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10 Best Student Checking Accounts of May 2024


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.

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.

The Best Student Checking Accounts

Here are the top 10 best student checking accounts you can open today:

These are among the best FDIC-insured student checking accounts for U.S. bank and credit union account holders.

Most have low minimum deposit requirements and impressive mobile-friendly capabilities like bill pay and peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer apps.


1. Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking

  • 🥇 Best Overall
  • Minimum Deposit: $25
  • Monthly fees: $4.95 (waivable)

Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking is a simple bank account that doesn’t earn interest but makes banking easy. You need a minimum of $25 to open an account, and to waive the $4.95 monthly fee, you must be either under 25, have a balance of at least $500, or be enrolled in Bank of America Preferred Rewards.

The SafeBalance account doesn’t have overdraft fees because you can only spend the money you have, making it easy to stay on track financially. It also includes a $0 Liability Guarantee to provide peace of mind if your account is breached, if you report the issues immediately.

The SafeBalance bank account includes access to thousands of financial centers and ATMs, Total Security Protection®, 24/7 fraud monitoring, and many digital ways to pay. Finally, it includes budgeting tools that help you set (and reach) savings goals, custom alerts, and cash-back deals to earn financial rewards.

Bank of America, N.A. member FDIC.

Pros

  • Doesn’t allow overdrafts
  • Includes personal finance tools
  • Many ways to waive the monthly fee

Cons

  • Doesn’t earn interest
  • Monthly fee if you are over 25 years old

Open an Account


2. Chase College Checking

The Chase College Checking Account is a fantastic choice for students ages 17 – 24 ready to manage their money without their parents’ help and has a great account opening bonus to boot.

The account doesn’t have a monthly service fee until your expected graduation date, which you specify when you open the account, along with your school’s name. After graduation, the service fee is $6, but you can waive it with a $5,000 monthly balance or by setting up direct deposit.

Chase account holders have access to over 15,000 ATMs and a powerful mobile app to handle all your banking needs. You can set up custom alerts to keep track of your finances and send money for free using Zelle. 

You can also set up Autosave for savings goals and build a solid credit score using Chase Credit Journey®.

Also, if you’re a new Chase customer, you may qualify for a $100 account opening bonus after opening an account and completing qualifying activities. You must apply by July 24, 2024, to qualify.

Pros

  • Large ATM network
  • No minimum balance to open
  • Credit building and savings programs

Cons

  • Doesn’t pay interest
  • Service fee begins after graduation

Open an Account


3. Rewards Checking Plus via Upgrade

Rewards Checking Plus via Upgrade has one of the best cash-back programs of any free checking account.

It’s perfect for everyday spending because with at least a $1,000 monthly direct deposit, you can earn 2% back on everyday purchases made with your debit card at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants, bars, utilities, and certain recurring subscriptions.

With qualifying direct deposit, you can also access a higher APY on a linked Performance Savings account, have access to mobile check deposit, and get up to five non-network ATM reimbursements monthly.

Other benefits of the Rewards Checking Plus account include 2-day early access to direct deposit, 1% cashback on most purchases, no overdraft fees, and 24/7 access via the mobile app.

Pros

  • Early access to direct deposit
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Opportunities for cash back with or without direct deposit

Cons

  • No cash deposits
  • No branches to visit

Open an Account

¹ Rewards Checking Plus customers who set up monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more earn 2% cash back on common everyday expenses at convenience stores, drugstores, restaurants and bars – including deliveries – and gas stations, as well as recurring payments on utilities and monthly subscriptions including phone, cable, TV and other streaming services, and 1% cash back on all other debit card purchases. 2% cash back is limited to $500 in rewards per calendar year; after $500, customers earn 1% cash back on all eligible debit card purchases for the remainder of the year. Rewards Checking Plus accounts with less than $1,000 in monthly direct deposits 60 days after account opening will earn 1% cash back on common everyday expenses and 0.50% cash back on all other eligible debit card purchases. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
² There are no overdraft fees or annual fees associated with Rewards Checking Plus accounts. Rewards Checking Plus charges no ATM fees, but third-party institutions may charge you a fee if you use their ATM/network or if you use your Upgrade VISA® Debit Card internationally. For Active Accounts, Upgrade will rebate ATM fees charged by another institution for debit card withdrawals in the United States, up to five times per calendar month. To be eligible to receive third-party ATM fee rebates in any calendar month for eligible ATM withdrawals made during that month on a Rewards Checking Plus account, the account must be an Active Account in the prior calendar month. See the Active Account page for more information. As a courtesy to new customers, Upgrade will provide third-party ATM fee rebates for 60 days after account opening regardless of account user status. Some limitations apply. Please refer to the applicable Cross River Bank Checking Deposit Account Agreement and Upgrade VISA® Debit Card Agreement and Disclosures for more information.
3Early direct deposit requires set up of recurring electronic direct deposit from your employer, payroll, or benefits provider and is limited to direct deposits under $5000. Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing in which we receive notice of impending direct deposit, which is generally up to two days before the scheduled deposit date.
4Active Accounts with a monthly direct deposit of $1000 are eligible for additional benefits on Rewards Checking Plus such as additional cash back rewards, ATM fee reimbursement, and more. See the Active Account page for more information.


4. Chime® Deposit Account

Chime is a user-friendly money management app that offers early access to your paycheck by up to two days (this varies by employer). If you’re a college student working part-time to make ends meet while in school, that’s doubtless a welcome perk.

If you link your Chime checking and savings accounts, you can also earn 2.00% APY* on savings account balances and use the roundup feature to automatically save money each time you spend with your Chime Visa Debit Card® or save money each time you get paid with automatic savings.

You also get access to 60,000+ fee-free ATMs, up to $200 in overdraft protection (if you qualify) on debit card purchases, and access to 24/7 banking. 

Pros

  • No fees
  • Large ATM network
  • Robust automatic savings programs

Cons

  • No branches to visit
  • Must open a checking account to qualify for interest-bearing savings

Open an Account with Chime

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.

*The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of May 22, 2023. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.


5. Capital One 360 MONEY

Capital One 360’s MONEY account is a custodial account for kids under 18 that sticks with you into adulthood. If you want to start your financial journey early and learn lifelong money management habits, it’s the best option.

Capital One 360 MONEY is one account with different mobile app options for kids and parents. Teens can manage their money while parents can oversee and step in to control as needed, including locking the debit card as needed.

Parents can link any external or Capital One bank account to MONEY and easily transfer funds to it. The account includes a free debit card with access to 70,000+ ATMs and no fees or account minimums.

The account earns a small amount of interest (0.10% APY) on any balance and has categories for teens to label money as ‘Spendable’ or ‘Set Aside’, making it easier to learn how to save for large goals.

Pros

  • Pays interest on any balance
  • Gives teens flexibility, and parents retain control
  • Features to help kids learn good money management

Cons

  • Doesn’t allow paper checks
  • $500 withdrawal or spending limit daily if you’re under 18

Open an Account


6. Ally Interest Checking

Like some of the other contenders on this list, the Ally Bank Interest Checking account isn’t strictly a student checking account. But its two-tiered yield scheme is tops among accounts open to students:

  • 0.10% APY on balances under $15,000
  • 0.25% APY on balances of $15,000 or greater.

The account’s other benefits include no monthly maintenance fee, no monthly minimum balance requirements, and access to 43,000+ fee-free ATMs. They also reimburse up to $10 per month of non-network ATM charges and 2-day early access to direct deposits.

Another great feature the Ally checking account offers is spending buckets, similar to cash envelopes. You transfer funds to each of the buckets you create, and Ally will track your spending in each category to give you a visual of how much money you have available. It’s a great way to help students learn how to manage money and watch their spending.

Finally, Ally offers an overdraft program called CoverDraft℠ that covers overdrafts up to $100 without direct deposit or up to $250 with direct deposit. It covers overdrafts from debit card purchases, automatic payments, transfers you initiate, and personal checks.

Pros

  • Earns interest on all balances
  • Robust spending tracker with categories
  • Large ATM network and non-network ATM reimbursements

Cons

  • No cash deposits
  • No physical branches

Open an Account


7. PNC Virtual Wallet Student

PNC Virtual Wallet Student is a student-friendly version of PNC’s popular Virtual Wallet package. It combines three subaccounts to help younger people manage short- and long-term financial needs in one place:

  • Spend, a primary checking account for day-to-day money management needs
  • Reserve, an account to set aside cash or shorter-term financial goals and emergencies
  • Growth, a long-term savings account with a variable yield

The PNC Virtual Wallet Student student bank account package adds some benefits the “adult” PNC Virtual Wallet package lacks, including no monthly service fee, one complimentary incoming or outgoing domestic wire monthly, and one courtesy overdraft per month.

Plus, new sign-ups are automatically enrolled in electronic statements and online banking and have access to Low Cash Mode®, a program that helps students avoid overdraft fees.

With Low Cash Mode®, students get up to 24 hours to bring their account to at least $0, control to stop payments already initiated via check or ACH transactions, and customized alerts to let you know when you’re approaching your low balance threshold.

PNC Virtual Wallet Student upgrades to PNC Virtual Wallet after six years, at which time it’s subject to Virtual Wallet features and fees then in effect.

Pros

  • Access to physical branches
  • Savings accounts pay interest
  • Automatically includes two savings accounts with a checking account

Cons

  • No paper checks
  • Automatically changes to a regular PNC Virtual Wallet with fees after six years

Open an Account


8. Discover® Cashback Debit

The Discover Bank Cashback Debit Account is a student-friendly checking account that delivers an impressive cash-back punch. Specifically, that’s 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in eligible monthly purchases*.

Discover Cashback Debit is also very light on fees, with no monthly maintenance fee and no fees for insufficient funds, bank checks, or debit card replacement. That means you get to keep more of your hard-earned cash back.

Other great features include early access to direct deposit, access to up to 60,000 fee-free ATMs, robust mobile banking, and free access to Zelle. You can pair your Discover checking account with Apple Pay®, and your checking account balance is FDIC-insured up to the maximum amount allowed.

Pros

  • Large ATM network
  • Can earn cashback on purchases
  • No fees of any kind except an outgoing wire fee

Cons

  • No cash deposits
  • Low cap on cash back rewards

Open an Account

*See website for details.


9. Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

The Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking account isn’t specifically for students, but it offers many benefits students could use, including no monthly minimum balance requirements and a high interest rate of 0.25% on any balance. The largest perk for most students is the ability to use any ATM, and Alliant will automatically reimburse you for any fees that day, up to $20 a month.

Other perks include no monthly fees and no overdraft fees, so you don’t have to worry if you mistakenly overspend. The Alliant banking app makes mobile banking a cinch and includes mobile deposit so you don’t have to worry about how you’ll deposit funds.]

To have overdraft protection, you must also have an Alliant Credit Union savings account linked to your checking account. They also offer Courtesy Pay, a service that covers your overdrafts, but you must enroll in the service and qualify. 

Pros

  • Pays high interest rate
  • Has over 80,000 fee-free ATMs
  • Includes $0 protection on fraudulent charges

Cons

  • Must join the credit union
  • You must have direct deposit and opt-in to eStatements to get high interest rate

Open an Account


10. Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking

The Wells Fargo Clear Access Banking account is one of the best student checking accounts because students automatically avoid the monthly maintenance fee, and there are no overdraft fees. This simple checking account doesn’t pay interest, but it’s made for account holders with lower balances, such as teens.

There’s no monthly minimum balance required, and students have access to many features, including Zelle, mobile deposit, and the ability to add their debit card to their digital wallet. 

Wells Fargo has around 11,000 fee-free ATMs and provides 24/7 monitoring to catch fraud before it gets out of hand. The account doesn’t provide access to paper checks, and there’s no chance for overdraft since they’ll decline your purchases that exceed your limit (with a few exceptions).

Pros

  • No overdraft fee
  • Large ATM network
  • No minimum balance requirement

Cons

  • No interest paid
  • Transactions could be declined if you don’t have the funds

Open an Account

How to Choose the Best Student Checking Account

Choosing the best student checking accounts is a big decision. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Will you keep the account after you graduate or become an ‘adult’?
  • What are the monthly maintenance fees, and how do you waive them?
  • How convenient are the bank’s ATMs?
  • Does the bank offer mobile banking features you’ll use?
  • Do you want to earn interest?
  • Does the account require a specific monthly balance?

Pros and Cons

Like any bank account, there are pros and cons to student checking accounts to consider.

Pros

  • Most don’t charge monthly fees, or they are easy to waive based on age
  • No monthly minimum balance requirements
  • Options for overdraft coverage or to decline purchases that exceed the limit
  • Mobile-friendly bank account management
  • Many include budgeting or savings tools

Cons

  • Many banks don’t pay interest
  • You can only have the account until you graduate or hit a certain age
  • Most banks offering these accounts don’t have physical branches

How to Open a Student Checking Account 

It’s easy to open a student checking account, as most banks offer the option online.

Be sure you have proof of your eligibility as a student, such as your student ID.

You’ll also need your date of birth, Social Security number, and driver’s license or state ID.

To apply, you’ll complete a quick form online and link an external bank account to fund the account. If you don’t have an external account, you may want to look for a bank where you can open the account in person so you can bring cash or a check to deposit funds. 

To finalize the account, you’ll sign the account agreement and receive your account information to get started!

Methodology

We use several important factors to select the best student checking accounts for our readers. Each relates in some way to the cost, yield, or usefulness of these accounts.

Account Fees

Student checking accounts aren’t known for excessive fees. That wouldn’t be very respectful of students’ meager budgets.

Still, some student checking accounts really go the extra mile to minimize fees. They don’t charge monthly maintenance fees, or they make it easy to waive those fees with student status. 

Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements

The best student checking accounts have no minimum deposit or ongoing minimum balance requirements. This is a nod to the fact that students often don’t have much to spare.

Account Opening Promotions

There’s nothing quite like qualifying for a bank account opening promotion right out of the gate. Some student checking accounts deliver impressive opening boosts of $100 or more. Just make sure you can complete any required qualifying activities during the introductory period, if applicable.

Account Yield

Even a modest yield gives an account an edge in a low-rate environment. The best student checking accounts can’t quite match the top savings accounts on the market, but they typically edge out big-bank checking accounts that don’t pay interest.

Age Requirements and Other Eligibility Criteria

Not all student checking accounts limit eligibility to college-age account holders. Some let you in even if you’re heading back to school after a long hiatus or getting a second degree (or continuing your education) after years in the workforce.

Value-Added Features

Some student checking accounts come with additional bells and whistles that increase their appeal and make them better for everyday use. Examples include automated savings tools, instant P2P transfers, access to thousands of fee-free ATMs, in-app budgeting tools, and joint or custodial account capabilities. 


FAQs

You have questions about checking accounts for college students. We have answers.

Can Anyone Open a Student Checking Account?

Some student checking accounts actively restrict membership to younger individuals, most often those between 17 and 23 or 24 years old. 

Others are not restricted based on age or student status — meaning you can hold onto them as long as you wish after graduating. Some offer a clear path to “graduate” to non student accounts without transferring your balances or going through the trouble of reapplying.

What Happens to Your Student Checking Account When You Graduate?

It depends on the bank. Often, you can convert or upgrade your student account to an adult account without reapplying or transferring your balance. If you don’t have that option, you might need to close your student account and transfer the funds to a new checking account with the same bank.

Is There an Age Limit on Your Student Checking Account?

It depends on the bank; some limit age eligibility to college-age students, typically between 17 and 24. Others are more lenient and allow any adult to have a student account in their name as long as they’re enrolled in a recognized degree or certificate program on at least a part-time basis. (Often, “part-time” means half-time or greater.)

Can Minors Open Student Checking Accounts?

Many banks allow 17-year-olds to open student checking accounts if they turn 18 during the first year of a recognized degree or certificate program. A parent or guardian’s authorization must approve accounts for these students, however.

Otherwise, minors generally can’t open student checking accounts on their own. Some banks offer checking accounts for teens or high school students, typically as custodial or joint accounts shared with a parent.

When Should you Open a Student Checking Account?

Student checking accounts are best for people within the 17 – 24 age bracket and who attend school. They provide you with some protections regular checking accounts don’t, including automatically waiving the monthly fee. 

If you carry a low balance and worry about overdrafts or want budgeting tools that many student checking accounts offer, there’s typically nothing to lose. Just be aware of when they ‘expire’ and what will happen, as many banks automatically turn it into a regular checking account that may have higher fees or different requirements.

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

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.