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9 Best College Student Checking Accounts in 2020

Like most cliches, the “starving student” trope contains a grain of truth. Far too many students face serious financial constraints that necessitate stark choices between picking up an extra shift at their night job or studying as much as they need to for tomorrow’s exam. Even those with a little more financial breathing room are more apt to live simply in the hopes of stretching whatever income they’re able to earn between class (or parental support, if they’re so fortunate) as far as it can go.

As the millions-strong ranks of the underbanked make painfully clear, the American financial system doesn’t always do well to address the needs of those without much disposable income. But it’s not too bad at catering to the needs of a specific subset of the lower-income public: college students.

If you’re a student (or parent) looking for a place to park your money without excessive fees or unrealistic balance requirements, check out the impressive array of low-cost, low-balance checking accounts available to students.

These are among the top Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured checking accounts for United States-based students. Some actively restrict membership to younger individuals, most often those between 17 and 23 or 24 years old. But others are not restricted based on age or student status — meaning you can hold onto them as long as you wish after graduating.

Best Checking Accounts for College Students

1. Bank of America Advantage Banking – $100 Bonus Offer

Bofa New Logo 7 22 20 150x82Bank of America Advantage Banking is a checking account with three settings: Advantage SafeBalance, Advantage Plus, and Advantage Relationship. Pick the one that works for you right now, and if your life changes — say, you graduate from college and land a decent-paying job — you can switch to another setting that fits the new you. But with no monthly maintenance fee for college students under age 24, Advantage SafeBalance is the best choice for college students.

See offer page for more details.

All Bank of America Advantage Banking settings include:

  • Easy, Anytime Access. Visit Bank of America at thousands of financial centers and ATMs.
  • 24/7 Security. Total Security Protection® and fraud monitoring. Safer sign-in, card locking features, and more.
  • Convenient Ways to Pay. Use your debit card or digital wallet.
  • Smart Money Management Tools. Set custom alerts and savings goals. Get cash-back deals and rewards customized for you.
  • Unauthorized Transactions. Bank of America’s $0 Liability Guarantee means you’re not liable for unauthorized transactions made using your consumer debit card, as long as you report them promptly.
  • Debit Card Controls. Lock a missing card quickly and easily to prevent unauthorized use.
  • Custom Alerts. Know now and react fast to important account changes. You can set custom alerts via email or text for things like a low balance, pending deposit, and upcoming bills.

And you get all those features with an account designed just for students. Plus, Advantage SafeBalance charges no monthly maintenance fee for college students under age 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee is waived in any statement cycle during which the account holder is enrolled in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program.

Bank of America, N.A. member FDIC.

Apply Now

2. Chase College Checking

Chase Bank LogoThe Chase College Checking account is a fantastic choice for students ready to manage their money without help from their parents. Designed for students between 17 and 24 years of age, it waives monthly maintenance fees (typically $6) for college students up to five consecutive years.

Convenient value-added features include the user-friendly Chase Mobile app, which pretty much eliminates the need to visit a branch, and instant peer-to-peer (P2P) money transfers with Zelle. And account holders never pay maintenance fees on linked Chase Savings accounts.

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus.
  • Yield: None.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirement. After the five-year fee-free period ends, a $6 monthly maintenance fee applies during statement periods without one of the following: a direct deposit made to the account or an average day ending balance of $5,000 or more in the account.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Enjoy access to more than 16,000 Chase ATMs throughout the U.S.

Learn More

3. BBVA Online Checking

BBVA’s online checkingBbva Logo product is a totally free checking account available throughout the contiguous U.S. With no annual fee — ever — and access to more than 64,000 in-network ATMs, it’s a fantastic option for frugal students, even if it’s not explicitly marketed as a student checking account.

If you’re the sort of student whose most valuable assets tend to be technological, spend $4 per month to enroll in the ClearBenefits program and take advantage of useful services like identity theft restoration and cellphone protection.

  • Account Opening Bonus: Open an Online Checking account by Aug. 21, 2020, and receive a qualifying direct deposit of $500 or more by Oct. 31, 2020, to earn a $200 bonus. Add an Online Savings account and have a savings balance of at least $1,000 on Oct. 31, 2020, to increase your bonus to $250.
  • Yield: None.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The minimum opening deposit is $25.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Enroll in the Simple Cash Back program for opportunities to earn cash back at select participating merchants. Your spending behaviors influence the offers you see, but you always have total control over which you choose, and there’s no cost to enroll.

Learn More

4. Simple Checking Account

Simple LogoSimple is a technology-driven financial solution with a user-friendly checking account that’s perfect for penny-pinching students — even if it’s not student status-restricted. That’s in large part because Simple combines the features of an online financial solution with the automated money management tools of budgeting apps like Mint and its alternatives. Plus, balances held in Protected Goals Accounts — Simple’s answer to the traditional high-yield savings account — earn impressive yields.

Simple’s checking account doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees and doesn’t charge much in the way of other fees either. And college students love the Safe-to-Spend® tool, which automatically tallies up account inflows and expected outflows to tell you exactly how much you can spend in the coming days.

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus. Check back for the latest offers.
  • Yield: 0.80% APY on all Protected Goals Account balances.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum opening deposit and no minimum daily balance requirement, but you’ll need at least $0.01 to open a Protected Goals Account and to earn its APY
  • Rewards and Incentives:  Free budgeting and automatic savings tools in your Simple Account and free access to 40,000+ Allpoint ATMs.

Learn More

5. Chime Deposit Account

ChimeChime Bank Account is a user-friendly money management app that offers an early payday option for eligible deposit account (checking) customers whose employers file with the Federal Reserve to begin the direct deposit process. If you’re a college student working part-time to make ends meet while in school, that is doubtless a welcome perk.

Also not to be missed: an automatic savings feature that instantly rounds up the change on every debit card transaction and sets the difference aside for a rainy day.

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus. Check back for the latest offers.
  • Yield: 1.00% APY.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum opening deposit and no minimum daily balance.
  • Rewards and Incentives: With normal use, the Chime deposit account is virtually fee-free, though third-party ATM owners may charge fees beyond Chime’s control.

Learn More

6. HSBC Choice Checking

Hsbc LogoThe HSBC Choice Checking account has a nice welcome bonus worth $100 and waives monthly maintenance fees (usually $15) for six years from account opening for accounts opened by Oct. 30, 2020. Pair your account with a maintenance fee-free HSBC Direct Savings account (current yield: 1.01% APY on all balances) to maximize your return on deposited funds.

  • Account Opening Bonus: Earn a $100 welcome bonus when you open a new HSBC ChoiceChecking account with a $25 minimum opening deposit within 30 days of account opening and do one of the following in each statement cycle for three consecutive statement cycles: maintain a qualifying direct deposit of $500, make debit card transactions totaling $100 or more, or make a qualifying electronic bill payment of $100 or more. You must open your account by Oct. 30, 2020, to qualify.
  • Yield: None.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The minimum opening deposit is $25. There’s no ongoing balance requirement.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Take advantage of a suite of money management tools and insights from EverFi, an HSBC partner.

Learn More

7. Capital One 360 Money

capital one logoCapital One 360’s Money account is far and away the best choice on this list for high school students and parents looking to teach them lifelong money management habits. As one of the few true teen checking accounts around, it can help students start financial adulthood off on the right foot. A decent yield on all balances and no monthly maintenance fees — ever — further sweeten the deal.

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus. Check back for the latest offers.
  • Yield: 0.10% APY on all balances.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirement.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Use the app’s Spendable and Set Aside categories to make (or encourage) smart spending and saving decisions.

Learn More

8. TD Convenience Checking

TD Convenience Checking td bankis the best choice for students who meet two fairly common criteria: They want the convenience of robust mobile banking and the security offered by widespread branch and ATM access in a single package. Unfortunately, they must also be based (or attend school) in the Northeastern U.S., where most TD Bank branches are. Incidentally, with thousands of fee-free ATMs in Canada, TD Convenience Checking is suitable for U.S. students studying abroad there (or close enough to the border to visit regularly).

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus. Check back for the latest updates.
  • Yield: None.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit requirement and no ongoing balance requirement for full-time students under age 24.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Enjoy fee-free access to thousands of ATMs in the U.S. and Canada. Plus, pay no monthly maintenance fee on a linked TD Simple Savings account.

Learn More

9. Ally Interest Checking

ally bank logoLike some of the other contenders on this list, Ally’s Interest Checking account isn’t strictly a student checking account. But with no monthly maintenance fees, no minimums, thousands of in-network ATMs, and a decent yield on all balances, it’s an excellent starter account for students who don’t anticipate banking in-branch anytime soon.

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus. Check back for the latest updates.
  • Yield: 0.10% APY on balances under $15,000 and 0.50% APY on balances of $15,000 or greater.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no minimum deposit or ongoing balance requirements.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Enjoy mobile check deposits with the mobile app and fee-free access to nearly 40,000 Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. Transfer money by voice using the Ally skill for Amazon Alexa (or use Zelle, a more traditional P2P transfer option).

Learn More

Final Word

Discounts and deals abound for frugal students who know where to look for them. It’s heartening to see so many financial institutions — large, small, and in-between — acknowledging that students need a break on banking fees and balance restrictions too. Now that you’ve committed to investing in your economic future by pursuing a college degree, perhaps it’s time to step out of your parents’ financial shadow and open your first real bank account. You certainly have no shortage of options.

Do you qualify for any of these student checking accounts? Which are you most excited about opening?

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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