In a world where free checking is increasingly falling by the wayside, it can be discouraging to look for an account without service fees — especially if you are student who doesn’t expect to keep a high balance. Many financial institutions offer a student checking account, which can provide you with free checking, and possibly a bonus gift.
Opening a Student Checking Account
You will need the standard documentation and identification information necessary for opening most other checking accounts. Some banks and credit unions will allow those as young as 12 to open a student checking account (although, in many cases, minors will need to have a joint account with a legal guardian or parent). While not all financial institutions require proof of your student status, some might want to see your student ID card to verify that you are a student.
When you open your account, you will need to have an initial deposit. You can bring cash, or a check from another account. Some financial institutions will also arrange for an electronic transfer. You will need the routing number of the bank, and the checking account number of the account from which you are transferring the funds.
Benefits of a Student Checking Account
Most banks and credit unions offer some sort of promotion when you open a student checking account. This is especially common at the beginning of a new school year. However, you should be careful about the promotions; some checking account promotions require that you fulfill certain requirements before you receive the special bonus, whether it’s an iPad, a game system, or free cash. Make sure you understand the requirements before you commit.
Other benefits of student checking accounts include:
- Usually, there is no minimum balance requirement.
- There usually isn’t an activity requirement.
- You often get unlimited check writing privileges.
- Often, there are no monthly service fees.
- Free online bill pay and account access.
- Free paperless statements.
You do need to realize, though, that there might be some restrictions on a student account. You rarely get access to a rewards program when you have student checking, and you won’t have interest checking. Additionally, you might be limited on the amount of times you can visit the teller in a month. (The limit might be between two and four teller transactions.) More and more financial institutions are trying to encourage students to do most of their banking online, so you might not be able to get the face to face service that you might want. Also, if you choose to receive paper statements, you might be charged a fee with a student checking account.
Keeping Track of Your Finances
When you have any checking account, it is important to keep track of your finances. What you do now can affect your finances for years to come. Make sure to track your spending, and try to avoid overdrawing your account. Fees can be steep on any checking account when you have an overdraft. Make a budget, and stick to it to ensure that you have enough money in your checking account to cover your expenses.