding the right checking account is only part of the everyday banking battle for college students. Using the account responsibly and minimizing unnecessary fees are also extremely important. With that in mind, WalletHub’s editors have shared some of their favorite tips for checking account beginners.

Prioritize Convenience: Choose a bank with ATMs or branches close both to campus and home to save time and money. If there’s ever an emergency, your parents can come to your rescue quickly and easily.

Avoid Minimum Balance Requirements: Look for a checking account that doesn’t charge a fee when your balance drops below a certain balance. Even if your account doesn’t charge a monthly fee when your balance is above a specific amount, dipping below your balance still can cost a pretty penny.

Find Free Staying Power: The transition from student life to professional life can be rather difficult for many newly-grads. Give yourself some breathing room by selecting a checking account that stays “free” for up to a year after you graduate, buying you time to build a solid financial foundation.

Learn How To Avoid Overdrafts: Make sure you understand the charges associated with your checking account, especially the overdraft and insufficient funds fees. These tend to be the most complex and most damaging fees in the checking account market. Banks will not only penalize you for paying transactions on your behalf but also charge even if they decide not to cover the transactions. And if you’re feeling lucky because the bank chose to cover them, you’re not out of the woods yet. You could get hit with extended overdrafts starting the next day! At $5 or $6 per day — on top of the overdraft fee and covered transaction amount — these fees can pile up very high very fast.

Opt-In With Eyes Open: Although having the freedom to overdraw your account when using a debit card might seem like a good idea, beware of the charges attached to this service before opting in. Spending more than your balance while waiting for pending transactions to clear can cost you a hefty sum. Considering that the average overdraft charge is between $30 and $35, a couple slip-ups per month are more than enough to make a dent in your finances.

By: Contributing Author

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