Tips for picking the right accounts and services.
It doesn't matter if you are studying history or biology, every college student is going to get a bonus lesson in money and personal finance. Consider it your orientation to the real world!
This is an evolutionary stage in your banking life, as you begin to experience the independence and freedom of managing your own money. Your bank can be one of your greatest allies, not only at this initial stage in your life but as you grow in your career after graduation. This is why it’s so important to consider what you need from your bank and how the bank can help you meet your financial needs and obligations.
Many banks have special student accounts with services and rates geared to your level of financial activity. Below you’ll find a summary of points to look for so that you can get the most from your student account. For more information, please visit Bank of America’s Ultimate Money Skills website and the Student Center.
Download the Student Financial Handbook.
Location and Accessibility
Once you’re on your own, you may be surprised by how often you need to access your account, whether online, by phone, or in person. Even if you don’t need any face time at your bank, you may make frequent visits to its ATM. So consider a bank with branches or ATMs near your home and school. You might also find it convenient to have a branch located in your hometown.
Online and Mobile Banking
You’re busy with classes and assignments, so the last thing you need to worry about is your bank balance. You need an account that you can access using your laptop or cell phone. Then you can monitor your balance and help avoid overdraft charges. Most importantly, check if there is a fee for this service. And find out about automated email alerts that can send a message to your personal email, cell phone or smart phone, which you can customize depending on the account information you want to receive.
Some banks offer online chat with a banking specialist, which is a great way to ask questions while you're "shopping around" for a bank. Once you're a customer, this service can be a real time-saver too.
You need protection for your money and identity. Peace of mind comes with an account that is monitored for suspicious behavior. Better yet, you want the bank to contact you if they think something funny is going on. And if your account information is compromised and money disappears, check to make sure you’re not on the hook for these fradulent transactions.
Checking accounts are convenient because you can pay bills online or with checks, saving you the time and cost of a visit to the bank. All purchases, whether by cash, check or debit card, come directly from your account, so you can monitor your balance and know exactly how much money you have on hand. Here’s where shopping around is key: There is usually a monthly fee involved (from about $5 to $25, depending on the services). But there are ways to avoid fees by, for example, maintaining a minimum balance or having a direct deposit. And some banks offer students special waivers on monthly maintenance fees for a period of time.
These accounts can be handy if you need a place to put some cash for a rainy day. They are often “free” of service charges, if you maintain a certain minimum balance, set up monthly automatic transfers from your checking to savings and limit the number of withdrawals.
Debit and ATM Cards
These cards are tied to your checking and/or savings accounts, allowing you to access your money at ATM machines and to use the funds from your accounts to make purchases. The convenience factor is undeniable—but watch out for potential fees. Try to anticipate your monthly activities and use your card in ways that help minimize fees.
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Some accounts and services, and the fees that apply to them, vary from state to state. Please review the information for your state in the Personal Schedule of Fees (at www.bankofamerica.com/feesataglance or at your local Banking Center) and in the Online Banking Service Agreement at www.bankofamerica.com/serviceagreement.