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Published: Oct 11, 2023 8 min read
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College is one of the most exciting times of life, and one that’s filled with firsts. It might be the first time you’re living on your own. Even if you’re living in a dorm and using a meal plan, you can expect to manage your own money. In other words, you’ll need your own bank account.

Most banks offer accounts specially designed for students, but the offerings vary widely, with a range of charges and fees. That makes choosing a bank account complicated.We’ve done the work for you, finding the features and perks that work best for different needs.. For our list of the best student bank accounts, we looked at interest rates for savings, easy access to your cash, low or no monthly fees, and rewards and perks.

Here are our picks for the best banks and credit unions of 2023-2024 for students:

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PNC is once again our best overall bank for students. Its checking and savings account Virtual Wallet Student includes a VISA debit card and other features that make life convenient for busy students. While enrolled, account holders pay no monthly fee and are granted one automatic courtesy refund of any overdraft Item fees associated with the first overdraft event. Each statement period, students are granted one incoming domestic or international wire transfer at no charge. Open a Spend Checking Account with $25. Savings accounts have no opening balance requirements. The first two non-PNC ATM transactions are free in each statement period.

You can open a Virtual Student Wallet as soon as you become a student and hold the account for up to six years.

  • $0 opening balance on savings
  • No monthly fee for six years while enrolled
  • 1 free overdraft per statement period
  • Low Cash mode helps avoid overdrafts
  • Low APY (0.01%) compared with other banks
  • Overdraft fees are higher than others ($36)

Best high-yield checking is the stand-out category here, with Capital One’s MONEY Teen Checking. Of all this year’s winners, this account pays the highest on high-yield savings and checking (4.30%). Other perks include few fees and a large network of 70,000+ ATMs (though there are few branches/cafes compared with other banks and no ATM service on its savings account). Accounts are easy to open and come with fraud protection — and, perfect for some students, joint accounts with parents are available.

MONEY Teen Checking has the highest APY on savings and checking.

  • Easy to open
  • Very few fees
  • Joint account with a parent
  • 70,000+ ATM network
  • Fraud protection
  • High APY
  • Few perks

If you’re a parent scouting bank accounts for your kids, you might want to consider a student account for your high-schooler. Many banks offer accounts with features specifically geared toward middle- and high-school students, and Bethpage Student Checking is our pick for best high school student account. It’s an easy way to introduce younger teens to banking, with an account that is easy to open, has no monthly fees, offers ATM access (nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide) and Zelle.

Bethpage Student Checking has no minimum balance requirement and can be held starting at age 13 through age 20.

  • Easy to open
  • No monthly fees
  • Nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide
  • Zelle
  • Debit Mastercard
  • No APY

One of America’s best-known and omnipresent banks nabs this year’s Best for Convenience for students. There is no opening balance minimum or monthly fee required for Chase College Checking, which has low after-college fees that can be easily waived. The financial giant also boasts a sprawling network of ATMs (16,000) and 4,700 branches.

Chase College Checking can garner account-holders $100 for signing up and no monthly fees.

  • No opening balance and no monthly fee while in college
  • After-college fee is low and can be easily waived
  • $100 bonus for new customers opening accounts
  • Large ATM network
  • No APY
  • No ATM reimbursement
  • ATM fee higher than others

You can snag yourself a cool $200 when you sign up for a Bank of America student account. Depositors need only have $2,000 in direct deposits over the first 90 days of opening the account. Other features worth noting in Bank of America’s Advantage SafeBalance Banking are no monthly fee, online banking and Zelle. The account’s auto save lets you schedule transfers to your account so you can stash money with ease. Additionally, there are no fees for incoming domestic wire transfers, stop payments and other services.

Bank of America’s SafeBalance offers checkless banking with no overdraft fees.

  • $25 opening balance
  • No monthly fee
  • $200 sign-up bonus
  • Zelle
  • Auto save
  • No checks
  • No APY

Regions Bank’s LifeGreen Checking for Students notches the best perks on our list, with discounts on products, services and loans. Students can earn an annual savings bonus as well as cashback or rewards points when using Regions Visa cards at Regions Offers retailers. There’s also a 30% discount on safe deposit boxes with an additional 10% discount if the student uses auto-pay. Similar auto-pay discounts are available on installment loan payments.

LifeGreen Checking for Students from Regions Bank has a low opening balance and several ways to waive the monthly fee.

  • Low opening balance
  • Easy ways to waive monthly fee
  • Discount on installment loan payments with auto-pay
  • No monthly fee on savings account
  • Cashback or point rewards with Regions Visa card
  • Opportunity to earn annual savings bonus
  • Most rewards and perks depend on having multiple accounts
  • No interest
  • No free checks

KeyBank wins as best for promoted savings on its Smart Checking account’s automated savings feature, which rounds up debit purchases and funnels the excess into a linked savings account. The bank offers very few fees with no minimum balance required once the account is opened. Mastercard debit card, mobile banking and direct deposit also offered.

Smart Checking account at KeyBank lets students save almost effortlessly with EasyUp automated savings.

  • Few fees
  • No minimum balance required once the account is opened
  • Easy Up automated savings (with linked savings account)
  • Mastercard debit card
  • Mobile banking
  • Direct deposit
  • No APY
  • Non-network ATM fees are higher than some other banks
  • No fee reimbursements

Best checking/savings combo geared toward relationship accounts goes this year to Comerica, which along with its Access Checking automatically includes a Statement Savings Account with a waived monthly fee, among other perks. Also offered: low opening balances and reasonable ways to waive fees.

Comerica’s Access Checking is rich with features such as fraud detection, web tools and no-fee web banking.

  • Low opening balance
  • Reasonable ways to waive fees
  • Lots of web tools, including for fraud detection
  • Geared toward relationship accounts
  • No APY

Students and their parents love low fees, and this year’s winner is Citizens Bank. The bank’s Citizens Student Checking carries no monthly fees and doesn’t charge out-of-network ATM fees. Additionally, there are no fees for non-sufficient funds (NSF) or overdrafts. Low opening balances offered, with free out-of-network ATMs, Zelle, digital wallets and free exclusive design checks.

Citizens Student Checking is a standout for its commitment to fee-free checking.

  • Low opening balance
  • No fees
  • Free out-of-network ATMs
  • Zelle
  • Digital wallet
  • Free exclusive design checks
  • Small number of ATMs and branches
  • No APY

How we chose the Best Banks of 2023-2024

To determine our list of Best Banks for 2023-2024, Money staff evaluated 273 of the largest retail banks, credit unions, regional and state banks, ranked by assets, and 20 of the most popular online banks. We then compared opening balance requirements, interest paid, fees and features to determine our top picks. You can read our full methodology here.

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