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The 6 Best Student Checking Accounts in 2023

Sep 5, 2023
Advertiser disclosure

Student bank accounts are typically designed for college students who may hold low balances and spend modestly. Most waive maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements, and offer free ATM withdrawals. 

The best ones are integrated with budgeting apps to empower you on your financial journey. These accounts will let students set aside budgets for important expenses, set up automatic savings, waive international transaction fees, and even build credit with a secure card. 

Banks place age limits on their student account offerings and tend to change their fee structures once you graduate. To help you make an informed choice, this guide will explore both traditional bank options and innovative alternatives like Chime, ensuring you find the best student bank account in 2023 that suits your needs.

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Chime was our choice for best student checking account in 2023. Free to download and register, Chime offers user-friendly and high-quality tools to help students build a strong financial future.

In addition to no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements, Chime offers:

  • an optional credit builder Visa® credit card;
  • an optional high-yield savings account;
  • a large network of over 60,000 ATMs;
  • fast payment network between Chime members.

1. Chime — Best Overall Checking Account for Students in 2023

Chime stands out as our top choice for the best student checking account in 2023, offering freedom from monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements.

With access to a nationwide ATM network of over 60,000 ATMs, you can manage both deposits and withdrawals conveniently. Chime can link with your employer's payroll system, often granting you access to your paycheck up to two days early. Plus, its innovative round-up feature effortlessly funnels spare change into an optional savings account that earns interest (2.00% APY as of September 1st, 2023, although the disclosed rates are subject to change). Once you open a Chime checking account, you'll be eligible for a savings account.

In case you decide to study abroad, Chime's debit card doesn't charge international transaction fees. Furthermore, Chime goes beyond banking by providing an optional Credit Builder Visa Card to help students build credit history. In the app, you can also explore their marketplace for side gigs to supplement your income.

Overall, we have found Chime to be the best financial tool for students. It wide range of features aid in personal finance education and help you build a strong financial foundation for the future.

  • Maintenance Fees: None
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Interest: 2% APY, effective 17 November 2022.
  • Overdraft Fee: Learn more about their SpotMe® program
  • ATM Fee: $2.50 for out-of-network ATM transactions
  • ATM Accessibility: 60,000 7-Eleven MoneyPass ATMs, Allpoint ATMs, and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Member FDIC Partner: Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.
  • Learn More: read our Chime review or visit their website

2. Majority — Best for International Students and Residents in the US

Majority is an excellent account for international students and US residents, especially those without a social security number. For a monthly membership fee of $5.99, you gain access to a US checking account and a suite of features specifically designed for your international lifestyle.

Majority sets itself apart by offering free international phone calls to over 20 countries and an in-app tool that sends mobile top-ups to friends and family overseas. With multilingual customer service and a built-in international money transfer system, Majority can support you through managing your finances and staying connected globally.

Majority's digital checking account has no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirements. It does not charge overdraft or foreign transaction fees, and you can use the app to lock your card at any time. The account can also receive your pay check two days early from your employer by direct deposit.

If you're a student in the US with friends and family abroad, Majority is a great option for international financial management.

  • Membership Fees: $5.99 per month
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Interest: 0% APY
  • Overdraft Fee: None
  • ATM Fee: Out-of-network fee not disclosed
  • ATM Accessibility: 55,000 Allpoint ATMs
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Member FDIC Partner: Banking services and the Majority card provided through Axiom Bank, N.A. or Sutton Bank, Members FDIC.
  • Learn More: read our Majority review or visit their website

3. Current — Best for Cash Back Rewards

Current offers financial tools found in many digital accounts, including no minimum balance fees, no in-network ATM fees, no bank transfer fees, and no monthly maintenance fees. However, it sets itself apart with its savings and its Build card. Current even lets you conveniently deposit paper checks through its mobile app.

Current's Savings Pods boast a great 4% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) as of May 1, 2023, if you set up direct deposits. Otherwise, APY is 0.25% as of May 1, 2023. While rates may fluctuate, this is notably higher than the national average, making your savings work harder for you. Like Chime, Current allows you to round up your transactions and save the spare change.

The real gem is Current's Build Card, which isn't just a secure credit builder; it also offers generous cash back up to 7x points at participating merchants. For other purchases, you accrue 1 point per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for cash or other rewards within the app.

Current provides joint accounts too, making it an ideal choice for high school students looking to access banking services while ensuring visibility and security for parents. The app has an insightful spending tool that tracks all card transactions.

Overall, we think Current is a go-to checking account app for students who want to make the most of cash back and savings.

  • Maintenance Fees: $0 per month
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Interest: Base rate of 0.25% APY, effective 1 May 2023. 4.00% APY, effective 1 May 2023, if you set up direct deposit.
  • Overdraft Fee: Learn more about their optional overdraft program
  • ATM Fee: $2.50 for out-of-network ATM transactions
  • ATM Accessibility: 40,000 Allpoint ATMs
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $3, plus 3%
  • Member FDIC Partner: Banking services provided by Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC, and Cross River Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Learn More: read our Current review or visit their website

4. Capital One MONEY Teen Checking — For Young Students Before College

Capital One MONEY Teen Checking is our top recommendation for young students preparing for college, as it's even available for kids as young as 8 years old. The balances on this account can seamlessly transfer to a Capital One 360 checking account when the student turns 18.

There are no minimum deposit requirement and no monthly fees. The MoneyPass and Allpoint networks of 70,000 ATMs provides easy access to cash too. What sets this account apart, though, is that it's designed as a joint account, allowing parents to actively manage their children's finances, providing both oversight and guidance. For account holders under 18, there's a $500 daily purchase and withdrawal limit in place, along with an auto-decline feature for overdrafts, instilling responsible financial habits from an early age.

Notably, unlike many standard banks, Capital One's 360 checking account has no monthly maintenance fees. This means that graduates won't be burdened with extra costs after they transition away from the MONEY Teen Checking account. It's important to note that Capital One has a limited number of physical branches nationwide, so you should expect a digital-first banking experience. One other drawback to consider is its 0.1% APY on all balances, as of September 1st, 2023.

Capital One MONEY Teen Checking is an ideal choice for young students, offering a smooth transition into financial independence with its fee-free features and parental oversight options.

  • Maintenance Fees: $0 per month
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Interest: 0.1% APY, effective 4 September 2023.
  • Overdraft Fee: None. Overdrafts auto-declined
  • ATM Fee: $2.00 for out-of-network ATM transactions
  • ATM Accessibility: 70,000 Allpoint, MoneyPass, and Capital One ATMs
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $2, plus 3%
  • FDIC Insured: Capital One, N.A., Member FDIC.
  • Learn More: read our Capital One FX guide or visit their website

5. Dave — Best for Up to $500 Interest-Free Cash Advances

While many cash advance apps out there offer an average cash advance of $200, Dave is the best suited for students in our opinion because it offers one of the largest cash advances at $500. In addition, Dave offers a user-friendly checking account with no minimum balance requirements, a round-up feature, and allowing you to get paid up to two days early by direct deposit. However, membership does cost a marginal $1 per month.

The Dave Mastercard offers cash back rewards up to 15%. Like Chime, Dave also opens doors to gig work, providing opportunities to boost your income. Dave partners with MoneyPass, granting you access to a vast network of 40,000 fee-free ATMs nationwide. As of September 1, 2023, Dave offers a competitive 4% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on savings, though it's essential to note that rates may fluctuate over time.

Dave's ExtraCash™ service is a $500 cash advance with no interest or late fees. If you find yourself tight on budget or facing an unexpected expense, Dave has your back. It can spot you $500, eliminating the need to worry about overdraft fees with your traditional bank. Simply pay it off on the flexible payback date, which will be set within the app. ExtraCash™ eligibility requirements, such as spending and paycheck history, may apply.

Dave is a good option to consider if you're a student in a financial bind, providing a safety net for those unexpected financial challenges.

dave app dave card

  • Membership Fees: $1 per month
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Interest: 4% APY, effective 1 August 2023.
  • Overdraft Fee: Learn more about their overdraft program
  • ATM Fee: $2.50 for out-of-network ATM transactions
  • ATM Accessibility: 40,000 Allpoint ATMs
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Member FDIC Partner: Banking services and the Dave Debit Card provided by Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC.
  • Learn More: read our comparison guide or visit visit their website

6. Chase Bank College Checking — Traditional Account for Future Planning

We recommend Chase as a brick-and-mortar big bank to consider when preparing for your major banking needs beyond college. Their Chase Bank College Checking Account caters to students aged 17 to 24 and has no minimum deposit requirement and no monthly service fee until after graduation (up to five years post-account opening). As one of the world's largest banks, Chase boasts branches all throughout the continental United States. Unlike the digital accounts on this list, Chase is brick-and-mortar and does provide access to in-person banking services.

However, you should expect traditional big bank fees with Chase. Overdrafts will cost you $34 each. While Chase offers a network of about 15,000 ATMs nationwide, non-Chase ATM transactions come with a $3 fee. Lastly, Chase's savings account yields no interest, offering 0% APY, making it the least beneficial choice in this regard.

Chase does provide a sign-on bonus of $100, which is an attractive feature. To qualify, students must complete 10 qualifying transactions (including direct deposits, debit card purchases, and online bill payments) within 60 days of opening the account.

In summary, while Chase offers a comprehensive range of banking services and may help you gain familiarity with a major bank, its college account lacks standout perks offered by other options on our list. Chase is an excellent choice for future financial products like mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, investment services, and commercial banking, but it may not be the best fit for students based on other offerings highlighted in this comparison guide.

Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash Chase Bank in New York City

  • Maintenance Fees: $0 monthly fee while enrolled in college. Then, $6.00.
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Interest: 0% APY
  • Overdraft Fee: $34 per overdraft
  • ATM Fee: $3 for non-Chase ATM transactions
  • ATM Accessibility: 15,000 Chase ATMs
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • FDIC Insured: JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., Member FDIC.
  • Learn More: read our Chase FX review or visit their website

Compare the 6 Best Bank Accounts For Students and Young Adults in 2023

Have a look at this side-by-side table of the best checking accounts for college students and their features.

Name

Card

APY

Out of network ATM Fee

Recurring Fee

Overdrafts

Foreign Transaction Fee

Website

Chime®

2%*

$2.50

$0 Monthly

None

0

Visit

Majority

0%

Not disclosed

$5.99 Monthly

None

0

Visit

Current

0.25% - 4%*

$2.50

$0 Monthly

None

$3, plus 3%

Visit

Capital One MONEY

0.1%*

$2.00

$0 Monthly

Auto-declined

$2, plus 3%

Visit

Dave

4%*

$2.50

$1 Monthly

None

0.03

Visit

Chase College

0%

3

$0 Monthly

$34

0.03

Visit

Data quoted 5 September 2023.
*APY is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY was quoted as of September 5, 2022.

Pros and Cons of Opening a Student Checking Account

As a student, you may have limited earnings and a shorter financial history. Understanding the pros and cons of student checking accounts ahead of time will help you make an informed choice that aligns with your student lifestyle.

The best student accounts offer low fees, come with savings and budgeting tools, facilitate seamless payroll connections through direct deposit, assist in building credit history, and provide access to extensive free ATM networks. Let's look at these advantages and drawbacks in more detail:

Advantages

  • Low fees and restrictions: Student accounts often waive monthly maintenance fees and have no minimum balance requirements.
  • Build a financial and credit history: They provide an opportunity to establish a positive financial track record, which is essential for future use of loans and credit.
  • No or low overdraft fees: Many student accounts offer reduced or no overdraft fees, or auto-decline overdrafts.

Drawbacks

  • Stricter eligibility requirements: Student accounts may require you to meet age limits or enrollment criteria in an educational institution.
  • May offer less interest: Student bank accounts often have lower interest rates compared to other accounts, potentially resulting in less growth on your savings.
  • Fewer credit features: Student accounts typically lack unsecured credit features, limiting your access to loans or lines of credit.
  • Eventually transitions to a standard account: After graduation, these accounts may transition to standard accounts with higher maintenance fees, overdraft penalties, and other service fees.
  • May require guardian access: Some student accounts may require parental or guardian involvement via a joint account.

How To Choose the Best Student Checking Account for You

The best bank accounts for students will offer low-fee services that introduce you to day-to-day banking but keep your finances simple and stress fee:

  • No Maintenance Fee: Saves students money with no monthly charges.
  • No Minimum Balance: Allows flexibility with no balance requirements.
  • Mobile Access: Enables convenient digital banking via mobile app.
  • ATM Fees & Network: Offers broad ATM access nationwide.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee: Spend abroad without fixed fees.
  • No Direct Deposit Requirement: Doesn't require income deposits.
  • No Overdraft Fees: Auto-declines overdrafts, or waives late fees.
  • Customer Service: Provides reliable human support or issues 24/7.
  • Paper Check-Writing: Allows mobile app check payments & deposits.

Alternatives to Student Bank Accounts

Here are some alternatives to traditional student checking accounts offered by big banks like BoA, Wells Fargo, and Chase. These options can work alongside brick-and-mortar banks or can sometimes replace them altogether:

  • Digital accounts: Digital accounts, like Chime, are online app-based accounts provided by fintech platforms. They partner with FDIC-insured banks to provide banking services, competitive interest rates, and innovative features. They are suitable for virtual banking, but they may not provide access to traditional financial products like loans, mortgages, or credit.
  • Joint Bank Account with Parent or Guardian: You can have a regular or even a student bank account with your parent or guardian listed as a joint account holder. Capital One's MONEY Teen Checking is one example of this arrangement. Joint accounts allow for shared visibility of transactions and makes it easy to receive additional funds when needed.
  • Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards: Prepaid debit cards are a quick way to add funds without the risk of overdrawing. While some options like Western Union exist, they often come with high fees and may not offer savings features, making them better suited for gift or allowance purposes.
  • Second-Chance Bank Accounts: Second-chance bank accounts usually waive maintenance fees and are designed to help you improve your financial history. Chime's optional Credit Builder or Current Build are examples that offer credit-building tools to help you work toward better credit scores.
  • Credit Unions: Credit unions often offer student account benefits similar to big banks. Credit unions are nonprofit institutions and often specialize in providing loans and credit for specific purposes or communities.

Bottom Line: Recapping the 6 Best Checking Accounts for Students

Chime stands out as our top choice for student checking thanks to its student-friendly features. It offers no monthly maintenance fees or minimum balance requirements for its checking account.

Chime provides an optional credit builder feature to help establish a positive financial and credit history. Additionally, it offers an optional high-yield savings account for those looking to grow their savings.

Chime's accessibility, with no enrollment criteria, caters to a wide range of students (including students with no credit or no income). Importantly, Chime doesn't automatically transition your account to a standard version after graduation, and it doesn't require guardian access, giving you full financial independence. One drawback to note is its lack of loan or line of credit services for future planning of large purchases.

Let's have a glance at the 6 best student banking solutions in 2023:

  1. Chime — Best Overall Checking Accounts for Students in 2023
  2. Majority — Best for International Students and Residents in the US
  3. Current — Best for Cash Back Rewards
  4. Capital One — Best for Young Students Before College
  5. Dave — Best for Up to $500 Interest-Free Cash Advances
  6. Chase — Traditional Account for Future Planning

Disclaimers

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC. Credit Builder card issued by Stride Bank, N.A.

¹ Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven location or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.

² To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.

³ The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of November 17, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest. The average national savings account interest rate of 0.21% is determined by FDIC as of November 17, 2022 based on a simple average of rates paid (uses annual percentage yield) by all insured depository institutions and branches for which data are available. Visit National Rates and Rate Caps to learn more.

⁴ On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Results may vary.

⁵ Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.

⁶Early access to direct deposit funds depends on the timing of the submission of the payment file from the payer. Chime generally make these funds available on the day the payment file is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the scheduled payment date.

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