Student Checking Accounts Made Simple
Opening a student checking account is a rite of passage for most college students. It means that you've started down the road towards financial independence. And although you may still have a way to go, there's really no better tool to help you along. A student checking account will help you keep an eye on your finances, manage your money, build a student budget, start to build your credit history and of course pay your bills.You'll even learn how to balance your checkbook and to save money.
The first step in opening a student checking account is to select your bank or other financial institution. For tips on selecting a bank, please see the Student Finance Domain student banking section. After selecting your bank, the process is simple. But before your run off to the bank with a pocket full of money, you should be armed with the right information about student checking accounts. Banks have been offering free checking accounts with no monthly service fee to students for years, but there are a number of additional features that have also become pretty standard practice. You should be on the lookout for the following when choosing an account:
- No minimum balance requirement
- Free ATM/check card
- Free ATM usage (at ATMs that belong to that financial institution)
- Free online checking account
- Free online eBill Pay
- Free direct deposit
Overdraft protection is another feature that you might want to consider. It's simply a safeguard against drawing too much money from your account accidentally, causing you to 'bounce a check.' When you bounce a check you will be required to pay fees, most likely to your payee and your bank, and you run the risk of damaging your credit. Overdraft protection comes in very handy, especially if you have irregular sources of income and want to do their best to manage your credit. In most cases, the way it works is that you have to open up a credit card account that will be attached to your checking account and tapped whenever overdraft protection is required.
One last thing to consider when setting up your account is interest. Because student checking accounts typically bear little to no interest, it might be best to keep some of your money in a student savings account and then transfer funds to your student checking account once a month to pay your bills. This will help you to maximize the interest you earn on your money, and it's simple to do if you open an online checking account and link that to an online student savings account. You will have 24/7 access to your money and banking history, and will be able to transfer funds, as well as use eBill Pay, all from the comfort of your dorm room. It's important to note that the federal government has instituted a limit on the number of online banking transfers an individual can make each month. Please check with your banking institution for more information about online fund transfers.