The College Student’s Most Important Financial Tool: The Checking Account

According to, teens collectively spend more than $258 billion annually, yet many young adults enter college without any practical financial guidance or accountability. And that’s why it is also important to educate college students about their most important personal financial tool: the checking account.

Checking accounts help students pay everyday bills. Combined with a debit card, a checking account can be the one tool that college students use to help manage their money. A checking account is the one safe way for college students to pay bills and make everyday purchases, like eating at the dining hall or paying for textbooks. Other expenses can usually be taken care of through regular, automatic deductions or through online banking solutions, which makes paying bills even easier.

How do you choose the right checking account? Here are some questions to answer before choosing the account and credit union that best fits you or your child’s needs:

  • Does the credit union offer a student checking account? Some financial institutions will offer special account set-ups for college students.
  • Does the checking account have a minimum balance? As a student just starting out, stick to an account that has a zero minimum balance.
  • Does the checking account provide free online banking and bill paying?
  • Does it offer free statements?
  • Does the checking account provide free ATM services? What are the fees for using an ATM outside of the credit union?
  • Does the credit union offer free 24-hour customer service?

Just like any other major life decision, when choosing a checking account, it’s important to be informed. And, it’s just as important to be comfortable with the credit union you choose. Ask questions if you do not understand something. Your Stanford Federal Credit Union representative will be happy to walk you through the ins and outs of taking those first steps toward financial freedom.

Additional Resources:

Back to top