For many of us, our first time living away from home is when we head to college and face 101 decisions that were once made by our parents. Among these is deciding which bank will best meet our needs.
1. Branch Out and Be Different.
- Most college students immediately decide to go with the first bank they see near their campus, or the bank that is most popular around campus (traditionally endorsed by campus). This is not really the best way to begin a long-term banking relationship. Students should research all banks around town and online to see which bank will suit them best based on the way they want to bank. This will help make a good banking relationship great.
2. ATM Convenience.
- We all love banks that are convenient, but just because it is close does not make it the best choice for you. Research all ATM options, fees charged and locations for multiple banks around town before you make your decision. ATMs are very important while in college. However, don’t let one ATM on campus be the determining factor on which bank you choose. Some banks will refund fees charged from using an opposing banks’ ATM, which may be a great feature for you. Having a branch location on the campus is not really necessary if you do most of your banking using your mobile device.
3. Low or No Minimum Balance.
In college, students may not have a regular source of income, and bank balances tend to get low every once in a while. Some banks will charge fees if your balance falls below a certain amount, so you will want to choose an account that has a low or no minimum balance requirement. Some accounts may require a minimum initial deposit when you open the account, but they may not have a minimum balance to maintain the bank account.
4. Tech Features.
College students and technology go hand in hand. When choosing a bank, make sure the online banking services will suit your best needs. Check to see if the bank offers an online demo, so you can try it on for size before you buy it. Online banking services make paying bills easy by allowing you to automatically transfer the funds or make scheduled payments. Choose a bank that allows you to set up text alerts, email alerts and reminders when your balance falls below a certain amount. These automated features make sticking to a budget much easier, and help to keep you out of an overdraft situation – like the majority of college students tend to do.
4. Bank Hours.
The majority of banks are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and if you go to class full time, this makes getting to the bank during these hours a problem. Even though we may not see ourselves going to the bank very often in college, having the option to go in whenever works best for you is something to consider when choosing a bank. Look for a bank that offers you options to bank on your schedule and not theirs.
6. Customer Service.
When you have a problem or question you will want to feel comfortable going to your bank’s branch or calling in to get help quickly. Making sure the bank you choose has outstanding customer service is key to having a great banking relationship. Ask around, and make sure your bank of choice is an outgoing, talkative and willing to help bank no matter when you need them.