Best Checking Account for College Students

Summary

  • The best checking account for most college students (or any adult really) is the Charles Schwab Bank checking account
  • Free access to your cash at any ATM world wide (through Schwab’s unlimited ATM fee rebates world wide)
  • No service fees or account balance minimums
  • Pays 0.15% APY
  • Free Bill Pay, free standard checks, free Visa Platinum Debit Card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • You can open a linked Schwab One Brokerage account at the same time as the Schwab Bank Checking account. You would be all set when you’re ready to invest your money. Get $100 bonus for opening a Schwab One Brokerage account (with a minimum $1000 deposit) as a referral from us.

We sent three kids off to college over the past few years. What were among the advice we gave them? Open a Charles Schwab Bank Checking account. We are offering you the same advice we give to our children. Nothing can be more truthful and sincere than that.

Charles Schwab BankHere are some facts you should know

Charles Schwab Bank is primarily an online bank. It is affiliated with Charles Schwab discount broker which has which has branch offices throughout the United States.

Pays 0.15% APR/Interest. That’s respectable. Other major banks pays 0.01%. Really? What an insult! Keep your savings in our recommended online savings account for 1.15% APR/interest.

No Required Minimum Balance or Monthly Service Fees. There are no minimum balance requirements or monthly service fees. Other major banks can charge up to $25/month service fee or require that you keep a balance of $10,000 daily balance to waive the month service fee.

Free to Use Any ATM World Wide. Whenever you access your account from out-of-network ATMs, there is usually an ATM surcharge or fee. Not Schwab. Out-of-network ATM charges are promptly and automatically reimbursed at the end of each monthly period. These reimbursements are clearly itemized on the monthly statement.

Schwab ATM fee rebate
Schwab  Bank’s ATM fee rebate on monthly statement, making it free to use any ATM world wide.

The maximum daily ATM withdrawal limit is $1000. But if you need a higher limit than that, simply call Schwab Bank and make special arrangements.

No Foreign Transaction Fees When Accessing Your ATM Abroad. Many credit cards and debit cards charge foreign transaction fees up to 3% of the transaction amount when you use your card abroad for purchases or access cash via ATM. Not Schwab. Use it to travel and backpack the world. Our children did this quite successfully. All you pay is is Schwab’s competitive foreign currency exchange rates, which fluctuates daily with the currency exchanges.

Deposits Are Easy with Mobile App. Download the Schwab Bank app (available for iOS, Android) to your smartphone and use the “Deposit” feature to snap a photo of the front and back of your endorsed check. Easy enough.

ACH Transfers to Other Banks Take Up to Three Days. It is easy within Schwab.com online account to establish linkages with your other accounts. I use the trial deposit method to link with my other accounts, instead of providing my login information for other financial institutions. This is where Schwab Bank would temporarily make two small deposits (each less than $1) into your other financial institution. You login the other institution to find out what those two amounts are and enter that into Schwab.com to prove that you own the other account. Once your account linkage is established, it takes about three business/banking days to transfer money to/from your other financial accounts.

Other Fees. Disclosures for other fees are shown in the tables below. For example, the charge for “deposit item returned” is only $5. Other banks can charge up to $50! No overdraft protection fees, to pull funds from your linked Schwab One Brokerage account.

Schwab Bank's fees
Schwab Bank’s fees

Here is a complete listing of Schwab Bank’s fees.

What Do You Need to Provide To Open An Account? Standard information like your address, phone, email and social security number – so they can report your “windfall” interest payments to the IRS. 😉

Here’s What We Recommend
  1. Establish a Schwab Bank Checking account, along with a linked Schwab One Brokerage account. You can get a $100 bonus for opening a brokerage account with an intial $1000 deposit as a personal referral from us. Click here for more details.
    1. Establish direct deposit if you have a job with payroll direct deposit service.
    2. Deposit paper checks with the Schwab Bank mobile app.
    3. Setup Bill Pay to pay for your electricity, water, internet bills electronically.
    4. Withdraw cash from any ATM worldwide using your Schwab Bank Checking account Visa debit card.
  2. After you have established a checking account, consider opening a Discover Savings account when you have accumulated a few thousand dollars of “savings”. That is funds that you do not need access on a daily basis.
  3. Establish a link to your Schwab Checking account from your Discover Bank savings account, as we outlined above. And other banks/credit unions that you have.
  4. Transfer your “savings” at the end of each calendar month into your Discover Savings account. If you reliably save the same amount each month, you can even setup recurring deposits where Discover Bank automatically pull the same dollar amount form your other financial institution on the same date each calendar month.

This would be a great start to your financial future. Mull this over but don’t wait too long to take action. Good luck.

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