BEST OF

7 Best Bank Accounts for College Students

The best bank accounts for college students have easy opening requirements, low or no fees and high interest rates.

Jul 29, 2022

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A bank account can help college students manage money and build good financial habits. The best bank accounts for college students don’t charge monthly fees or require direct deposit, and they have forgiving overdraft policies and well-rated mobile banking apps, and offer multiple customer support options.

Note that college students under 18 typically need an adult to be a joint account owner.

Why trust NerdWallet: Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our coverage to help you choose the financial accounts that work best for you. See our criteria for evaluating banks and credit unions.

Summary of the best bank accounts for college students

  • PNC Virtual Wallet Student: Best Budgeting Tools

  • Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking: Best for ATM Access

  • Ally Bank Interest Checking: Best for Overdraft-Friendly Bank

  • Varo Bank Account: Best for International Travel

  • Alliant Credit Union Ultimate Opportunity: Best for High-Yield Savings (tie)

  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account: Best for High-Yield Savings (tie)

  • Wells Fargo Everyday Checking: Best for Branch Access

Best Bank Accounts for College Students

Our pick for

Best Budgeting Tools

PNC Virtual Wallet Student

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
PNC Virtual Wallet Student

Monthly fee

$0

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Pros: - Numerous tools for budgeting and avoiding overdrafts. - A 24-hour grace period for overdrafts. - Free ATM network includes machines at convenience stores such as Wawa and 7-Eleven. - No monthly fees or minimum deposits for the first six years. - Customer support is available through Twitter and phone. - Can be as young as 16 to apply for an account (requires a co-applicant who's at least 18).

Cons: - $36 overdraft fee can be charged daily. - Branches are not available in all states.

PNC Virtual Wallet Student is a combined checking and savings account. The account is free for the first six years for active students and you can access all the tools on PNC's highly-rated mobile apps.

Its tools can help develop financially healthy habits. For example, Low Cash Mode helps you avoid overspending and getting hit with overdraft fees. Extra Time gives you at least 24 hours to bring your Spend checking account balance out of the red. Payment Control lets you choose whether to pay or return certain checks and ACH transactions if your Spend balance is negative. And alerts let you know when your Spend balance drops below your chosen threshold.

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Our pick for

ATM Access

Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Alliant Credit Union High-Rate Checking

Monthly fee

$0

APY

0.25%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Pros: - Massive ATM network of more than 80,000 fee-free machines. - Up to $20 in monthly rebates for ATM fees. - 0.25% annual percentage yield or APY with no minimum balance requirement. - No overdraft fees. - No monthly fees.

Cons: - Monthly electronic deposit is required to earn interest.

Alliant offers a checking account that makes it easy to get cash from an ATM: In addition to free access to more than 80,000 ATMs, account holders also get up to $20 in ATM fees reimbursed monthly. Plus, the account pays monthly dividends (the credit union equivalent to interest at a bank) as long as you sign up for electronic statements and have at least one electronic deposit (such as external transfers, a direct deposit or ATM deposit, or mobile deposits made using the credit union’s well-rated mobile app) each month.

Alliant’s overdraft policies are some of the best — it doesn’t charge any fees for overdrafts or overdraft protection transfers. You can opt into free overdraft protection to have transfers made from a linked account to cover transactions that would otherwise cause your balance to become negative. Without opting in to overdraft protection, transactions that would overdraw your account will be declined. Either way, you won’t be charged an overdraft fee.

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Our pick for

Overdraft-friendly Bank

Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Ally Bank Interest Checking Account

Monthly fee

$0

APY

0.10%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Pros: - No overdraft fees and up to $250 in temporary coverage for overspending. - No fees or minimum balance requirements. - Get reimbursed for up to $10 in ATM fees each statement cycle. - Customer support is available through Twitter and 24/7 by phone.

Cons: - No branches. - No cash deposits are accepted.

Ally’s checking account pays interest on any positive balance. In addition, it features one of the best overdraft coverage policies available: The bank doesn’t charge any overdraft fees and offers up to $250 in temporary coverage if you overspend. You can also set up overdraft transfers from a linked Ally account for free.

The account is free and the bank offers access to ATMs in the expansive Allpoint network (you can use the well-rated mobile app to find ATMs near you) plus, it reimburses up to $10 for out-of-network ATM fees each month. These features can make it easier to manage your money and help you maintain a positive balance.

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Our pick for

International Travel

Varo Bank Account
Learn more

at Varo Bank, Member FDIC

Varo Bank Account

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Varo Bank Account

Monthly fee

$0

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A
Learn more

at Varo Bank, Member FDIC


Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Pros: - No foreign transaction fees. - Some debit card purchases earn cash back.

Cons: - No branches. - It can cost up to $5.95 to deposit cash. - Joint accounts are unavailable; you must be at least 18 to open an account.

The Varo Bank Account doesn’t charge a monthly fee or have a minimum balance requirement. So if you’re studying or traveling abroad, you can use your Varo debit card without paying a foreign transaction fee.

Debit card purchases at select brands earn up to 6% cash back, and you can earn up to 15% cash back by making purchases within the well-rated mobile app. Stateside, you can access over 55,000 ATMs as part of the Allpoint network, including machines at retailers such as Target and Walgreens.

Varo’s overdraft policy is to decline or return transactions if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover the charge. If your balance does become negative, you won’t be charged an overdraft fee.

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Our pick for

High-Yield Savings

Alliant Credit Union Ultimate Opportunity Savings Account

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Alliant Credit Union Ultimate Opportunity Savings Account

APY

2.60%

With $100 min. balance for APY

Bonus

$100

Requirements to qualify


Why we like it

Pros: - High savings APY. - Subaccounts for goal-based saving. - Customer support is available through Twitter and 24/7 by phone. - No age requirement to open an account (must have a parent or legal guardian as the joint account holder). - Sign-up bonus (expires 12/31/2022).

Cons: - No branches.

Alliant’s Ultimate Opportunity account pays 2.60% APY, and you can start earning interest on balances of at least $100. Plus, the account offers a $100 sign-up bonus for accounts opened through 12/31/2022 (our bonuses roundup explains how to qualify.)

If you’re saving up for a significant expense like spring break or summer travel, it’s easy to create supplemental savings accounts that you can name for each specific goal. The account comes with an ATM card that you can use fee-free at more than 80,000 ATMs, including those in the Allpoint and Co-Op networks.

You must opt in to receive electronic statements to avoid the monthly fee; maintain a minimum monthly balance of $5 to keep the account open; and an average daily balance of at least $100 to earn interest.

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Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account
Learn more

at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Member FDIC

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Marcus by Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

APY

3.00%

With $0 min. balance for APY

Bonus

N/A
Learn more

at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Member FDIC


Why we like it

Pros: - Competitive interest rate. - Customer support through Twitter and 24/7 by phone and online chat. - Fewer ways to access funds, which may help you stick to a goal.

Cons: - Must be 18 to have an account, even as a joint owner. - No branches. - Cash deposits are not accepted. - No checking account or ATM network.

The Online Savings Account from Marcus by Goldman Sachs is online only and doesn't offer an ATM card, which means it can be harder to access your cash — that can be a good thing when you're sticking to a budget and trying to build funds toward a goal.

It offers a competitive interest rate and doesn't charge a monthly fee. There's also no minimum deposit requirement.

Customer support is available 24/7 by phone or online chat, so you can get help whenever needed. The bank's highly-rated mobile app also offers access to customer support.

It isn't easy to overdraft the account because the bank won't allow withdrawals or transactions if there aren't enough funds to cover them. However, if your account does become overdrawn (if you used the account to pay for a monthly subscription bill online, for example, but there weren't enough funds), you're responsible for the overdrawn amount. Marcus may close your account if your balance remains $0 or lower.

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Our pick for

Branch Access

Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Wells Fargo Everyday Checking

Monthly fee

$10.00

Waived with direct deposit or $500 minimum balance

APY

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Bonus

N/A

Why we like it

Pros: - Thousands of branches across the country. - Everyday Checking account is free for account holders 17-24 or with a linked Campus ATM or debit card. - Customer support is available on Twitter and 24/7 by phone.

Cons: - If you opt in to overdraft protection, the expensive overdraft fee can be charged up to three times per day.

If you’re unlikely to overdraft and prefer doing bank tasks in person (but also want to bank online), consider Wells Fargo. It offers about 4,700 branches across the country and has a highly-rated mobile app. In addition, the bank’s Everyday Checking doesn’t charge a monthly fee for account holders 17-24 years old or with a Wells Fargo Campus ATM or debit card linked to the account.

That said, the bank’s overdraft fee is a steep $35 per transaction over $5 and can be charged up to three times a day (that’s $105 a day). However, overdraft protection transfers are free.

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Last updated on July 29, 2022

Methodology

Methodology for the Best Bank Accounts for College Students

To determine the best bank accounts for college students, we took a close look at accounts that are specifically designed for students as well as accounts with features and benefits that are helpful to students but not specifically designed for them. We compared the accounts based on monthly fees and requirements, overdraft policies, ATM network size, number of branches, mobile and online banking capabilities and customer support options.

Financial institutions and providers surveyed are: Affirm, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Amalgamated Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Axos Bank, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Bank5 Connect, Bank7, Barclays, BB&T (now Truist), BMO Harris, Boeing Employees Credit Union, Bread Savings, BrioDirect, Capital One, Charles Schwab Bank, Chase, Chime, CIBC U.S., CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens Access, Citizens Bank, City First Bank, ConnectOne Bank, Connexus Credit Union, Consumers Credit Union, Current, Discover Bank, E-Trade, Fifth Third Bank, First Foundation, First Republic Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, FNBO Direct, GO2bank, Golden 1 Credit Union, Hope Credit Union, HSBC Bank, Huntington Bank, Industrial Bank, KeyBank, Lake Michigan Credit Union, LendingClub Bank, Live Oak Bank, M&T Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Monifi, Nationwide (by Axos), Navy Federal Credit Union, NBKC, One, OneUnited Bank, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, PNC, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Quontic Bank, Redneck Bank, Regions Bank, Revolut, Salem Five Direct, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, Scarlet, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, Service Credit Union, SoFi, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina, Suncoast Credit Union, SunTrust Bank (now Truist), Synchrony Bank, TAB Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, Truist Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, Union Bank, Upgrade, USAA Bank, Varo, Vio Bank, Wells Fargo and Zynlo Bank.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Bank Accounts for College Students

Frequently asked questions