You are here

Interested in studying in United States?

Check out our comprehensive guide!

The Best Student Bank Accounts in the US

The Best Student Bank Accounts in the US main image

Whether you’re an international student studying in the US, or a US native student trying to navigate the (often confusing) world of banking to open a student bank account, it can often be difficult to understand a) what you’re being offered and b) what you actually want from a bank account.

For anyone left feeling a bit confused about student banking, you definitely aren’t alone! Read on as we explain what some of the biggest banks in the US are offering students and how you can take advantage of this. Free money, anyone?

Which student bank account do I need?

In the US there are two main types of bank accounts you should know about: the checking account and the savings account.

A checking account is the bank account you’ll be using on a day to day basis. These accounts allow you to access your money whenever you want and provides you with a safe place to store your money. These accounts are ideal for managing your daily expenses and for paying any bills. Some banks have specific checking accounts for students, which we will be exploring in the table below.

A savings account is the bank account you’ll use for longer term deposits. These accounts allow you to gain interest on your savings, so it is worth researching each bank’s savings account interest rate to find the one with the highest rate of interest.

Benefits and extras explained

Banks often try to entice students with a variety of extras and benefits – but what do they mean? Before we start comparing the different student checking accounts on offer in the US, we’ll give you a quick run though of the different perks banks may use to compete.

ATM charges

In the US, banks will often charge you if you take money from another bank’s ATM. As you will see in the table below, some banks will offer an extra benefit by reducing the fees you will be charged for using another bank’s ATM.

Others will compete by offering a large number of ATMs around the country. This is particularly common in larger banks, such as Bank of America and Chase bank, who have a lot of branches.

Cash bonuses

You may see this and think – free money! However, beware that this may come with certain restrictions, such as having to deposit a certain amount in the bank account each month. But in the end, yes, it is free money.

Overdraft protection

When you spend more money than you have in your student bank account, you will go into an overdraft. When this happens, your bank may decline your payment and possibly charge you a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee. Overdraft protection will stop this happening by allowing your transactions to go through, even if you don’t have the money in at the moment.

Your bank may offer several options: linking an eligible savings account which automatically transfers money over from a savings account to cover the amount, linking a credit card, overdraft line of credit (a line of credit for overdrafts based on your creditworthiness) or even overdraft coverage for one time transactions. However, it’s worth noting that all of these come with potential fees, so bear this in mind before you go on a massive online shopping spree!

Monthly service fees

Monthly service fees are fees that banks charge on a monthly basis to maintain your bank account, and are usually between US$6 and $50 per month, depending on the bank and the type of account you open. These fees can easily be avoided, however. For example, they are often waived as a benefit of student bank accounts and can also often be avoided by having a regular monthly deposit or keeping a certain amount of money in your bank account. Make sure you check your chosen bank to verify their policy on monthly service fees.  

Which student bank account is right for me?

In the table below, we compare the top US student checking accounts, made specifically for university students, so you can decide which one is right for you.

Top US Student Checking Accounts

Bank

Bank account name

Monthly service fee

Minimum initial deposit

Who is it available to

Other perks

Bank of America

No fee for eligible students

$25

Students under 24 and enrolled in school

Online and mobile banking

Debit card lock/unlock

$0 Liability guarantee

 

Chase

$6 monthly service fee or $0 for 5 years in college

$25

College students aged 17 to 24 years old with proof of student status

Get $100 when you open a new account

Access to 16,000 ATMs and nearly 5,000 branches

Chase quickpay with Zelle® (send money in moments)

Chase Mobile® app

Zero Liability protection

Wells Fargo

$10 monthly service fee or $0 for 17-24 year olds

$25

17- 24 year old college students

Access to more than 13,000 ATMs

Wells Fargo Mobile® app

Zero Liability Protection

24/7 Fraud monitoring

Chip technology

HSBC USA

No monthly maintenance fee for six years

$25

Over 18 US students and international students studying in the US

Receive $100 welcome deposit

HSBC USA

No monthly maintenance fee for six years

$25

Available for international students until December 31st 2019

30-day sim card with unlimited international calls, 2GB data plan, 200 text messages

Access to exclusive offers and services, including travel, transportation and airport services and more

No minimum deposit balance required with account opening 

US Bank

No monthly maintenance fee (unless you wish to receive paper statements, which cost $42 per month)

$25

US or international students

Free U.S. Bank ATM transactions

No minimum balance

No bank fee on first four non-US ATM transactions per statement period

Online banking with free credit score access

Santander

No monthly fee for students

$10

Students aged 14-25

Apple Pay

Reduced ATM fees

No incoming wire fees

TD Bank

$15 or $0 if between 17-23

$0

Students aged 17-23

Until December 2nd, 2019, $150 bonus with direct deposits of $500 or more in 60 days

Free at TD ATMs

Send money with Zelle®

Keybank

$5 or $0 if you make at least 5 posted transactions or deposit at least $200 to waive the monthly maintenance fee.

$50

Students ages 16 to 24 who are high school juniors or seniors or are enrolled in post high school education

Online banking

Zero fee overdraft protection transfers if linked to a KeyBank savings account

Financial wellness tool

How to open a bank account

So now you know which bank account is right for you, what you’re probably wondering is how you go about opening your new bank account. Luckily, it’s now easier than ever to open a new bank account, provided you have the correct documents.

You will need several things in order to open your new bank account. These are:

  • Your passport
  • Student visa (if you’re an international student) as well as your I-94 card and I-20 form
  • Debit/Credit card from your own country (if you’re an international student)
  • Credit history report
  • Proof of enrollment document (acceptance letter)
  • A utility bill (not phone) dated less than 3 months from today or any government issued document including your address as well as your last three bank statements
  • The amount of money you wish to deposit into your new account

Nearly all banks allow you to apply for a new bank account online in just a few minutes, by simply entering in the information you’re asked for. However, if you this option is not available for you (perhaps if you are an international student trying to open a bank account) you can make an appointment with a bank branch to sort it out in person.

Related categories:

Natalia P saved this
Written by Chloe Lane
A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles

0 Comment