Being a student doesn’t mean you have to go without the conveniences of a checking account because you believe fees will eat up all of your money. Banks are well aware that students often don’t have a lot of income or savings. They create checking accounts tailor-made for small balances and features students want.
Banks are playing the long-game when it comes to students. While small student checking accounts aren’t money-makers, banks are betting that you’ll stay with them after graduation, when your income is much higher. In fact, research by Third Way found that college graduates will earn approximately $900,000 more than high school graduates.
Students will find a lot of benefits to using a student-oriented checking account. These include no fees, easy access to ATMs, debit card, in some cases free checks, and a mobile app. Let’s look at a few top banks that are great for student checking accounts.
Featured Bank: Chase College Checking℠. These accounts are free and come with a debit card, and mobile access. Sign up here.
The Best Free Checking Account Options
Based on that criteria above, here are our choices for the best free checking accounts available.
1. Chase College Checking℠
The Chase College Checking℠ account is one of the best checking accounts designed for students. Students between the ages of 17-24 don’t have to worry about maintenance fees. You can have the fee waived for up to fives years as a student. This account comes with a debit card, and you’ll have mobile access.
And right now, you can get up to a $100 bonus when you open a new account, enroll in paperless statements, and complete 10 qualifying transactions within 60 days! That’s awesome!
Chase College Checking℠ has no monthly service fee for up to five years if you’re a student between 17 and 24.
Why I Like It: A great account opening bonus for a student checking account, with one of the largest, most well known banks in the United States.
Learn more about Chase College Checking℠ here.
$6* (waived when requirements met)
AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV
2. BBVA ClearConnect Checking
BBVA ClearConnect Checking is a lesser known bank nationwide, but they do offer nationwide free checking! However, where BBVA really shines is in it’s access to ATMs.
Furthermore, there is no real requirements to maintain free checking at BBVA. They do charge for paper statements (and it’s opt-out), but once you opt-out, you don’t have to worry about making enough direct deposits or having a minimum balance.
This isn’t directly a college student checking account, but it’s simply a great checking account option.
Why I Like It: Easy online banking without worrying about minimums.
Learn more about BBVA ClearConnect Checking here.
BBVA ClearConnect Checking
3. Chime Free Checking
Chime was one of the original free mobile banking apps that revolutionized mobile banking. They started with a mobile-first mindset, and also wanted to keep fees as low as possible.
Chime really started it’s focus on college students when it launched – being mobile first across the board.
As such, they have a top notching free checking account if you’re okay with a mobile only platform. Chime has no physical locations, and all of their banking is done online – in the app.
Why I Like It: Free mobile banking.
Learn more about Chime Free Checking here. Check out our Chime Bank Review here.
4. HSBC Choice Checking
HSBC is another national bank that doesn’t directly have a college checking product, but does have a great checking account that can make sense for college students.
They are very mobile friendly, and have a large network of ATMs.
As long as you maintain a minimum balance of $1,500 or have one direct deposit per month, you’ll pay no monthly maintenance fees
Why I Like It: Nationwide, with easy ways to avoid monthly fees.
Learn more about HSBC Choice Checking here.
$15* (waived when requirements met)
5. Aspiration Summit Checking
Aspiration is an online bank that has been making headlines for not only paying a good interest rate on your money, but also by offering free ATM withdrawals as well.
This is another bank that isn’t targeted towards college students directly, but offers a great product!
The Aspiration Summit Checking Account has no fees, and not ATM fees (even overseas). They also pay a solid interest on your money.
Why I Like It: Interest bearing and no ATM fees.
Learn more about Aspiration Summit Checking here.
Aspiration Summit Checking
Up to 2.00% APY as of March 1, 2019
Unlimited via ATM fee reimbursement
6. Ally Bank Checking
Ally Bank is one of the most well-known internet only banks around, and they have a great free checking account that matches their brand. This isn’t directly a student checking account, but it continues to show that you don’t need a student branded account to have a great product.
They are known for solid customer service and great banking products. They have no monthly fee free checking, and a great mobile app that allows mobile check deposit.
Why I Like It: Well known free checking brand.
Learn more about Ally Bank Checking here.
Up to 0.60% APY as of March 1, 2019
43,000 Free ATMs, Up To $10 In Reimbursement/Mo
7. Capital One 360 Checking
Capital One 360 Checking is another online banking giant that has been around for a long time. This is another long time free checking account that has a lot of popularity.
Capital One 360 Checking has several innovative features that you don’t see at other banks. First, they have no foreign transaction fees if you use your ATM card overseas. Second, they have an overdraft option where you can basically opt for a personal loan instead.
Why I Like It: Solid online bank with innovative features.
Learn more about Capital One 360 Checking here.
Up to 1.00% APY as of March 1, 2019
8. US Bank Student Checking
US Bank Student Checking offers the features you are probably getting familiar with by now.
The minimum deposit to open an account is $25. You’ll receive a Visa debit card to use for shopping and ATMs. If there is no U.S. Bank ATMs near you, the first four non-U.S. Bank ATMs are free per statement cycle.
You’ll also receive your first set of checks for free. A mobile app is included as well. There is a $2 monthly maintenance fee that can be waived by signing up for paperless statements.
Why I Like It: Free checking, nationwide availability.
Learn more about US Bank Student Checking here.
$2* (waived when requirements met)
Large network of nationwide ATMs
9. USAA Classic Checking
USAA Classic Checking is a great choice for free checking if you qualify to have a USAA Account. USAA limits membership to servicemembers and DOD employees and their families, so that could be a bar to entry for some.
USAA used to brand their checking as a student checking account, but now it’s just it’s same USAA Classic Checking with some special pages for college students.
If you do qualify for USAA, then their USAA Classic Checking is a great product, with no fee checking, free checks, online BillPay, and ATM free reimbursements.
Why I Like It: Free checking, free checks, great mobile app for those that qualify for USAA.
Learn more about USAA Classic Checking here.
Up to 0.01% APY as of December 18, 2018
Up To 10 Free ATM Withdrawals
Nationwide for USAA Members
10. nbkc Bank Checking
nbkc Bank Checking is a great free checking account if you’re looking for a checking account that earns interest, has no minimum, and an easy to use mobile app.
This isn’t a direct college student account, but it does have great options that make it on the list!
They offer truly free checking, and even offer free checks and a network of free ATMs. They also have mobile check deposit, which they offer for free.
Why I Like It: Free checking, free checks, and free mobile check deposit.
Learn more about nbkc Bank Checking here.
Up to 1.01% APY as of March 1, 2019
Network of 32,000 ATMs and up to $12/mo in reimbursements
What Students Need In A Checking Account
Students are typically new to the banking system. They might not have much income. They also might not have a job yet (for direct deposit), or have other accounts at the bank.
As such, they have unique requirements that we wanted to share, so that you can see how we based our criteria for the best student checking accounts.
In order to be one of the best student checking accounts, we put the following criteria in place:
- No Monthly Maintenance Fees: This is a big one. All of the accounts we consider must not charge a monthly maintenance fee. Note, some of these accounts may convert after school, but this ranking is specific to college student checking accounts.
- No Or Low Monthly Balance Required: You shouldn’t have to have huge amounts of money to waive fees or qualify for a free checking account. We only look for banks that don’t have a monthly minimum balance requirement or if they do, it’s incredibly low.
- No Direct Deposit Requirement: Many students don’t have jobs yet, so it can be hard or impossible to get direct deposit. As such, we don’t want banks to require direct deposit for free checking.
- Awesome Online Access: The best free checking accounts will also have awesome online access, a great app or mobile site, and be accessible anywhere.
- No ATM Fees: College students are on the move. They should be able to access their money for free, where ever they are.
These are the best free college student checking accounts right now.
You might also want to look at these key resources:
And remember, these accounts are usually only free while you’re in college. At that point in time, some of these accounts will convert into other products, which may or may not charge fees. Plan accordingly!