Banking Services for College Students

Banking Services for College Students

Follow these steps to find banks that suit your personal financial needs while in college.


Once you have a clear perspective of the account costs at different banks, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which bank to choose.

Now that you're off to college it's time to start your own banking services like checking and savings accounts. You'll need to open a checking account to make payments to the school for tuition; deposit paychecks if you get a job; and pay for other expenses like your books, food and entertainment costs.

However, there are many things to consider when you are planning your financial future and signing up to be a member at a particular bank. Follow the steps below to find the right banking services for you.

Step One: Determine What Type of Account You Want

If you will be making payments and receiving funds from a paycheck or from your parents, a personal checking account is essential. Many banks like Citibank, Wells Fargo and Chase offer student checking services. There are many banks to choose from and you should think about the following when deciding what type of bank account you need:

  • What will I use a checking account for?
  • Do I need a savings account too? Are there benefits to having both at the same bank?
  • Are there student accounts with discounts and special programs for people like me? (Check out this comparison of student checking accounts for more information.
  • Does the bank offer online banking and other helpful services to new customers for free?

The general rule of thumb for choosing a bank for a checking account is, choose a bank with a high interest rate for your balance of money and the lowest fees to have the account. You should also consider whether you want a local bank or an online one. If you get a part-time job while you're in school, having a nearby bank will be convenient for deposits, unless you can set up direct deposit. Online banks typically have the lowest fees, but if you need to mail in your paychecks, which can be a pain. However, some banks allow you to scan your checks for e-deposits on your smartphone. Be sure to explore all of the options.

If you do not plan on getting a job or making payments, consider just getting a savings account. Savings accounts have higher interest rates and are an easy option once you create an account.

Step Two: Compare Banks

Once you decide what type of accounts you need, check out how the banks near you differ. Consider the location, proximity to campus and convenience of ATMs. You should also compare the following at each bank:

  • What types of fees are associated with the checking accounts at my local banks?
  • Are there ATMs nearby so I can avoid extra charges for withdrawals and deposits?
  • How do the interest rates compare at the banks I'm considering?
  • How much are the overdraft fees?
  • How much are account minimum fees?

Once you have a clear perspective of the account costs at different banks, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which bank to choose.

Step Three: Create Your Account

Now that you've decided which bank you'd like to use, you must go to the bank (or register online if you're doing an online bank). Be sure to have your checks and/or money transfer documents with you, along with two forms of ID and if you have it, a record of your new address at your college. Many banks require a minimum balance. Make sure you have enough money with you to open the account.

When your account is set up, be sure to ask questions about how to manage your account online and confirm the information you gathered about fees and interest rates. Be sure to get the name and contact info of the person who helps you create your account in case you have more questions later. If you need to create a savings account and a checking account, you can create them at the same time, unless you decide to use another bank for your accounts.

Finally, be sure to track your purchases through your account online and use your debit card sparingly. Credit cards are often protected against fraudulent purchases, but debit cards have less protection. Check with you bank about what happens if your debit card is stolen. Knowing how to respond if there are incorrect charges to your account is very important.

If you're looking to learn how to set up a budget and manage your finances is a great resource that has a helpful app that will show you a breakdown of what you're spending and how you're managing your funds.

Quick Facts

  • Figure out what type of account you need.
  • Compare bank fees, interest rates and convenience.
  • Open an account and ask questions about managing your account before you leave the bank.

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