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7 Best College Student Checking Accounts in 2021

And as the millions-strong ranks of the underbanked make painfully clear, the American financial system doesn’t always do well addressing 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 the top FDIC-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 Student Checking Accounts for College Students

These are among the best student checking accounts for U.S. bank and credit union account holders. Most have low minimum deposit requirements and an impressive array of mobile-friendly capabilities, such as bill pay and P2P transfer apps.

1. TD Convenience Checking

Earn a $150 Account Opening Bonus With Qualifying Activities

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: Open your account and receive direct deposits totaling $500 or more within 60 days to earn a $150 bonus.
  • 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 no ATM fees at thousands of ATMs in the U.S. and Canada. Plus, pay no monthly maintenance fee on a linked TD Simple Savings account. The monthly maintenance fee is waived with a balance of $100 or more. TD Bank has some nice annual-fee-free credit card options too.

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2. Chase College Checking

Earn a $100 Account Opening Bonus With Qualifying Activities

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: New Chase customers may qualify for a $100 account opening bonus after opening an account and completing qualifying activities.
  • 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. Chime Deposit Account

Round Up the Change to Save Automatically

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’s 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: See Chime’s website for the latest rate information.
  • 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

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.

4. HSBC Choice Checking

Enjoy an Attractive Referral Bonus Offer

Hsbc LogoThe HSBC Choice Checking account has a slew of great perks for students of all ages, including up to $2,000 in referral bonus opportunities.

Pair your account with a maintenance fee-free HSBC Direct Savings account to maximize your return on deposited funds.

  • Account Opening Bonus: See HSBC’s website for the latest account opening bonus information.
  • Yield: None.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: The minimum opening deposit is $25. There’s no ongoing balance requirement, but you do need to keep at least $1,500 in combined personal deposit account and investment balances or receive at least one recurring direct deposit each month to avoid the maintenance fee.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Take advantage of a suite of money management tools and insights from EverFi, an HSBC partner. Plus, get up to $2,000 when you refer friends who open a qualifying HSBC personal or business account.

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5. Capital One 360 MONEY

0.10% APY on All Balances

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

6. Ally Interest Checking

Up to 0.25% APY on Eligible Balances

ally bank logoLike some of the other contenders on this list, the Ally Bank 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 0.25% APY on balances of $15,000 or greater.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement or minimum deposit required.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Enjoy mobile check deposits with the mobile app and no ATM fees at nearly 40,000 machines in Ally’s U.S. ATM network. Transfer money by voice using the Ally skill for Amazon Alexa (or use Zelle, a more traditional P2P transfer option). And take comfort in the fact that Ally Bank never charges overdraft fees.

Learn More

7. PNC Virtual Wallet Student

3-in-1 Account Package for Short- and Long-Term Financial Needs

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, a cash set-aside for 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 charge, one complimentary incoming or outgoing domestic wire each month, and one courtesy overdraft per month.

Plus, new sign-ups are automatically enrolled in electronic statements and online banking.

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.

  • Account Opening Bonus: There’s currently no account opening bonus. Check back for the latest updates.
  • Yield: Yields on Growth balance vary with prevailing rates.
  • Minimum Deposit and Balance Requirements: There’s no ongoing minimum balance requirement or minimum deposit required.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Get up to two monthly ATM fee reimbursements at non-PNC ATMs.

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.

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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