In addition to the bare minimums that student checking accounts should be offering their customers — no minimum balance, no monthly maintenance fee — there are other things that potential account openers should know about, just in case the banks don’t advertise or promote these perks.
Two of the most common bank fees involved overdrafts and use of ATMs. Some banks offer waivers on both of those fees specifically for student checking accounts, though usually not without caveats.
With no steady income, it would be easy for a student to accidentally spend more money than they have, and then have to fork up an overdraft fee. Many student checking accounts will offer students to waive their first ever overdraft fee, or they’ll offer a set number of times an overdraft fee can be waived in a year. Of course, not having the ability to waive overdraft fees encourages financial responsibility, but in emergencies, being able to waive it would be extremely convenient.
The other annoying fee is the ATM fee. Try as you may to choose a bank that has multiple branches near your household and your child’s campus location, there will be times when accessing an in-network ATM will prove difficult. With a student checking account, free out-of-network access may be available. So even if you or your child (mostly your child) use out-of-network ATMs, nobody has to pay a fee. Believe us, those ATM fees add up and this might be one of the biggest perks of student checking.
In addition to getting those two fees waived, some student checking accounts offer free check-writing and online/mobile banking as well, so be sure to ask about those options.
However, just as important as knowing about these perks is knowing the restrictions and limitations that may apply. There may be restrictions with age, varying fee scales (i.e., no out-of-network ATM fees only if a minimum balance exists on the account) and others.
Finally, student account ownership is meant to last the duration of a student’s time at school. Some accounts let students keep their benefits for five years, after which the accounts will convert to regular checking accounts. Others offer the student account option to graduate students as well, and some designate that account holders need to be under the age of 25 if their student checking accounts have been opened for more than five years.