How to Choose the Best Student Bank Account in 2011

Here’s one more thing to add to your back-to-school checklist: a student bank account. Whether you are a new-on-campus freshman or a graduate student, student bank accounts can be the best way for you to handle your finances. Student accounts often come with perks like access to financial advisors, as well as important bonuses like free overdraft protection that will help you ease into the world of managing your money. So what should you keep in mind when choosing a student bank account?

–          Do you qualify for a student account at this bank? Some banks require you to be enrolled in a full-time program, while others will grant student accounts to part-time or continuing education students as well. Some will even give young clients access to a similar bank account program even if they are not enrolled as students. Do your research to see where you fit in.

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–          What kind of loans will you need? If you are planning on borrowing money to help you get through school, you may need a bank loan in addition to a federal student loan. Find out if your student account will make you eligible for any extended loan programs that will allow you to start paying back after graduation.

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–          Does your account come with a line of credit? Even if you’ve never had a credit card before, it’s important to get one now and start building credit. But don’t let that become an excuse for living beyond your means. College can be a time of new opportunities, and without adult supervision, it can be tempting to swipe your new credit card to pay for a flat-screen TV, a brand-new wardrobe, or even a birthday gift for your girlfriend from one of those diamond stores in the mall. Use your credit card sensibly and pay it off often to slowly build a good credit score. In 2011, it’s not a good idea to buy diamonds or high-end electronics unless you can really afford it.

–          Does this bank offer the convenience and access that you need? A small, local bank may offer a tempting deal with perks and bonuses, but keep in mind your own weakness for hitting up ATM’s in your neighborhood instead of trekking out to your bank. Withdrawing from ATM’s belonging to other banks these days can often cost up to $5 per withdrawal—those fees can add up fast. Consider joining a bank with many branches and ATMs in your area to avoid ATM fees.

–          Most college students these days rely on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones to help them do everything from do research and write papers to socialize and date. You can also use your phone to help you manage your money responsibly. Many banks that offer student accounts now also have smartphone applications that can help you check your balance and make transfers on the go. If you download a banking app, be sure to password-protect it with a secure code that you change often.

–          Sooner or later, you are going to want to make some major purchases—a better laptop for a video editing course, some furniture for your first real apartment, and a car. Eventually, there will be even bigger purchases—a house, a wedding ring. Get started in good financial habits now by choosing a bank that will teach you how to handle credit responsibly.

–          What does the bank expect you to do after graduation? Find out about the payment plan for any student loans you may have taken out—does the bank expect you to start paying immediately upon graduating, or when you get your first job? Will you be able to keep your current account or will you have to transfer to a regular account that may have checking minimums and fees?

Article written by Whiteflash.

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