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Establish a Checking or Share Draft Account

Unlike that first school ID photo, your first banking relationship could last long after you graduate. Making a smart decision now will mean fewer surprise fees that can add up later.

Choose an account as soon as possible – you should try to find one before you start school.

Once you have an account, sign up for direct deposit with your school before classes start. If you are expecting money from your financial aid office, you’ll often get it faster this way – it can be weeks before the school gets to writing you a paper check.

Choosing an account

What you need to know

Shop around, and don’t feel limited to only financial institutions that have ATMs on or near campus; some will automatically reimburse fees for using any ATM. Consider accounts that offer services like remote check deposits, mobile apps, and online bill-pay.

Keep in mind

Dig deeper when accounts are marketed as “free” or “easy” – very few accounts charge no fees at all.
Signing up for an account now can save you headaches later, and researching accounts with the lowest fees can save you money.

You have many bank accounts options. Here are three possibilities and key factors to compare when making your decision.

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Graphic about information on different types of accounts - text equivalent also provided  

 
Category Virtual checking account Student checking account School-affiliated banking services
How it works Some financial institutions provide exclusively online banking services that are comparable to a traditional checking account Some financial institutions offer student checking accounts with discounted fees to establish long term relationships with new customers Many colleges have a financial institution they partner with to offer students campus affiliated checking accounts or prepaid debit cards
Benefits May waive or reimburse ATM fees, even those for out-of-network ATMs
Often include online banking and bill-pay
Often have mobile apps for things like remote check deposit
Often won’t let you overdraft your account
Free access to in-network ATMs
May include online banking and bill-pay
Access to traditional in-person bank branches
On-campus branch locations and ATMs
May include online banking and bill-pay
May offer discounts at local or campus businesses
Sometimes your student ID card can be used to access your money
Risks Generally do not have in-person customer service options Possibly charge monthly maintenance fees – up to $12 a month in some cases – if you don’t meet the minimum balance or the financial institution’s other enrollment criteria, like maintaining a full-time enrollment status at school
May charge more than $30 per overdraft, which can add up quickly, especially if you opt in to coverage for ATM and debit card overdrafts
Could charge fees every time you use your debit card
Don’t always provide the ability to write checks
May charge inactivity fees each month for not using your account frequently
Possibly charge monthly maintenance fees – up to $12 a month in some cases – if you don’t meet the minimum balance or the financial institution’s other enrollment criteria, like maintaining a full-time enrollment status at school
May charge more than $30 per overdraft, which can add up quickly especially if you opt in to coverage for ATM and debit card overdrafts

 

Establish a Checking or Share Draft Account Common College Scams

 

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