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6 Best Banks for College Students

Many financial institutions cater to college students by offering bank accounts. Some are fantastic, and others aren't.

When shopping for a new banking program as a college student, search for accounts that have no or easily avoided monthly fees, decent overdraft plans, fair interest rates, large ATM networks, and online banking (whether or not they are exclusively for students). The accounts offered by the following organizations have one or several of those functions.

Alliant Credit Union

Alliant is a credit union that welcomes everybody and offers excellent accounts long after you've graduated.

Monthly fee: Alliant doesn't charge an annual fee on any of its bank accounts, and its regular savings account has a fee that's easy to skip (just select e-statements).

Overdraft policy: Overdraft security transactions are free at Alliant. If you do have an overdraft, the fee is marginally less than the national average.

Interest rates: Alliant offers a favorable interest rate on its regular savings account. Its free checking account pays no interest, but its High Rate Checking account does, and qualifying for the best rate is simple: Simply opt for e-statements and make at least one monthly electronic deposit.

ATM accessibility: More than 80,000 charge-free ATMs and up to $20 in out-of-network ATM fee rebates each month.

Branch accessibility: The public is welcome to visit Alliant's headquarters in the Chicago area. If you don't live by a branch, you'll have to bank online, but signing up is easy. Simply show your love for a participating charity, and Alliant will donate on your behalf.

Ally Bank

Ally Bank is a solid online bank with low interest rates and no recurring payments. 

Monthly fee: On checking and savings accounts, Ally does not charge a monthly fee. 

Overdraft policy: Overdraft deposits are free at the bank. That ensures if you spend more than your checking account balance, Ally will automatically withdraw funds from a related savings account to cover the gap. You could be charged a $25 overdraft fee up to once per day if your savings don't afford it.

Interest rates: The interest rates are competitive, particularly for savings accounts.

ATM accessibility: 43,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide.

Branch accessibility: You'll have to complete all of your banking activities on your machine or smart device since it's an online bank.

Capital One 360

Capital One 360 is a fee-free online bank with favorable interest rates and in-person assistance at select locations.

Monthly fees: Capital One 360's checking and deposit accounts are free of recurring payments.

Overdraft policy: Capital One 360's automatic overdraft strategy is to deny debit transactions if you don't have enough funds to fund them. This costs you nothing. You can sign up for an overdraft program, but if you use it, you'll be fined $35.

Interest rates: Capital One 360's checking and deposit accounts have attractive interest rates.

ATM access: There are 39,000 Capital One and Allpoint ATMs around the country that are fee-free. You won't be charged by the bank if you use an out-of-network ATM, but the ATM owner can.

Discover Bank

Discover Bank doesn't have any offerings specifically designed for students, but its rewarding checking and savings accounts are suitable for people of all ages.

Monthly fee: There are no annual fees on checking or deposit accounts.

Overdraft policy: There are no insufficient funds or overdraft fees for Discover's checking, savings and money market accounts.

Interest rates: Discover’s savings account pays a competitive rate. Its checking account doesn’t pay interest, but it does offer 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit spending each month.

ATM accessibility: More than 60,000 fee-free ATMs across the country.

Branch accessibility: Discover is an online bank, but its customer service agents are available by phone 24 hours a day.

Branch access: Capital One 360 is the online subsidiary of Capital One, but you can access services at Capital One branches, as well as at Capital One 360’s Cafes.

Golden 1 Credit Union

Golden 1 Credit Union’s Student Checking account, for college students 17 and older, has no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements.

Monthly fee: No monthly fees for its student checking or regular savings accounts.

Overdraft policy: Golden 1 will simply reject debit card and ATM withdrawals if you do not sign in to an overdraft scheme.

They can, though, charge you a fee if checks and automated bill transfers are processed without a proper balance.

Interest rates: Rates aren't as low as they are at certain online banks, but they aren't as bad.

ATM accessibility: There are 30,000 fee-free ATMs around the country, as well as a complimentary box of checks.

Branch accessibility: While Golden 1 is located in California, it is simple to enter even if you reside or attend school in another state. You should contact the Financial Fitness Association, a non-profit that promotes personal finance literacy, to become eligible. It costs $8 to enter.

TD Bank

When dealing with banking problems, it's also easier to step into a branch and speak with a real person. TD Bank doesn't have the highest interest rates, but it does have over 1,200 branches along the East Coast and offers a free student checking account.

Monthly fee: There is no monthly charge on the student checking account, and if you keep a $300 minimum daily balance in Simple Savings, you will skip the $5 fee.

Overdraft policy: Overdraft transactions to replenish a drained checking account are free for students, however you may be paid regular overdraft fees if you overdraw the usable balance. TD Bank can reject debit card and ATM purchases at no charge if you adhere to the default option.

Interest rates: TD Bank does not offer attractive interest rates.

ATM accessibility: There are over 1,900 ATMs in the TD Bank network.

Branch accessibility: Along the East Coast, there are over 1,200 locations.


Keep it cheap

If you're a college student, you're probably strapped for cash. Avoid fees as much as possible, particularly overdraft fees, which are costly, and adults aged 18 to 25 have the highest rate of overdrafts of any age group.

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