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Everything a Brand-New College Student Needs to Know About Banking and Finances

Going to college is an exciting time. For many young adults, it’s their first taste of independence, and with that comes an opportunity to build a foundation for their financial future. To help them start strong, we’ve outlined information on the best bank accounts for students and financial tips for college students.

Group of college students studying

Best Bank Accounts for Students

If you’re opening a new checking account, there are certain benefits you should look for to make your banking experience better.
ATM Access
Many banks charge fees if you use other banks’ ATMs. If you have to do this often, the fees can add up to a significant amount. To avoid accumulating these charges, you can either make sure your bank has ATMs close to campus, or you can select a bank account that will refund charges accrued at ATMs not affiliated with your bank.
Low Minimum Balance
Many college students have a modest income, so the best bank accounts for students will have a low threshold to open an account. Depending on the level of benefits that come with your checking account, these minimum balances can be anywhere from $25 to $100.
Online Banking Option
To stay on top of your personal finances, you’re going to want to check your account information regularly. Online access means you can monitor your account at any time of day. And a mobile banking app means you can watch your finances from anywhere.

Financial Tips for College Students

College courses open students’ minds to new ideas and teach valuable information, but lots of majors teach nothing about personal finances. Even a little information can help young adults start their financial journey on the right foot.
Choose a Great Credit Card.
When you’re starting college, there’s a good chance you’ll be inundated with credit card advertisements and offers. Unfortunately, some companies target recent high school graduates and offer them preapproved credit and small free gifts to open cards with high interest rates. A credit card can help you build good credit, but getting saddled with interest that forces you to delay repayment can hurt your credit score. Ask about the fine print before you sign any agreements.
Don’t Charge More than You Can Repay.
A first credit card can be very exciting, but the decisions you make with it can affect you for a long time. Consider your credit card as a tool to build your credit score to help with future large purchases — like a down payment on a house — or to consolidate your spending to facilitate easier budgeting. Don’t look at your credit card as a means to buy things you can’t afford. Interest on outstanding balances can build and eventually hurt your credit.
Take Advantage of the Discounts
Your college student status grants you many discounts — some of which are very significant. You can buy computers, software, subscriptions and streaming services at a cheaper price than they’ll be at any other time in your life. Don’t be shy to ask about a student discount when contemplating any purchase. Some movie theaters, public transit, museums, and even travel companies offer markdowns for students. An important financial tip for college students is to take every opportunity to save for your future.
Start a Budget and Practice Sticking to It.
Budgeting will be an important skill for the rest of your life. Determine your average monthly income and deduct your regular expenses to find out how much money you have to spend on entertainment and other forms of fun.
Attending a university gives you a great start toward a promising future, and so does opening one of the best bank accounts for students and following smart financial tips for college students. First National Bank and Trust has a number of resources to help you. We can help you open a quality checking account. We have numerous locations for easy ATM access, and with a couple of checking account options, we offer foreign ATM reimbursement. If you’re taking out student loans, our debt calculators can help you manage your balance. Contact one of our helpful team members if you have any questions.