Start the New School Year by Opening a Student Bank Account

Starting a new school year can come with a lot of changes and new responsibilities. Students who are going to college for the first time get to experience their first taste of independence – and with it comes a host of new financial challenges as they learn how to manage their money responsibly.

At Addition Financial, we talk to students and parents every day about the financial challenges of young adulthood. One of the things we recommend is opening a student bank account, something that can be useful for any college student. Here are some of the reasons we recommend a student account and some information on what to look for in terms of features.

What is a Student Savings or Checking Account?

Let’s start with the basics. A student checking account is an account that’s designed for the needs and challenges of students. These accounts may offer some of the following features:

  • Money management tools
  • Free debit card
  • No minimum balance requirements

A student savings account is similarly designed for students. In some cases, these accounts incentivize saving by paying dividends or interest with no minimum balance requirement.

At Addition Financial, we offer an array of youth and student bank accounts. We waive the membership fee for these accounts and do our best to incentivize our youngest members to learn financial literacy from an early age.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Student Bank Account?

There are qualities that are essential to have in a good student bank account. Not all accounts are designed with students in mind.

Here are some of the qualities and features to look for before you open a student bank account:

  1. Low or no fees. As we mentioned above, we waive membership fees for our student bank accounts because we believe in helping students get a financial leg up whenever possible.
  2. Free debit card. Students need a secure way to spend, and a debit card with chip technology offers the option of contactless payment that’s secure.
  3. Financial tools and education. Ideally, your student account should be with an institution that prioritizes financial education and empowerment and provides an array of resources and tools to help students learn how to manage their money. Addition Financial offers a free mobile banking app and other digital banking tools to all members, including students.
  4. On-campus ATMs. Busy students don’t have time to run around town looking for an ATM when they need cash. A good student banking account is one with a credit union or bank that has ATMs on campus.
  5. No minimum balance requirement. It’s not uncommon for accounts that can earn dividends or interest to have a minimum balance requirement. Students may need their money for routine expenses, but they should still be able to earn money on their deposits.
  6. Refunds on foreign ATM fees. Even if your financial institution has on-campus ATMs, there may be times you need to withdraw money when you’re off campus or in your home state. A good student account should offer refunds of some foreign ATM fees; at Addition Financial, we will refund up to four foreign ATM fees per year, although you may still need to pay surcharges.

When you’re evaluating student accounts, look for these features to ensure that you have what you need to manage your money.

back to school savings checklist

What Do You Need to Open a Student Bank Account?

Opening a student checking or student savings account isn’t substantially different from opening any other account, but there are a few key differences that you should know about.


The first thing you will need to do is determine your eligibility for the account in question. Most financial institutions have requirements for accounts. For example, the Addition Financial Aspire Checking Account is designed for college students. Here are the requirements for account opening:

Anyone who lives, works, worships, attends school or vocational training, or is an alumni of any college, university, or educational institution located in 24 select counties may join.

Provided that you live in one of the counties in our service area and attend school there, you may open an Aspire Checking Account.

A Student ID

Most financial institutions, including Addition Financial, require the use of a student identification card to verify the account holder’s student status.

If you open an Aspire Checking account with us, you will need to select Student ID as your form of identification, enter the required information from your ID, and also select “College Student” in response to the “How did you hear about us?” section.

A Deposit

The final thing you’ll need is some money to deposit in your account to open it. We waive the $5 membership fee for all student accounts, so you won’t need to worry about that. You will need to put something in your account to open it.

Some financial institutions may have a minimum deposit requirement. You should make sure to read the fine print before you open any student account.

What Are the Benefits of Opening a Student Bank Account?

As a student, you can take advantage of an array of financial tools and discounts designed to help you navigate life on campus. We’re big believers in student accounts because they offer benefits that you wouldn’t be able to get with a regular checking account.

Minimal Fees

The first benefit of opening a student bank account is one we have already mentioned. Many financial institutions, including Addition Financial, waive fees or reduce them for student accounts.

Our membership fee is $5 but we waive it for all youth and student accounts. That’s because we believe in setting our youngest members up for a lifetime of financial success. Some financial institutions may offer a reduced or waived monthly service fee. 

Low or No Minimum Balance

It’s common for traditional savings and checking accounts to have a minimum balance requirement, especially those accounts that pay high dividends or interest. These minimum balances may be unattainably high for the average college student.

Student banking accounts often have no minimum balance requirement, meaning that students won’t be penalized if their balance drops. They can still earn dividends even with a low balance. Addition Financial student members are not required to have a minimum balance to earn dividends on their deposits.

Overdraft Protection

What happens if you’re a student and you write a check that bounces? With a traditional account, you might be on the hook for an overdraft fee from your financial institution and potentially a fee from the payee on the bounced check.

It’s common for student accounts to provide free overdraft protection to help students avoid an overdraft fee if they make a mistake. There may be a limit on overdraft protection, so you should be sure to read the fine print and ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand.

Waived ATM Fees

ATM fees can add up, especially if you find yourself in a position where you need to use an out-of-network (foreign) ATM to withdraw cash or deposit money. Some ATM networks charge $5 or more for a single transaction, and that’s something that can put a big strain on the typical college student budget.

Addition Financial’s student accounts offer refunds of up to four foreign ATM fees per year, making it easy for students to access their money where and when they need it.

Membership Benefits

Finally, if you choose to open a student checking account with a credit union, you’ll get access to a host of membership benefits that you wouldn’t get if you opened an account at a bank. Some of the benefits of Addition Financial membership include the following:

  • Discounted insurance policies
  • Discounted Sam’s Club membership
  • Discounted tickets to theme parks and events
  • Discounted car rentals
  • Discounted tax preparation services

As a student account holder, you’ll get access to the same benefits that you would with a regular account. We have a full list of membership benefits that you can view here.

What Happens to a Student Bank Account When You Graduate?

A question we are often asked has to do with what happens to a student account when you graduate. Since students must prove their status with a student ID, it’s natural to wonder what will happen to your account after graduation day.

Most financial institutions that offer student accounts won’t allow you to maintain a student account after you graduate. That said, they don’t want to lose your business. In most cases, the solution is to offer students the option to convert their student account to a traditional checking account.

We handle things a little differently with the Addition Financial Aspire account. The account has a maximum duration of five years, so at the end of five years it converts to a general membership account. The only significant change for the account holder is that the minimum balance requirement is no longer waived, so they will have to carry a cumulative average daily balance of $250 or get a personal loan, credit card or meet the direct deposit requirements to keep their account in good standing.

Opening a student bank account can help you get the new school year off to a positive start. Make sure to choose your account carefully. Remember, opening a credit union student account comes with an array of benefits, including member discounts, minimal fees and deals to help you stretch your budget.

Are you looking for a student checking account to start your college career? Addition Financial’s Aspire Checking has all the features you need plus membership benefits. Click here to learn more and open an account.

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.