College: it’s a time for self-discovery and fun, yes, but it’s also a time where students really learn about financial responsibility; unless they want to be stuck eating Ramen noodles every day of the week, they’ll learn how to make a dollar stretch. Unfortunately, this kind of exponential knowledge usually doesn’t come until much later, after your son or daughter has found themselves in a financial hole.
While having your child learn from his or her mistake builds character, at the very least you can make sure that your child is set up with a checking account before sending him or her off to college—checking accounts are ideal because your child lowers the risk of increasing debt since he or she can’t spend money they don’t have; he or she can pay bills and manage left over tuition money more easily; and he or she can sign up for direct deposits for when family members want to give monetary gifts or if your child decides to get a small part-time job. But not all checking accounts are created equally and you shouldn’t automatically open your child’s checking account with your bank. To know what features to consider before committing your child to a particular bank, continue reading below.
Is it Accessible?
First and foremost you want to make sure that local branches of the bank are located at home (home city) as well as the city your child is moving to for school. If your child won’t have a car, then it’s really important there is a branch on campus or at least walking distance. While most banks offer online banking and your child may be extremely tech-savvy, your child still needs to have access to a brick-and-mortar institution to speak to someone in the flesh in case something goes wrong. You always want to try and investigate the number of in-network ATMs that are located in the area as well. The last thing your child needs to do is to accumulate a mountain of ATM fees. At the very least some smaller banks offer ATM fee refunds—meaning they acknowledge there aren’t many (or any) ATMs but will reimburse account holders for the fees collected.
Any Added Features?
Online banking options should be automatic. If the bank you’re considering doesn’t offer it, you should probably look elsewhere. If e-banking is included, you should then take it one step further and look into its mobile banking features—are there apps that give your child instant bank statements, allow him or her to make transfers, and give notifications of unusual activity (to prevent identity theft)? Is there anything that can make the banking process easier, like image capturing remote deposits?
Is it Affordable?
Lastly, while some banks will offer a free checking account, that doesn’t mean that it won’t come without certain terms and conditions, such as minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fee. Some require a onetime $25 activation fee (or monthly), while others require a minimum of $25 in the checking account at all times. Others will wave all fees if there is a certain amount of money that is deposited into the account each month. Also investigate about whether there is any sort of overdraft protection fee and identity theft resolution services, which can ultimately do major damage to your child’s finances and name. While there are standard checking accounts available, also make sure to look into credit unions that offer the same amenities.
About the Author: This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7 @gmail.com