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Best College Student Checking Accounts Of July 2024

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Did you know that you can get a free college student checking account with all the perks you’d expect from a full-service account?

Being a student doesn’t mean you have to go without the conveniences of a checking account because you believe fees will eat up all of your money. Banks are well aware that students often don’t have a lot of income or savings. They create checking accounts tailor-made for small balances and features students want.

Banks are playing the long-game when it comes to students. While small student checking accounts aren’t money-makers, banks are betting that you’ll stay with them after graduation, when your income is much higher. In fact, research by Third Way found that college graduates will earn approximately $900,000 more than high school graduates.

Students will find a lot of benefits to using a student-oriented checking account. These include no fees, easy access to ATMs, debit card, in some cases free checks, and a mobile app. Let’s look at a few top banks that are great for student checking accounts.

Best Student Checking Accounts

The Best Free Student Checking Account Options

Note: The checking offers that appear on this site are from companies from which The College Investor receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The College Investor does not include all banking companies or all checking account offers available in the marketplace.

1. Discover® Cashback Debit

Discover offers the Cashback Debit Checking Account. This checking account allows you to earn up to 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases every month. See website for details.

Plus, this account has no fees or minimum balance requirements – including free-free overdraft protection! And, you can get your paycheck up to two days early with no charge!

They are very mobile friendly, have access to over 60,000 free ATMs, and even have no-fee check ordering. Read our full Discover bank review here.

Why I Like It: Cashback debit on a free checking account.

Learn more about Discover Cashback Debit here.

Discover Cashback Debit Account

1% cashback on up to $3,000 in purchases per month

College Student Checking: Discover Cashback Debit

2. Chime® Checking

Chime® was one of the original free mobile banking apps that revolutionized mobile banking. They started with a mobile-first mindset, and also wanted to keep fees as low as possible.

Chime really started its focus on college students when it launched – being mobile first across the board.

As such, they have a top notching free checking account if you’re okay with a mobile only platform. Chime has no physical locations, and all of their banking is done online – in the app. 

Why I Like It: Free mobile banking.

Learn more about Chime Checking here. Check out our Chime Review here. 

⚠︎ This Is A Banking Service Provider, Not A Bank.

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. While it uses partner banks to provide banking services, your FDIC-insurance protection may be limited. Read this article from the FDIC to understand the risks of using a non-bank company.

60,000 ATMs nationwide⁵

College Student Checking: Chime

3. Current

Current is a leading mobile banking app that has been endorsed by a huge range of personaliities, including YouTuber Mr. Beast. It makes banking convenient and easy – it’s that simple.

Current offers both a free and premium version – but the free product is solid checking account that you should consider. It offers no minimum balance requirements, no overdraft fees, fee-free ATM withdrawals at over 40,000 ATMs, and 1x points for cash back!

Plus, you can get up to 4.00% APY on balances up to $6,000 by adding money to your Savings Pods and enabling the Interest feature.

You can upgrade to premium if you want even more perks.

Check out our Current Review here. 

Why I Like It: Free mobile banking.

Learn more about Current Free Checking here. 

⚠︎ This Is A Banking Service Provider, Not A Bank.

Current is a financial technology company, not a bank. While it uses partner banks to provide banking services, your FDIC-insurance protection may be limited. Read this article from the FDIC to understand the risks of using a non-bank company.

 4% APY on balances of up to $6,000

40,000 Fee-Free ATMs Nationwide

College Student Checking: Current

4. Chase College Checking

The Chase College Checking℠ account is one of the best checking accounts designed for students. Students between the ages of 17-24 don’t have to worry about maintenance fees. You can have the fee waived for up to fives years as a student. This account comes with a debit card, and you’ll have mobile access.

And right now, you can get $100 as a new Chase checking customer when you open a Chase College Checking℠ account and complete 10 qualifying transactions within 60 days of coupon enrollment! That’s awesome!

Chase College Checking℠ has no monthly service fee for up to five years if you’re a student between 17 and 24.

Read our full Chase Bank review here.

Why I Like It: A great account opening bonus for a student checking account, with one of the largest, most well known banks in the United States.

Learn more about Chase College Checking℠ here.

Chase College Checking

$12* (waived when requirements met)

AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

College Student Checking: Chase College Checking

5. Cash App

A lot of people only think about Cash App as a money transfer platform, but over the last few years it has evolved into a full service banking product, with accounts, and even tax prep!

Cash App offers a free checking account that has a Visa debit card. It doesn’t charge monthly fees, inactivity fees, or foreign transaction fees. If you have $300 or more in direct deposits each month, you’re also eligible for $50 in free overdraft coverage!

If you’re away at college, it’s also really easy for a parent or friend to transfer you money to your Cash App acocunt.

If you use Cash App Taxes to file your tax return, and elect to have your tax refund deposited to your Cash App account, you can get your tax refund up to 6 days early!

Check out our Cash App Banking Review here. 

Why I Like It: Free banking, money transfers, investing, and even taxes!

Learn more about Cash App Banking here. 

⚠︎ This Is A Banking Service Provider, Not A Bank.

Cash App is a financial technology company, not a bank. While it uses partner banks to provide banking services, your FDIC-insurance protection may be limited. Read this article from the FDIC to understand the risks of using a non-bank company.

best college checking: cash app

6. Axos Essentials Checking

Axos Bank is a lesser known bank nationwide, but they do offer nationwide free checking! However, where Axos Essentials Checking really shines is in its access to ATMs. 

Furthermore, there is no real requirements to maintain free checking at Axos. They have no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum balance requirements, no overdraft fees, and more!

This isn’t directly a college student checking account, but it’s simply a great checking account option.

Why I Like It: No monthly maintenance fees and unlimited ATM fee reimbursement.

Read our full Axos Bank review here.

Learn more about Axos Essentials Checking here. 

Unlimited via Reimbursement

College Student Checking: Axos Bank

7. Step

Step used to be focused on being a starter checking account for teens. But over the last few years, those teenagers have grown up – and now Step is doubling-down on being a great college student checking account.

Step has two plans. Their basic account is free, and this account still delivers up to 3% cashback on eligible purchases, up to 5% APY in their savings account, and of course, it’s FDIC insured.

They also have the Step Black account, which is $99 per year. This account bumps up the cashback to 8% on eligible purchases, more FDIC insurance, and offers exclusive perks.

Read our full Step review here.

Learn more about Step Banking here.

Why I Like It: A great student checking account with a high yield savings option.

⚠︎ This Is A Banking Service Provider, Not A Bank.

Step is a financial technology company, not a bank. While it uses partner banks to provide banking services, your FDIC-insurance protection may be limited. Read this article from the FDIC to understand the risks of using a non-bank company.

best student checking: Step

Banking services provided by Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC

8. HSBC Student Checking

HSBC is a national bank that has a solid student checking account product.

They are very mobile friendly, and have a large network of ATMs. 

The great thing about their Student Checking product is that no minimum balance is required, and all fees are waived for up to 6 years. 

Why I Like It: Nationwide, with easy ways to avoid monthly fees.

$15* (waived when requirements met)

College Student Checking: HSBC Student Checking

9. TD Bank Convenience Checking℠

TD Bank is America’s Most Convenient Bank, and their TD Convenience Checking℠ account offers a great bank account for students. This isn’t directly a student checking account, but it has all the criteria a student needs to bank (online and in person).

You must be a U.S. resident and 18+ to apply for the offer online. If you’re under 18, please visit a TD Bank store near you. 

This is a great checking account, and it’s pretty simple to avoid monthly maintenance fees. All you have to do is keep a $100 average daily balance to avoid the $15 per month maintenance fee. Plus, if you’re a student or young adult, it’s even easier! If you’re between 17 and 23, you’ll have no minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee!

Why I Like It: Well-known bank brand.

Read our full TD Bank review here.

TD Bank Convenience Checking℠

CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, ME, MA, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA

College Student Checking: TD Bank Convenience Checking

10. USAA Classic Checking

USAA Classic Checking is a great choice for free checking if you qualify to have a USAA Account. USAA limits membership to servicemembers and DOD employees and their families, so that could be a bar to entry for some.

USAA used to brand their checking as a student checking account, but now it’s just it’s same USAA Classic Checking with some special pages for college students.

If you do qualify for USAA, then their USAA Classic Checking is a great product, with no fee checking, free checks, online BillPay, and ATM free reimbursements.

Why I Like It: Free checking, free checks, great mobile app for those that qualify for USAA.

Learn more about USAA Classic Checking here.

Up to 0.01% APY as of August 1, 2019

Up To 10 Free ATM Withdrawals

Nationwide for USAA Members

College Student Checking: USAA CLassic Checking

What Students Need In A Checking Account

Students are typically new to the banking system. They might not have much income. They also might not have a job yet (for direct deposit), or have other accounts at the bank.

As such, they have unique requirements that we wanted to share, so that you can see how we based our criteria for the best student checking accounts.

In order to be one of the best student checking accounts, we put the following criteria in place:

  • No Monthly Maintenance Fees: This is a big one. All of the accounts we consider must not charge a monthly maintenance fee. Note, some of these accounts may convert after school, but this ranking is specific to college student checking accounts.
  • No Or Low Monthly Balance Required: You shouldn’t have to have huge amounts of money to waive fees or qualify for a free checking account. We only look for banks that don’t have a monthly minimum balance requirement or if they do, it’s incredibly low.
  • No Direct Deposit Requirement: Many students don’t have jobs yet, so it can be hard or impossible to get direct deposit. As such, we don’t want banks to require direct deposit for free checking.
  • Awesome Online Access: The best free checking accounts will also have awesome online access, a great app or mobile site, and be accessible anywhere.
  • No ATM Fees: College students are on the move. They should be able to access their money for free, where ever they are.

Why Should You Trust This List?

I’ve been writing and reporting on college student banking and investing products since 2009. I personally have shared my story and use of banking products, and I created this list with the goal of making sure that other young adults are getting great products and services at no (or very little) cost.

When creating this list, I’ve spent well over a hundred hours going through our existing product and service reviews in the banking space, along with my knowledge of banking products from my decade of experience. I’ve tested, tried, or used every product on this list, along with many of their competitors that didn’t make this list.

Furthermore, our compliance team reviews the accuracy of any rates on this list every weekday.

Final Thoughts

These are the best free college student checking accounts right now.

You might also want to look at these key resources:

And remember, these accounts are usually only free while you’re in college. At that point in time, some of these accounts will convert into other products, which may or may not charge fees. Plan accordingly!

Methodology

The College Investor is dedicated to helping you make informed decisions around complex financial topics like finding the best checking account. We do this by providing unbiased reviews of the top banks and checking accounts for our readers, and then we aggregate those choices into this list.

We have picked checking accounts based on our opinions of how easy they are to use, their costs and fees, any interest rates and bonuses provided, and a variety of other factors. We believe that our list accurately reflects the best free student checking accounts in the marketplace for consumers.

Chime

Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC.
⁴ The Annual Percentage Yield (“APY”) is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is accurate as of May 23, 2024. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest
⁵ ATM disclosure: Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.

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