Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What should you look for in a student bank account?



Heading off to college is an exciting time in any young person's life, but it can also be stressful. With so many decisions to make regarding class schedules and dorm room d├ęcor, a student bank account may be the furthest thing from your mind.

College orientation weeks tend to feature credit card and bank representatives beckoning students to sign up for their financial services. Before you go with the bank dishing out the free gifts, look for one with better perks like a free overdraft.

Banks are going to entice college students into opening accounts because they view them as potential life-long customers.

Most students come to college never having held a separate account from their parents and those work-study funds have to be deposited somewhere.

Keep in mind that banks exist that offer free checking, convenient online banking, free savings and overdraft protection, all of which are better for students just learning how to manage finances on their own.

You need to choose a financial institution that has a convenient location.

A national or regional bank near the university will be best for easy withdrawals and deposits, but you also want to consider those emergency or regular care funds your parents want to send. Having a bank in their location as well as near the college will make it easier on everyone.

Make sure that ATMs are within a short distance of your university. Using another institution's ATM will rack up fees you don't want to pay. It's okay if your bank doesn't have an ATM on campus, as long as there's one within a short distance.

Although you may only be thinking about a student checking account at the moment, consider more long-term financial needs. Does the bank lend student loans? Do they offer online bill pay? Are credit cards available?

While you may be tempted to get customized checks featuring your college's mascot, remember that the plain checks serve the same purpose and are often free. Chances are you will be using a debit card more often anyway, so don't bother spending extra money having your school's name stamped at the corner.

Responsible students need to appreciate and utilize a savings account. If you plan to save money during college, consider a certificate of deposit (CD). These accrue higher interest and have to be left alone for a certain period of time, so you could open one during your freshman year and cash it in as a graduation gift to yourself. You can check out a full range of savings and current accounts at moneysupermarket.com.

Don't underestimate smaller regional banks and credit unions. These often provide better deals in regard to lower fees and higher interest rates than national banks and you may even find an on-campus credit union that caters specifically to students.

Set up your online bill pay early, preferably right after you open your brand new account, so you can learn how to pay your bills from the convenience of your dorm room.

If you're still unsure which bank to go with, ask around campus or talk to friends and roommates to get a better idea of where students on campus are banking.

No matter which type of account or bank you go with, be responsible with your funds and keep track of the amount of debt you accrue. You will probably be graduating with some amount of student debt as it is, so you don't want even more from credit cards and other loans.

Guest Post by MoneySuperMarket  

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