During the transition from high school to college, financial responsibility becomes increasingly important. Tuition, living costs and other college expenses must be calculated and budgeted. Opening a checking account before the big move can make life a little easier.

Even if your parents are paying for the tuition costs, there may be times when you need your own money. You can carry small amounts of cash, but it is more convenient to have a checking account for living expenses; anything from lunch in the commons to a parking pass for the semester. Getting a checking account with a debit card allows you to quickly and conveniently pay for purchases almost anywhere.

Opening a checking account may be beneficial if you plan to have a part-time job while in school – you’ll need a place to deposit your paychecks, or you can set up direct deposit. You can also pay bills directly from your account. For example, you may be the roommate responsible for paying the utilities and having a checking account with online bill pay makes this process that much simpler.

College is a time when you learn to do more with less. People who learn to manage a bank account when they have limited funds available are more likely to manage their money well when they have a full-time job after graduation. It is a great time to learn about creating a budget and reconciling your account while you only have a small balance and a few bills.

What to Look for in a Checking Account

Many standard bank checking accounts have restrictions and fees to worry about. Some checking accounts may be more lenient and designed for those who have smaller balances. When considering the ideal account for college, you want to look for a few things.

Online/Mobile Banking

You may be busy with school activities, studying, working and having fun. You want to be able to check your balances, make purchases and pay bills when it is convenient. A bank that has online checking account access and a mobile app will be easier to use.

You can also make deposits and even find ATM locations with a mobile banking app. Need cash at the last-minute before your night out and you have already left for the party? Just tap the mobile app on your smartphone and you’ll find the closest ATM around the corner from you.

Fees

While many checking accounts are labeled as “free”, they may come with strings attached. Make sure you look past the word “free” to see what it really means. Some accounts are free as long as you keep a minimum balance of a certain amount, have direct deposit, an automatic transfer from a savings or checking account or deposit a certain amount each month. If you are limited on the number of debits you can have in one month, find out the fee for going over the limit. Look for banks that offer free checking accounts with no monthly fees.

Link Your Account

Consider linking your account with your parents’ account for instant transfers. They can help monitor your account and add money when they see you need it. With online banking, both you and your parents can also watch for any fraudulent activity to protect your account and your private information.

A checking account is a convenient and a wonderful introduction to independence and life on your own. If managed well, a checking account can help create a good financial foundation for the rest of your life. Just make sure you find the right product that fits your needs.

Discover Bank, Member FDIC

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