A checking account is a back-to-school essential for many college students, but the options can be overwhelming and the fine print can be confusing.
Checking accounts come with benefits as well as terms and conditions that any smart consumer should weigh before signing up, as GOBankingRates points out in a new analysis.
Perhaps the first factor to consider is location, as some bank accounts are unavailable in some regions of the country, according to the analysis.
GOBankingRates examined factors such as whether a checking account:
- Requires a monthly fee.
- Requires a minimum opening deposit.
- Requires a minimum balance to avoid fees.
- Offers access to ATMs.
- Offers online and mobile banking.
- Offers 24-hour customer service by phone.
The analysis identified 10 checking accounts that have either none of the requirements or just a few, yet also offer all or most of the features. None of the top 10 banks requires a monthly fee or minimum balance to avoid fees, and all of them offer ATM access and online and mobile banking.
The top 10 accounts are:
- Ally Bank’s Interest Checking
- TD Bank’s Student Checking
- Capital One’s 360 Checking
- Discover Bank’s Discover Cashback Checking
- Bank of America’s Core Checking
- Chase Bank’s Chase College Checking
- PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet Student
- BB&T’s Student Checking
- USAA’s College Checking
- Regions Bank’s LifeGreen Checking for Students
Also noteworthy is that two of these checking accounts — those from Ally and TD Bank — pay interest.
GOBankingRates’ analysis did not address overdraft fees, however. To learn more about them, check out “On-Campus Banks Charge High Overdraft Fees.”
What has been your experience with checking accounts? Would you recommend yours to others? Share your thoughts below or over on our Facebook page.