Going to college? Don't forget Banking 101
Choose A Bank Account for College
Heading to college brings all kinds of heavy financial decisions. Often, choosing a bank account is last on your list of things to do. But if you plan ahead, you can avoid making some expensive missteps. Consider this advice before signing up for a checking account on campus.
- Do your homework. You’ll have a lot of options, but once you get on campus, you probably won’t have a lot of time. Try to look into what’s available before you show up. (Some colleges have relationships with banks or credit unions, but you don’t have to bank there. Sometimes, as this story in the Wall Street Journal reported, these relationships don’t necessarily work out in your favor.)
You’re not necessarily limited to banks with branches or ATMs near campus. Remote deposit, online bill-pay and other features mean you don’t necessarily need physical access to your bank.
- Keep an eye on fees. Some banks charge for using your ATM card out of network or if your account balance dips below a certain amount. Overdraft fees can also take a big chunk out of your account. (Tip: If a bank offers overdraft protection, turn it down. We know, it’s counterintuitive. But rather than charge you $35 or more per transaction if you don’t have the money in your account, you’ll simply get denied.) In any case, make sure you ask in advance what you’ll be on the hook for.
You can use your Adirondack Regional ATM card for free at more than 30,000 ATMs across the country.
- Get direct deposit. Sometimes, your financial aid award includes money your school distributes after deducting for tuition, room, board and other fees. Often, it’s quicker to receive this money electronically than by waiting for a check. If you sign up for direct deposit as soon as possible, you’ll get your money more quickly. (Your school may also prefer to pay student job wages via direct deposit. And you won’t have to deal with paper checks.)