Student banking

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  • #1
exequor
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I am in the process of setting up one of those "free checking accounts" that most banks offer for students. I am looking at Wachovia, Bank of America and SunTrust (they have an ATM, where I will be). Does anyone have experience with these types of bank accounts? Also which bank should I go with?

The all provide basically the same services, like no minimum, no monthly payments, free visa check card, etc.
 

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  • #2
brewnog
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No idea about the US, but if they offer an interest-free overdraft, check that they won't revoke it the moment you graduate.
 
  • #3
Evo
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exequor said:
I am in the process of setting up one of those "free checking accounts" that most banks offer for students. I am looking at Wachovia, Bank of America and SunTrust (they have an ATM, where I will be). Does anyone have experience with these types of bank accounts? Also which bank should I go with?

The all provide basically the same services, like no minimum, no monthly payments, free visa check card, etc.
I've always had free checking. I think any of the banks you listed should be fine.
 
  • #4
Moonbear
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exequor said:
I am in the process of setting up one of those "free checking accounts" that most banks offer for students. I am looking at Wachovia, Bank of America and SunTrust (they have an ATM, where I will be). Does anyone have experience with these types of bank accounts? Also which bank should I go with?

The all provide basically the same services, like no minimum, no monthly payments, free visa check card, etc.

The one thing worth looking into is what other ATM's their card is compatible with. That way, if you travel away from school, you'll know you can use ATMs (even if there's a small fee). For example, when I was recently in Canada, they had ATMs that were Cirrus or Plus and one of the people I was with had some weird credit union ATM card that wasn't compatible with either network, so he had trouble finding an ATM machine that would take his card (find one that works with both of those since those are the two biggest networks in the US and Canada). They might all be the same, but just something worth looking into.

The other thing you can consider is where are their ATMs located, and how much do they charge to use an ATM not owned by the bank? Those two things can vary considerably. They all charge now, but you can find one with the lowest charge, and if you use a bank that has ATMs everywhere you'll want to use them, then you won't need to use other bank's ATMs anyway.

Other than that, free checking is pretty much the same everywhere. Oh, check if their overdraft fees are all the same too. You will want to be very careful not to become overdrawn, but if you do, you don't want to pay an arm and a leg in fees if you can avoid it.
 
  • #5
Norman
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I just moved and had to change banks since my old institution was a local credit union. We decided to go with Bank of America- I am really less than pleased so far... I am really irked by the fact that they charge me $2.50 when ever I use another banks ATM. And I have to wait a week to use any funds deposited with a personal check made out to me. VERY ANNOYING. We have only been with them for a week and I am seriously considering changing banks. A WEEK. Even when I write myself a check from another bank account I have... so retarded. Just ask them all sorts of questions before you decide to commit to any bank. In fact, I would suggest going to a local credit union- they are usually much more customer friendly. That is my advice.
 
  • #6
dduardo
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If your going to be doing any savings I suggest online banking sites like ING Direct. Banks like Wachovia, Bank of America, etc have terrible savings rates. You'll be lucky getting 0.65%. On the other hand ING is 3.15%.
 
  • #7
honestrosewater
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I've had a free checking account with Bank of America for about 7 years (it was Nations Bank when I opened it), but it isn't a student account. I've only had one problem with them. It was just after Christmas and my account was low, I don't remember exactly, say 350. I made a deposit of, say, 600, paid two other things, say, 30 and 50, then paid rent, about 400. Well, they took out the 400 first, putting me under and charging me the $30 overdraft fee, then took out the 30 and 50, charging me the $30 overdraft fee on each, then added my deposit, i.e., they processed them out of order to screw me out of the most money possible. :grumpy: I called and complained and got it fixed, but still - :grumpy: . It never happened again, and I don't know, maybe most banks are like that.

Oh, BTW, their check cards are through Visa - you can use them anywhere that accepts Visa, which is just about everywhere. I've never had a problem finding an ATM, and I've never been charged by the bank for using non-BoA ATMs (though some ATMs themselves charge fees), but that could just be the type of account I have.
 
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  • #8
brewnog
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Things I liked about my student account:

- Overdraft was genuinely free (no interest whatsoever)
- Overdraft increased by £250 for each year I was at uni
- Overdraft was not cancelled after graduation
- Overdraft continued after graduation, and is reduced by the same amount it was increased to begin with

Oh, and I got £50 just for choosing by bank (which shall remain Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation).

In short, if you're a student (and not excessively rich), you'll need a big overdraft. Find a bank who like giving you overdrafts!
 
  • #9
Evo
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honestrosewater said:
I've had a free checking account with Bank of America for about 7 years (it was Nations Bank when I opened it), but it isn't a student account. I've only had one problem with them. It was just after Christmas and my account was low, I don't remember exactly, say 350. I made a deposit of, say, 600, paid two other things, say, 30 and 50, then paid rent, about 400. Well, they took out the 400 first, putting me under and charging me the $30 overdraft fee, then took out the 30 and 50, charging me the $30 overdraft fee on each, then added my deposit, i.e., they processed them out of order to screw me out of the most money possible. :grumpy: I called and complained and got it fixed, but still - :grumpy: . It never happened again, and I don't know, maybe most banks are like that.

Oh, BTW, their check cards are through Visa - you can use them anywhere that accepts Visa, which is just about everywhere. I've never had a problem finding an ATM, and I've never been charged by the bank for using non-bank ATMs (though some ATMs themselves charge fees).
Debits are posted before credits during the same day. Deposits made after 2pm usually don't even count until the next day. It was good you caught what happened and got reimbursed. I'm so busy, I rarely check my statements. :redface: Luckily I've had my account with my bank for many years and they know me personally, so I don't have to worry.

Norman, since your account is new, holding certain deposits is pretty standard. If you have a spotless credit record and no history of bounced checks and a glowing long term account at your previous bank, I would have them reconsider your standing, if not, you probably won't be treated differently at another bank.

Moonbear has a good point about who the bank's ATM or debit card is through.
 
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  • #10
Moonbear
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brewnog said:
Things I liked about my student account:

- Overdraft was genuinely free (no interest whatsoever)
- Overdraft increased by £250 for each year I was at uni
- Overdraft was not cancelled after graduation
- Overdraft continued after graduation, and is reduced by the same amount it was increased to begin with

Oh, and I got £50 just for choosing by bank (which shall remain Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation).

In short, if you're a student (and not excessively rich), you'll need a big overdraft. Find a bank who like giving you overdrafts!
I don't think anything like that exists anywhere in the US. They're all going to charge you if you overdraft, and if you don't resolve it quickly, they'll close your account and until you resolve it, you won't be able to open an account with anyone else either (they all share this information somewhere, somehow).
 
  • #11
brewnog
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Moonbear said:
I don't think anything like that exists anywhere in the US. They're all going to charge you if you overdraft, and if you don't resolve it quickly, they'll close your account and until you resolve it, you won't be able to open an account with anyone else either (they all share this information somewhere, somehow).


By overdraft, I mean an agreed one. The bank say they'll let you go, say, £1500 into the red with no penalty, but if you overstep it (without agreeing it first) then they'll charge you for it. Extremely handy feature, and much cheaper than credit from a loan or credit card.
 
  • #12
Evo
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brewnog said:
By overdraft, I mean an agreed one. The bank say they'll let you go, say, £1500 into the red with no penalty, but if you overstep it (without agreeing it first) then they'll charge you for it. Extremely handy feature, and much cheaper than credit from a loan or credit card.
I don't think overdraft policies are that liberal in the US.
 
  • #13
Moonbear
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Yeah, I suspect any bank in the US would tell you to apply for a loan or a credit card. All of the banks offer credit cards and will happily charge you 19% interest if you don't have a good credit record, but they're not going to give you a free loan by letting you draw your account into a negative balance.
 
  • #14
brewnog
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One more reason to be happy to be in the UK! :smile:
 
  • #15
honestrosewater
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Evo said:
Debits are posted before credits during the same day. Deposits made after 2pm usually don't even count until the next day. It was good you caught what happened and got reimbursed. I'm so busy, I rarely check my statements. :redface: Luckily I've had my account with my bank for many years and they know me personally, so I don't have to worry.
At my bank, $200 of any deposit is available immediately (as long as the deposit eventually clears, I guess). I don't remember the exact amounts, but the overdraft was less than $200. And they even took the debits out of order; If they took them out in the order in which I made them, I would have been covered for the first two and only been penalized for the last one. I don't usually pay close attention to my account either, but I noticed a $90 difference, especially since I was low anyway. I've been happy with them otherwise.
 
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  • #16
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honestrosewater said:
At my bank, $200 of any deposit is available immediately (as long as the deposit eventually clears, I guess). I don't remember the exact amounts, but the overdraft was less than $200. And they even took the debits out of order; If they took them out in the order in which I made them, I would have been covered for the first two and only been penalized for the last one. I don't usually pay close attention to my account either, but I noticed a $90 difference, especially since I was low anyway. I've been happy with them otherwise.
I think the $200 is a policy at my bank also, but I've been there long enough that nothing I deposit is held, I just remember seeing a sign in the window recently about policy to hold deposits (of course that is always at the bank's discretion). The debits would have been subtracted in the order which the clerk received them for input, not the order in which they were written. Unfortunately no one takes the time to hold them all separately by each individual account and then debit them in the order that would make best use of your money, that is why it is wise to do as you did and bring this to the bank's attention. The clerk is inputting thousands of transactions in numerous accounts and not just working on one account at a time (which is what we'd like to think).
 
  • #17
exequor
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The main reason that I am looking at suntrust is because they have an ATM on my campus. Definitely this would allow me to avoid the additional ATM costs, where applicable. I do not know much about the history of these banks but BoA and Wachovia seem to be more "popular" than SunTrust.

I will definitely try to avoid any overdrafting since that seems to be a common thing. One thing I like is the fact that they all give you a visa check card, and they all seem to be cirrus compatible.
 
  • #18
Evo
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exequor said:
The main reason that I am looking at suntrust is because they have an ATM on my campus. Definitely this would allow me to avoid the additional ATM costs, where applicable. I do not know much about the history of these banks but BoA and Wachovia seem to be more "popular" than SunTrust.

I will definitely try to avoid any overdrafting since that seems to be a common thing. One thing I like is the fact that they all give you a visa check card, and they all seem to be cirrus compatible.
Charges to use an ATM machine outside of your bank is usually only $1 or $1.50, it's not even enough to bother thinking about.
 
  • #19
Entropy
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My mommy did my Suntrust account for me! :biggrin:

Yeah I'm spoiled. :tongue:
 
  • #20
dduardo
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Entropy, its not that hard. You go to the bank and ask to open a checking account. They give you a form to fill out, show them some id, give them an initial deposit and then they give you some pamphlets and your acccount number. They then tell you that you'll recieve your atm card and checks in the mail. Bam, your done.
 
  • #21
honestrosewater
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Thanks for the reality check, Evo. :smile: I guess I did jump to the conclusion that they were intentionally trying to cheat me out of money.
exequor said:
The main reason that I am looking at suntrust is because they have an ATM on my campus. Definitely this would allow me to avoid the additional ATM costs, where applicable. I do not know much about the history of these banks but BoA and Wachovia seem to be more "popular" than SunTrust.
I usually just get cashback with my checkcard purchases from the many stores that offer it. It's very convenient.
I think Wachovia is the new First Union. I saw a Frontline on tax shelters, and First Union was a major offender, if I recall correctly - I could be mistaken. Please don't sue me. o:) Here's the program.

Where do you live? I think BoA just bought Fleet, which I think was big in the Northeast. Edit: Meh, I'm a couple years behind - http://www.forbes.com/2003/10/27/cx_aw_1027bofa.html
 
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  • #22
Entropy
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Entropy, its not that hard. You go to the bank and ask to open a checking account. They give you a form to fill out, show them some id, give them an initial deposit and then they give you some pamphlets and your acccount number. They then tell you that you'll recieve your atm card and checks in the mail. Bam, your done.

Man, leave the house? Thats way too much work for me. :tongue:
 
  • #23
honestrosewater
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Entropy said:
Man, leave the house? Thats way too much work for me. :tongue:
I realize you're joking, but there are some completely online banks that are supposed to offer better benefits. You can google 'virtual bank' or 'internet bank' for more. I think http://www.netbank.com/about.htm [Broken] is the one I looked into a while ago.
 
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  • #24
Entropy
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Well, it's in my best intrests to go with Suntrust because they have affiliations with my university. They have ATMs on campus where I can use my FSU card to deposit and withdrawl from my Suntrust account.
 
  • #25
honestrosewater
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Entropy said:
Well, it's in my best intrests to go with Suntrust because they have affiliations with my university. They have ATMs on campus where I can use my FSU card to deposit and withdrawl from my Suntrust account.
Fine, be that way. :grumpy:





:biggrin:
 
  • #26
exequor
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dduardo said:
Entropy, its not that hard. You go to the bank and ask to open a checking account. They give you a form to fill out, show them some id, give them an initial deposit and then they give you some pamphlets and your acccount number. They then tell you that you'll recieve your atm card and checks in the mail. Bam, your done.

I was thinking about just applying for the account online. That seems to be more convinient. I don't know if it is faster than the conventional way (it should be).
 
  • #27
Moonbear
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Evo said:
Charges to use an ATM machine outside of your bank is usually only $1 or $1.50, it's not even enough to bother thinking about.
It is if you're a poor college student who uses the ATM frequently, especially when you only have $15 in your account and need half of that for the pizza. :biggrin:

I fully understand their reasoning for charging a fee for the added service (prior to ATMs, you HAD to go to your own bank for withdrawals), but it does add up over time, and to me, it is enough to bother thinking about, especially when the bank that owns the ATM also charges $1.50 to use their machine. It also depends on how much you're withdrawing at a time. If you're taking out $300 at a time, and don't use the ATM often, it's a small proportion of your transaction, but if you're someone who uses the ATM to withdraw $20 at a time, the cost of using that ATM is more than a 10% transaction fee! All else being equal, I choose the bank with the ATMs where I'm going to be. Of course, all else is not usually equal when you start looking into more banking options like interest-bearing accounts, but if the only account you have with a bank is free checking, it probably means that little fee is important.
 
  • #28
Moonbear
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exequor said:
I was thinking about just applying for the account online. That seems to be more convinient. I don't know if it is faster than the conventional way (it should be).
With things like setting up bank accounts, I still prefer to do those transactions with someone in person. This way I can easily ask them any questions I have, make sure I understand all the terms and conditions of the account, and can get their advice about any other options available that I may not have found on my own. If you have an account back home where you do most of your banking, and the checking account is just for your expenses while in college, this is probably not such a big deal, but if you're working while in school and depositing paychecks and hope to actually start saving some money, then it's good to know what your options are as you reach certain levels of savings. If you've saved $500, you might want to just tuck it away into a low-interest savings account just to keep yourself from being tempted to spend it, but if you start saving more, there may be higher interest rate accounts you should know about, or ways to link your accounts so you can get some pittance of interest even on your checking account (it's never much, but it can balance out the ATM fees :tongue2:). It's also good to start talking to people in the banks and learning to develop relationships with them and get comfortable with that for when you need to start doing more serious banking in the future, like applying for car loans or mortgages.
 

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