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For many 18-year-olds, this newfound freedom will also bring the first taste of financial independence. While some may already have savings accounts in place, most will have to set up new accounts as they leave home and manage day-to-day cash flow for the first time.
Parents may worry their children will stumble. After all, even adults make unnecessary banking errors all the time. But plenty of mistakes can be avoided with a little bit of planning and foresight.
College freshmen should consider the following seven rules before starting a relationship with a financial institution.
*Focus on free: Almost by definition, students don’t have a lot of money—so they need to be especially conscious of fees that can eat away at what little funds they do have. MyBankTracker.com co-founder, Alex Matjanec, recommends looking for an account that has the following features: no monthly maintenance fee, negligible or no minimum balance requirement, free debit card, free ATM usage at your bank, free online banking, free cheque writing, and no money transfer fees.
 
*Mix it up: Your current and savings account don’t have to be at the same bank, especially if you can receive a higher Annual Percentage Yield on a savings account elsewhere. You may have to go online to find the best deals, something that shouldn’t concern most millennials who were raised on the Internet.
“Online savings accounts offer higher yields and lower minimum deposits while maintaining access to the money and the safety of federal deposit insurance,” says Bankrate.com’s chief analyst, Greg McBride.
Make sure you’re comfortable transferring money electronically, however, otherwise you’ll have to mail in any deposits. If your part-time job involves a lot of cash, for instance, you might be better off at a bank with brick-and-mortar locations.
*Ditch the school pride: You may be tempted to just go with the first bank you see near campus, or the one your university seems to endorse. Not so fast, though.
“Don’t pick a bank just because your school has a relationship with them,” says NerdWallet.com’s Nico Leyva. “Make the decision after doing the research to determine what is going to suit your needs best.”
*Weigh ATM convenience: A current account is essentially a spot to store short-term cash—so when you need to access that money to buy stuff, you’ll want to avoid ATM fees. You have a few options to consider.
Large national banks will probably offer a number of branches and ATMs from which you can access your cash for free. Just make sure that you’re not being hit up for other fees on the account.
You can also look to banks with a strong presence near campus; these may have fewer fees than their too-big-to-fail counterparts. Unless you’re sticking close to home, however, be sure that your parents can transfer money easily into this account without fees.
*Use your phone to keep tabs: Your phone can be a powerful tool for keeping an eye on your balance. “Using technology to monitor your account activity and available balances is a great way to be on guard against fraudulent transactions and also your best strategy to avoid costly overdrafts,” says McBride.
*Beware overdraft protection: While the name may sound prudent, overdraft protection is generally something that students want to avoid. Because such services usually bring high fees, you’ll be better off simply sticking to a budget — or accepting the embarrassment that comes with a declined transaction.
“Don’t let anyone persuade you into overdraft protection,” says Money-Rates.com’s personal finance expert, Richard Barrington, adding, “Overdraft fees are very expensive, and in particularly college students should learn to do without overdraft protection so they develop responsible banking habits.”
*Think ahead: If you’re using a specially designated student account, be aware of any age restrictions. “Many student accounts have age limits, at which point the account converts into a standard current/savings account with different fee structures,” says Matjanec.
If you’re going to get stuck with an automatic conversion, make sure the standard account doesn’t come with onerous fees, high monthly minimums, or other undesirable traits.
Importance of opening your first student account
There are a lot of events that mark the transition from school, but few will have the significance of opening your first student account. Having your own student account is your acceptance of the financial responsibility that comes with adulthood. Of course you will need one if you have to pay bills or deposit cheques in school, but there are several other reasons why opening a student bank account is important, according to https://lendedu.com.
To become financially literate: Going to school is more than getting a degree. It’s also a pathway to the things you need to learn about in life – how to live as a productive adult. A big part of that is being able to manage your personal finances and that begins with your student account. Even if you never write a cheque in your life (using online bill pay, debit cards and your smartphone instead), your student account is like your spine. It connects all the nerve endings of your finances. Understanding money going in and money going out and balancing the two is critical to your financial life from the beginning. In the digital world, most everything you need to know about your student account can be found instantly online or with a mobile app.
So you can earn a pay cheque: If you plan on working part-time as a student, your pay cheque will need a receptacle, which is typically a student current account. Many employers offer direct deposit of your pay cheque which gives you quicker access to your funds, but you need a student current account.
When you need money quickly: With many of the best banks, you can link your student current account with your parent’s current account, which would allow for immediate fund transfers between your accounts when the need arises. Even if you prefer not to have your accounts linked, getting a cash infusion from your parents is easily done with an electronic funds transfer from their separate account to yours.