Headed off to college? Don’t forget banking 101

green road sign that reads College just ahead

Heading to college brings all kinds of heavy financial decisions. Often, choosing a student bank account is last on your list of things to do. But if you plan ahead, you can avoid making some expensive missteps.

Things to consider before signing up for a student checking account

  • Do your homework. You’ll have a lot of options, but once you get to campus, you probably won’t have a lot of time. Take the time to look into what banking options are available before you arrive. Some colleges have relationships with banks or credit unions, but it is important to do research and remember you don’t have to bank there. Sometimes, as this story in the Wall Street Journal reported, these financial institution relationships don’t necessarily work out in a student’s favor.
  • Utilize online & mobile options. With technology advancements in the banking industry, you’re not necessarily limited to banks with branches or ATMs near campus anymore. Mobile banking apps and online platforms now offer remote deposits, online bill-pay, money transfers between accounts, and other banking features. Meaning, you don’t necessarily need physical access to your bank.
  • Keep an eye on bank 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). Make sure you ask in advance what you’ll be on the hook for.
  • 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 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.

Benefits of student banking with Adirondack Regional Federal Credit Union