I'm a college student, and I make money. Some of it I want to spend quickly. Some of it I want to put off spending for as long as I can.

As I'm striving to become more financially responsible, I should probably put more thought into my wallet than that. I figure that my choice of bank is as good as any a place to start. I originally went with Bank of America solely because they had an ATM on my college campus, but now they don't. Now that I don't have this advantage, I should probably think more about it. So, what factors should I consider when deciding on which bank or credit union to use for checking and savings?

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    Make sure you won't be charged fees. Most banks will have certain criteria that if met maintenance fees will be waived. Make sure you pick one in which you can meet the criteria to have the fees waived.
    – quid
    Mar 9, 2016 at 2:22

1 Answer 1


Here are some things you want to look at for evaluating a bank or credit union for your regular spending accounts:

  1. Convenience. Do they have a branch in a convenient location for you? Do they have no-fee ATMs near you?

  2. Website. If you are like me, you will spend more time on the bank's website than you do inside a branch. Some bank's websites are great, some are terrible. Unfortunately, this is generally difficult to evaluate until you actually get an account. You want a website that is easy to use. It should allow you to easily move money between your accounts, get instant lists of transactions, show you your monthly statements, and have a billpay feature that works well. If you use budgeting software that interfaces online with your bank, you want to ensure that it works well with your bank.

  3. Fee structure. Some banks will nickel-and-dime you to death. Watch out for minimum balance fees and ATM fees. Banks and credit unions usually have a fee schedule page on their website that lists every fee they charge, making it easy to compare different banks.

I would not be very concerned about interest rates for savings. Currently, all savings accounts have a universally terrible interest rate. Therefore, I wouldn't base my bank choice on the interest rate. Sure, one might offer double the interest rate of another, but double "next-to-nothing" is still "next-to-nothing." When you accumulate enough savings that you want to start maximizing your earnings, you can look for a better rate at another bank to move your savings to, and you can keep your checking account at the bank with the best convenience and fee structure.

In my limited experience, I have had better luck with credit unions than with banks when it comes to fees.

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    Note: many, but not all, credit unions participate in a "branch exchange" program, which lets you use any participating branch as if it was your own credit union (for most purposes). My credit uñion is two states away, but i can walk into a branch of another just two blocks away and get a large bank check or whatever if I need one. Combined with Internet banking and a free ATM network, you can get most of the convenience benefits of a large bank without needing a large bank.
    – keshlam
    Mar 9, 2016 at 21:30

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