Student Finances 101: 8 Features to Look for in a Student Checking Account

One of the most important things parents can do for their children is to teach them how to manage their finances. When kids are taught about saving money, maintaining good credit, investing and other topics, they’re more likely to lead financially secure lives. One of the best ways to get them started is by opening a student checking account.

At Addition Financial, we offer a student checking account to help our younger members who are still in school learn how to manage their money. It comes with some special features that are designed to promote financial literacy and encourage students to learn how to manage their money. Here are eight features to look for in a student checking account.

Why Do I Need a Student Checking Account?

Very young students — those still in elementary school or middle school — probably don’t need a checking account, although they can benefit from having a savings account. Older students who are in high school or college should have a checking account because it’s a necessary tool as they learn to navigate the world and use their money.

A student checking account represents an important step on the road to financial independence. A checking account makes it possible for working students to sign up for direct deposit with their employers. 

With a student bank account, students get a debit card that they can use to get cash at an ATM or to pay for necessary purchases. Whether they’re buying lunch on a break from a part-time job, going out with their friends or paying for shared dorm room expenses, having a checking account means they can pay their way. They can use their checking account to sign up for automatic bill pay and start building good credit.

The right student account makes dealing with student finances easy. The best student checking accounts provide access to online banking and mobile banking plus an array of financial management tools. 

Is a student checking account secure?

One of the biggest concerns that parents and students mention to us is the risk associated with a student checking account. Here’s what you need to know about student checking account security.

The first thing is that most checking accounts are protected by insurance. Credit union accounts are insured by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) up to $250,000 while bank accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to the same amount. Addition Financial’s student checking accounts are insured by the NCUA.

The second thing to keep in mind is that financial institutions prioritize security. Websites and mobile apps use encryption to protect account holders. Today’s credit cards and debit cards use chip technology to make them secure.

The third and final thing to know about student checking accounts and security is that having a checking account is one of the best ways we know to help students learn about the elements of security that they can control. That means setting a strong password for online banking, keeping their PIN private, taking advantage of two-factor authentication and not sharing their account information with anybody they don’t trust.

How to open a student checking account

The process of opening a student checking account isn’t complicated. Here are the steps to follow: (Keep in mind that requirements may vary depending on which financial institution you choose.)

  • Verify your eligibility. Some credit unions and banks have an age limit for student checking accounts. If you want a credit union account, you’ll need to check to make sure you qualify for membership.
  • Pay membership fees. If you get a credit union student checking account, you may need to pay a membership fee. At Additional Financial, we waive the $10 membership fee for student accounts.
  • Open a savings account. At some credit unions, including Addition Financial, you must open a savings account to become a member.
  • Confirm your student status. Requirements may vary depending upon where you do your banking, but you’ll need to be enrolled in school to qualify for a student checking account.
  • Bring a photo ID. You’ll need to verify your identity before you can open a student checking account. 
  • Make an initial deposit. Some financial institutions require a minimum deposit. We don’t have a minimum amount at Addition Financial.

Follow these easy steps to open your student checking account and take control of your financial future.

8 Features to prioritize in a student checking account

Now, let’s review some of the features to look for before you choose a student checking account. 

#1: No monthly service fee

The first thing to look for is an account that doesn’t charge a monthly fee. While many student checking accounts waive the monthly maintenance fee, some do not. 

Our Addition Financial Student Checking Account has no monthly maintenance fee, which means that students can keep their money instead of paying fees. 

#2: Overdraft protection

Overdraft protection is there to help students who may still be learning how to balance their checkbook and manage their finances. It’s not common for student checking accounts to come with unlimited overdraft protection, but having some protection may be useful.

For example, our student checking account comes with one free overdraft protection transfer per month. If a student has an overdraft, we’ll automatically transfer funds from their linked savings account to cover the check or purchase and help them avoid an overdraft fee.

#3: Debit card with chip technology

Checking accounts typically come with a free debit card. You should look for an account that provides a free ATM card.

Some of the features to look for in a debit card include tap-to-pay contactless technology and an EMV chip. Students may like to have the option to choose their own debit card design, and that’s something we offer at Addition Financial.

#4: Free checks

While the use of paper checks has dwindled thanks to the accessibility of online bill pay and peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo and Zelle, it’s still a good idea to have a few checks on hand in case you need them. 

Because you won’t write many checks as a student, you shouldn’t need to pay for them. Look for a student checking account that provides a supply of free checks.

#5: No minimum balance requirement

Certain checking accounts have a minimum balance requirement, but since most students don’t have high income (and may have significant ongoing expenses), it makes sense to choose a student checking account that doesn’t require a minimum balance.

Our student checking account has no minimum balance requirement, which means that it’s equipped to handle students’ fluctuating income and expenses.

#6: Access to secure digital and mobile banking

Online banking and mobile banking are so common now that it would be a mistake to choose any student checking account that didn’t offer robust options for both.

Any student who opens a checking account with Addition Financial gets access to our secure digital banking features and our secure mobile app. Both are designed to make it easy to access and manage your money as a student.

#7: Financial education

One of the most important aspects of having a student checking account is getting access to resources provided by your financial institution, including free tools like calculators and guides, and financial education in the form of blog posts, podcasts and more.

Students who want to learn how to manage their money will do best if they choose a financial institution like Addition Financial. We have an active blog, social media, guides, calculators and other tools and resources to help you learn how to manage your personal finances for a secure future.

#8: Special features

Some student checking accounts come with an array of special features. For example, our student checking account includes the following:

  • 4 ATM fee rebates per month
  • Free coin machine access
  • A .25% discount on consumer loans
  • The AddsUp Savings Program, which rounds up every debit card purchase to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference in your Share Savings Account
  • School pride ATM card designs for UCF, Seminole State College and Valencia College
  • PayEarly, which gives you access to qualifying direct deposits up to 2 days before your regular payday
  • Access to our MEMBERS Financial Services

These features offer students the opportunity to make the most of their money and secure a bright financial future.

Tips to manage your student checking account

Once you have a student checking account, what’s the best way to manage it? Here are some tips to help you:

  • Keep track of your transactions and even if you don’t write checks, use a spreadsheet or a budgeting tool to make sure your account is balanced each month.
  • Create a strong password for online banking and enable two-factor authentication. In most cases, this will mean using a fingerprint for your mobile app and/or getting a texted code when you log in to online banking.
  • Never give your account information or password to anybody you don’t trust.
  • Familiarize yourself with common financial scams and take a skeptical approach to any unsolicited requests.
  • Sign up for fraud alerts and account monitoring.
  • If you have a job, sign up for direct deposit to avoid waiting for your paycheck to clear.

By managing your checking account properly, you can set yourself up for financial success.

Get student checking with Addition Financial

Having a student checking account makes it easy to collect paychecks, pay bills, and use a secure ATM card for purchases. The 8 features we’ve listed here will help you research accounts and find the best student checking account for your needs.

Are you looking for a student checking account with no monthly fee, free checks and an array of other features? Addition Financial is here to help! Click here to learn about our student checking account and open your own account today.

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.