College is an important phase of life for many, and not just for you to seek higher learning. It's also a practice environment for all those critical skills that you’ll want to learn in order to successfully run your home and life after graduation.
A big part of "adulting" as it is now called, is operating a checking and savings account with a bank. A checking account helps you learn to budget and enables you to make payments for things like rent, bills, and food on your own, without relying on help from your parents.
If you’re here it’s because you asked yourself, what are the best bank features for someone in college? mph.bank can get you pointed in the right direction. Let's start by examining the best bank account features to look for as a college student looking to gain independence by getting paid for your first jobs and paying your bills from your own finances.
1) Strong App Security
You can benefit from a bank account with high-end app security. Not all roommates and dorm neighbors can be trusted. Phones, tablets, and laptops get borrowed or misplaced. A high degree of digital and device security can help college students like yourself protect your funds from tampering or theft in chaotic and often shared environments. Online banks that use the .bank domain must meet additional security requirements in order to use the .bank in their web address.
2) Automatic Rent and Bill Payments
This may be the first time you get to experience the responsibility of bill payments and rent. In college, there will be a flood of information and responsibilities for you to keep track of, so it’s best to take the task of bill payments out of your brain to avoid late fees and other penalties by setting up automated payments where you can.
Automatic bill pay allows you to pay your rent on time every month, along with other monthly expenses like utilities and subscription services. It can really help to overcome both banking inexperience and the absent-mindedness that comes with tough classes and a packed schedule.
3) Online and Mobile App Account Management
College students today are digital natives. This means you already have the ability and preference to manage your accounts through websites and mobile apps. The right bank account for you would be one that offers a great mobile app and online portal for on-the-go money management. Studying and staying financially in-control can be done at the same time using two browser tabs.
Great online account management - and minimal need for phone calls or branch visits - makes staying on top of your finances that much easier.
4) SMS Low Balance and Overdraw Alerts
If there's a problem with your bank account, receiving an SMS text message or in-app message is much more useful than a paper letter. Most college students don't yet have a permanent address and your mail may still be going to your family home - or it might get lost in the dorm delivery shuffle. A bank account with mobile alerts instead of phone calls or letters is ideal.
5) No Direct Deposit Requirement
Many standard checking accounts assume that the account holder has a typical job with monthly or bi-monthly direct deposits from an employer. In fact, direct deposits may be required to use these accounts. This is not ideal for college students who either don't have a job yet, or don't have a job all the time.
Instead, you should seek bank accounts with no direct deposit required so that your earning situation can remain flexible.
6) Check Scan Deposits
Many financial aid rewards and payments through the school are provided via paper check. The best account feature to deal with this is a mobile app that can accept check scan deposits. The app takes a picture of your check and deposits the amount directly into your bank account with no hassle and no need to find a branch or ATM to get their much-needed grant funds.
7) Integrated Savings Account
Most college students also benefit from the ability to start their first personal savings account as soon as possible. While you may be notoriously short on cash, saving what you can is still important. With just a little bit saved here and there, you can set yourself up for a downpayment on your first apartment or car, or a slush fund for emergencies without having to call mom and dad.
Therefore, a checking account with an attached savings account is a great feature.
8) Keep the Change Savings
Savings features make it easier for you to learn to save, and to benefit from your spending habits in the form of growing savings. One of our favorite savings tools is Round-Up, a way to keep the change from each purchase by rounding the price up to the nearest dollar and depositing the difference into your savings account.
After a few hundred sandwiches and textbook purchases, you might be surprised how much the pocket-change approach can save.
9) No Overdraft Fee
College is expensive, and you may not yet be practiced at keeping track of your balance mentally with each purchase. This means overdrafts can happen, and are often made right with the next paycheck, scholarship grant, or stipend from your parents.
Bank accounts without an overdraft fee are ideal for people in college that are either earning a small income, or have a fixed income and need to stretch every dollar to make sure they can pay their bills. Why penalize yourself as you learn to spend and save responsibly?
10) Zero Maintenance or ATM Fees for Students
Lastly, many bank accounts have a mandatory maintenance fee, and may charge to use the ATM. For college students who often carry a low account balance, the ideal account has the opposite: Zero monthly account fees and free ATM access at the right locations. This makes it possible to manage your bank account without any risk that the account itself will become a financial burden as you're learning the ropes.
Starting Your First Bank Account with mph.bank
Here at mph.bank, we have an account already tailored to the needs of the modern college student. Unsurprisingly, we call it "First", designed to have everything a young adult needs to operate their first bank account and connected goals savings. With zero maintenance or overdraft fees, a round-up savings option, mobile account management, and superb account security, we've got your bases covered.
Explore our First account for students with mph.bank and see if it’s a good fit for you.
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