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Best Student Checking Accounts Guide: Earn Up to $100 in Bonuses

It's important to choose the right checking account for this stage of your life.

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Whether you will soon be entering college for the first time or you’re heading back to school for another semester of learning, a student checking account could benefit you in several ways. Checking accounts (whether they’re designed for students or not) can make it easier to manage your money and gain financial independence. 

In many ways, student checking accounts mimic traditional checking accounts with similar features and capabilities. However, banks that offer student accounts may include key features that could be especially valuable to a young person who doesn’t have a lot of experience managing a checking account. 

At a Glance

What to Look for in a Student Checking Account

Checking accounts, whether they’re online or from a local bank or credit union, are a tool that most adults in the United States use to help manage their money. According to a recent study by the FDIC, nearly 95% of U.S. households have a checking or savings account.

When you’re in the market for a student checking account—either for yourself or your child—you’ll want to look for accounts with features that matter most to you. The “perfect” student checking account doesn’t exist. But it may be possible to find an account that’s the best fit for you. 

Here are some of the features and benefits you might want to look for in a new student checking account. 

  • Zero or Low Monthly Fees
  • No or Low Minimum Deposit Requirements
  • Large ATM Network
  • ATM Fee Reimbursement
  • User-Friendly Banking Apps
  • Competitive Annual Percentage Yield (APY)
  • Generous Sign Up Bonus or Cash Back Rewards

Best Student Checking Accounts

students on college campus
Pexels

Whether you’re looking for a checking account with no fees, low minimum balance requirements, or bonuses and reward-earning opportunities, it’s important to shop around. When you compare checking accounts you can find the bank that offers the best solution for your current needs at any stage of your life. 

Below are some of the best checking accounts for students to help start your search. 

Chase College Checking℠

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Chase College Checking
Bonus: $100 for New Accounts
Monthly Fees: $6 monthly service fee with options to waive
Minimum Opening Balance: None
Features:
$100 new account bonus
Access to 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches
Deposit checks with the Chase Mobile® app
Monthly service fee waived for students

Chase College Checking is one of the best student checking accounts on the market. The account not only features $0 in monthly service fees for eligible college students, it also comes with a $100 bonus opportunity for new accountholders who complete 10 qualifying transactions within 60 days of account opening. Account holders can also use Zelle to send and receive funds after enrolling on their Chase Mobile App or Chase Online℠.

It’s worth noting that Chase College Checking accounts will not pay you any interest. But you could always consider opening a high yield savings account to potentially earn more money on the funds you plan to tuck away in savings for emergencies and other financial goals. 

How to Open an Account

You can open a Chase College Checking account online or at a local Chase branch. You’ll need to be between the ages of 17 and 24 years old and provide a valid student ID or proof of college acceptance or enrollment to be eligible for this type of account. But there is no minimum deposit requirement to meet. 

Fees

One of the biggest perks of a Chase College Checking account is the fact that you don’t have to worry about paying a monthly fee—at least not from the time you open the account until after your expected graduation date.  However, the zero-fee time frame is only available for up to five years from the date of account opening. 

The monthly service fee increases to $6 after your expected graduation date or five years passes—whichever happens first. Yet there are a few ways to qualify for a fee waiver even after the increase. 

Sign Up Bonus

As long as you’re not already a Chase checking customer, you may be eligible to earn a $100 new account bonus when you open a Chase College Checking account. To qualify for the bonus, you will need to complete the following actions. 

  • Sign up for a new account using the above partner link before January 25, 2023.
  • Complete 10 or more qualifying transactions (e.g., debit card purchases, ACH credits, online bill pay, Zelle payments, etc.) within 60 days of account opening. 
  • Keep your account open and in good standing until after you receive the bonus (typically within 15 days of qualification). 

Ally Interest Checking

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Ally Interest Checking
Bonus: None
Monthly Fees: None
Minimum Opening Balance: None
Features:
0.25% APY
Access to over 43,000 ATMs free of charge
Up to $10/month reimbursed for out of network ATM fees

A $0 monthly service fee is one of the best features that many student checking accounts have to offer. So if you’re a fan of free checking accounts, the Ally Interest Checking account is worth considering. 

Students and non-students alike may enjoy the benefits of the Ally Interest Checking account, from no minimum balance requirements to 0.25% APY—a rate that’s higher than what many other banks offer. Plus, the account comes with a free Ally Bank Debit Mastercard® that you can use to make purchases or withdraw funds free of charge at over 43,000 ATMs. 

You can also use your card outside of the Allpoint® ATM network. The bank will reimburse you for up to $10 in ATM fees per statement period. 

How to Open an Account

You need to be at least 18 years old to open an account with Ally Bank. That means the account won’t be an option for younger teenagers. Additionally, Ally does not have brick-and-mortar branches. So, you must apply online to open an Ally Interest Checking account. 

Fees

As mentioned, there are no monthly maintenance fees with the Ally Interest Checking account. Even cashier’s checks are fee-free if you need them. The only fees you might have to pay on the account are as follows.

  • $7.50 for a Returned Deposit
  • $20 for Outgoing Domestic Wire
  • $25 for Account Research
  • $15 for Expedited Delivery

Sign Up Bonus

There’s no sign up bonus available for opening a new Ally Interest Checking account. 

Discover Cashback Debit Account

Secure application on issuer’s website.

Discover Cashback Debit Account
Bonus: Earn 1% cashback on purchases (up to $3,000/month)
Monthly Fees: None
Minimum Opening Balance: None
Features:
Debit card earns cashback on select purchases
Access to 60,000 fee-free ATMs
No fees
FDIC Insured

Discover is a household name when it comes to the credit card products the company makes available to consumers and small businesses. But the bank also offers the Discover Cashback Debit account that could be worth considering for both students and others. 

Like the other options on our list, the Discover Cashback Debit account does not charge its customers a monthly maintenance fee. There are also zero minimum deposit requirements to worry about with the account. 

In addition to $0 monthly fees, the bank has a large network of over 60,000 ATMs that you can access for free. And, perhaps best of all, you have the opportunity to earn 1% cash back on any eligible purchases you make with the debit card attached to your checking account. 

How to Open an Account

Discover is another bank that does not have physical branches. Therefore, the only way to open a new account is to fill out an application online. 

You must be at least 18 years old to open a Discover Cashback Debit account. That makes the account a good option to consider for college students, but most high school students and younger teenagers won’t be eligible. 

Fees

The Discover Cashback Debit account is one of the most lenient checking accounts on our list when it comes to fees. If you open an account you won’t have to worry about paying monthly fees, fees for insufficient funds, or fees for cashier’s checks. Unless you send a wire transfer or use an ATM outside of Discover’s network, you shouldn’t have to pay any fees at all. 

Sign Up Bonus

Discover doesn’t offer a sign up bonus for new customers at this time, but the cash back offer below helps to make up for this.

Cash Back

When you open a Discover Cashback Debit account, you have the opportunity to earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 worth of eligible debit card purchase each month. ATM transactions, loan payments, peer-to-peer payments (like Apple Pay Cash), and other transactions aren’t eligible to earn cash back.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Michelle Black
Michelle Black
Michelle Black is founder of CreditWriter.com and HerCreditMatters.com. Michelle is a leading credit card journalist with over a decade and a half of experience in the financial industry. She’s an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, small business, and debt eradication. Michelle is also a certified credit expert witness and personal finance writer.

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