Heading off to college is exciting. Really exciting. You finally have freedom! You’re out on your own for the very first time, managing your studies, managing your social life and… managing your finances.
Despite being a big part of your newfound independence, personal finance is a subject you probably won’t find on your course schedule. If you didn’t take a personal finance class in high school and never had money lessons from your parents, you may not know how to manage a checking account as a college student.
“College students have very different needs for their checking account than their parents or other adults,” says Tommy Martin, CEO of Clear Path Financial Planning and a finance blogger at TommyMartin.com. If you live in a different city during the school year than you do during winter and summer breaks, for example, you may be after a bank for which location doesn’t matter.
Ok, so how do I manage my checking account in college, you ask? First, don’t get overwhelmed. Learning how to manage money while in college and getting a handle on checking account basics is simpler than you might think (oh, and the skills will serve you for years to come). Second, you can kick off your checking account education with these tips for managing a checking account in college:
1. Compare checking accounts before signing up
While your college life may center around your school campus, you should consider venturing off-campus to pick the right checking account for your lifestyle.
“Students typically sign up with a bank that’s on campus or close to campus,” says Sahil Vakil, a financial planner and president of MYRA Wealth in New Jersey. However, the nearest bank might not be the one that best fits your needs, he adds.
Instead of picking a bank based solely on proximity, consider all of your options, including banks with off-campus locations and online-only banks.
Martin agrees, saying that learning how to manage money while in college means considering all of your banking options rather than “automatically enrolling or choosing the official school bank just because it has the school logo on it.” There are other ways to show your school pride, after all.
2. Learn about checking account fees and rewards
Vakil and Martin both say a tip for managing a checking account in college is to consider an account’s fees before signing up. Costly fees can eat into your savings and spending money, which can be a blow for students who are not working full-time. When you are choosing a checking account in college, consider fees for:
Monthly maintenance (essentially keeping your account open)
Minimum balance (not maintaining one)
Online bill pay
Replacement debit cards
Martin says a checking account with no minimum balance requirement or minimum number of transactions could be a good fit for students. “It allows them to focus on their education” instead of worrying about incurring penalties, he says. “Even a $5 fee on a checking account with $60 in it can be devastating.”
Costly fees can eat into your savings and spending money, which can be a blow for students who are not working full-time.
Martin also suggests finding an account that has a large network of no-fee ATMs located across the country to better manage your checking account as a college student. “Especially if you’re going to a school in a different state, the local bank from home might wind up costing you a lot in terms of ATM fees,” he says. If your parents plan to wire you money, find an account that doesn’t charge incoming wire fees, Martin adds.
While fees should be a focus when you are learning how to manage money while in college, don’t forget about incentives. You may be able to find a checking account that actually helps you grow your balance by paying interest or offering a cash back rewards program.
“If you have to pay for books or supplies, at least you can get some cash back and use it for a free dinner,” Martin says. Discover Cashback Debit, for example, offers 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month.1
Luckily, you don’t need to take Banking 101 to figure out your funds, and tech makes tracking your balance and account activity easier than ever. Most banks let you log in to your account online (don’t get distracted in class!), and with a bank’s mobile app you can transfer money to friends, pay bills, deposit checks and check your balanceâall while you’re on the go.
Knowing your balance at all times is a tip for managing a checking account in college because it can help you avoid overdrafts and insufficient funds fees. It can also help you forecast your income and expenses to ensure you’ll have enough money to cover future costs. Surpriseâthat’s budgeting!
There’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting program or system, though. You can go old-school and track your budget on a printed-out budget sheet, or you can go tech-savvy with a budgeting and spending app. “What’s best for you is the one you’re actually going to use,” Martin says.
If you learn how to manage money while in college and make a practice of maintaining your budget, the habit will follow you after graduation.
âCollege students have very different needs for their checking account than their parents or other adults.â
4. Secure your account
One of Vakil’s tips for managing a checking account in college is to make sure your account stays secure. Create a unique account name and password that you use only for your checking account, and never share your credentials.
Vakil says you can also enable two-factor authentication if your bank offers it and you’re looking for another way to improve the management of your checking account as a college student. “This additional layer of protection safeguards your sensitive financial data and strengthens the security of your account by requiring two methods of verifying your identity.”
For example, if you log in to your account from a new device, you may be sent a text message with a code that you’ll need to enter to access your account.
5. Keep an eye out for debit card holds
No matter where you bank, a merchant may place a hold on funds in your checking account when you use your debit card. Generally, a hold is placed for travel-related purchasesâsuch as at rental car companies, hotels and gas stationsâand used by merchants to protect against fraud and errors.
“Holds on a debit card can make it tricky for you to manage your finances,” Vakil says. For example, “when you rent a car, the car rental company might put a $500 hold on your account. If the balance in your account was $550, now you can only use another $50.”
Being aware of holds can be particularly important if you are managing a checking account as a college student and tend to have a low account balance.
If a merchant will be placing a hold, it will generally post a sign to notify customers. The hold will typically be removed after the funds are transferred to the merchant from your financial institution, typically within three to four days.
Knowing when a hold will be placed, the amount of the hold and how much money you have in your checking account can help you manage your checking account as a college student by avoiding overdrafts and missed bill payments due to insufficient funds.
6. Don’t let one mistake throw you off track
If you can learn how to manage a checking account as a college student, and more generally, how to manage money while in college, you can lay the groundwork for a solid financial future. Checking account mistakes may occasionally happen (oops, I didn’t budget enough for that spring break trip), but don’t let them discourage you to the point of apathy. Instead, try to continually expand your knowledge and practice healthy financial habits.
1Â ATM transactions, the purchase of money orders or other cash equivalents, cash over portions of point-of-sale transactions, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payments (such as Apple Pay Cash), and loan payments or account funding made with your debit card are not eligible for cash back rewards. In addition, purchases made using third-party payment accounts (services such as VenmoÂ® and PayPal, who also provide P2P payments) may not be eligible for cash back rewards. Apple, the Apple logo and Apple Pay are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Venmo and PayPal are registered trademarks of PayPal, Inc.
The post 6 Tips for Successfully Managing a Checking Account in College appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.
Many rewards credit cardsÂ offer the opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus. Even some no-annual-fee credit cards offer them, allowing consumers to maximize cash back or points without paying every year for simply having the card.
The Apple Card only started offering a sign-up bonus in June, when Apple cardholders could earn $50 in Daily Cash after spending $50 at Walgreens. This was followed by offers in September, October and November, most recently including aÂ $75 sign-up bonus after spending $75 at Nike in-store and online via Apple Pay.
And now through Jan. 31, new Apple Card holders can score a slightly lower sign-up bonus. You’ll get $50 in Daily Cash after you spend $50 or more on purchases with Exxon or Mobil.
See related: Apple Card: One year later
How to get the Apple Card sign-up bonus
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New Apple Card holders who open an account between Jan. 8 and Jan. 31, 2021 can earn $50 in Appleâs Daily Cash when they spend $50 using Apple Card with Apple Pay (where available) at Exxon and Mobil stations at the pump or at attached convenience stores in the U.S., within 30 days of the account opening. To pay at the pump with Apple Pay, you can use either the Exxon Mobil Rewards+ mobile app or contactless payment.
This month’s sign-up bonus from Apple is lower than its previous offer from Nike, but on par with the older offers from Walgreens and Panera Bread, both of which got you just $50 in Daily Cash back after a matching spend.
You can apply for the Apple Card from the Wallet app on your iPhone.
Should you apply for the Apple Card now?
If you have been considering applying for the Apple Card, it might be a good idea to do so this month, especially if you commute or drive often enough to spend $50 at gas stations in a month. While the card doesnât always come with a sign-up bonus, new cardholders currently have a great chance to earn one.
Besides that, the Apple Card offers 3% cash back on Apple purchases, as well as 3% cash back when you use Apple Pay for Walgreens, Nike and Uber and Uber Eats purchases and at T-Mobile stores. Other Apple Pay purchases will earn you 2% in cash back. When you use the physical card, the cash back rate goes down to 1%.
However, the Apple Card might not make sense for everyone. The earning rate is good on Apple purchases, but if youâre looking for a primary cash back card to add to your wallet, there might be better options.
For example, with the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express you can earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores. All other purchases will get you 1% in cash back.
Another alternative is the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which earns you unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase and doesnât have an annual fee. Plus, you only need to spend $500 in the first three months with the card to earn its $200 sign-up bonus.
There are quite a few other cards to look into. Shop around before you decide to take advantage of Appleâs offer. The sign-up bonus alone shouldnât tempt you into signing up for a card that doesnât align with your spending.
See related:Â Apple card credit score requirements and reasons for denial
If youâre an Apple enthusiast and have been looking into the Apple Card for some time, now might be a good time to apply. The new limited-time sign-up offer gives you an opportunity to earn an easy sign-up bonus â something the card doesnât normally have.
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Dan Stous works in financial planning and wealth management. Online savings accounts initially came on his radar when he saw their interest rates steadily rise.
“The whole reason I was looking for an online account was because deposit rates at traditional brick-and-mortar banks have continued to stay low despite rising interest rates,” says Stous, who is the director of financial planning at Flagstone Financial Management in Lincoln, Nebraska.
He and his wife opted for a DiscoverÂ® Online Savings Account, named Best Savings Account by NerdWallet in 2020, and started making monthly transfers into it to help save for a car. They were pleased to find the funds growing quickly with the account’s high interest rate and annual percentage yield (APY).
Whether you’re saving for a new set of wheels like Stous and his wife, a home down payment, an emergency fund or [enter your next big financial goal here], an online savings account could be your ticket to success.
What are the benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account? Here are six things to know about a Discover Online Savings Account that will help you take your savings game to the next level:
1. You can grow your savings with a high interest rate
Regardless of your financial goal, you’ll want your savings to earn interest (and then you’ll want that interest to earn even more interest). One of the benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account is that you can grow your money with a savings account interest rate over 5x the National Savings Average.1
You earned it. Now earn more withÂ it.
Online savings with no minimum balance.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC
With online banks offering superior yields compared to traditional banks, Stous recommends online savings accounts to his clients as a financial strategy. “We have been steering people to online accounts because the rates have been so much better,” Stous says.
2.Â You can save yourself the hassle of fees
A bank account fee here and there can really add up. And who wants sneaky fees to eat into your hard-earned savings? One of the top benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account is that you won’t be charged an account fee.* Common fees that you won’t see with your Discover Online Savings Account include fees for:
Official bank check (there’s also no fee if you need expedited delivery of your check)
Deposited item returned
Stop payment order
Another thing to know about a Discover Online Savings Account is that the lack of maintenance or activity fees means you don’t have to stress about initiating certain account behavior (say, a regular direct deposit) to avoid a charge that could set your savings back.
“The whole reason I was looking for an online account was because deposit rates at traditional brick-and-mortar banks have continued to stay low despite rising interest rates.”
3. There’s no balance requirement
When considering important things to know about a Discover Online Savings Account, add no minimum balance requirement to the list. If you are just getting started with your savings (way to go!), it can be challenging to set aside a large chunk of cash just to avoid a balance requirement fee. With the Discover Online Savings Account’s no minimum balance requirement, you can start small and continue to add to your savings as your budget allows.
Getting ready to make a big withdrawal for an exciting big purchase? No problem. If you’ve reached a goal and need to put your savings to work, go right ahead. You won’t need to stress about getting charged for the lower balance that remains in your Discover Online Savings Account, and you can start building up your funds again for the next big thing.
4. You can manage your account onlineâand on the go
Your life is online and on the goâso your savings account should be right there with you. You can open a Discover Online Savings Account from the comfort of your couch (or when commuting in your rideshare) in three easy steps:
Enter the essentials (personal information like your address and Social Security number).
Fund the account with a starting balance of your choosing (or come back and do it later if you prefer).
Check your inbox for an email confirmation.
Once you are up and running, you can easily transfer funds between different accountsâDiscover accounts as well as external onesâand set up automatic transfers into your savings account so you can grow your funds on autopilot.
If you’re on the move, the account’s mobile app is control in your hands via your smartphone or tablet. Whether you’re in line for a coffee or waiting for your child’s extracurricular activity to wrap up, you can easily transfer money between your Discover Online Savings Account and other accounts, view your account activity and electronically deposit checks. Only have a second but want to check in? Quick View is a benefit of a Discover Online Savings Account that allows you to view your savings account balance without having to log in.
“The mobile app is very user friendly,” says Rick Vazza, financial planner and president of Driven Wealth Management. “It’s easy to use and easy to sync with a checking account. There’s a seamless flow.”
5. You can experience top-notch customer service
Customer service can be hard to evaluate, but the ability to quickly speak to a real person is certainly one sign of good customer relations.
“I’ve been seeing people particularly attracted to value-added services. The first being customer service,” Vazza explains.
Discover’s customer support is 100 percent U.S.-based and offers the ability to speak with a live person 24/7 without having to go through a bunch of automated prompts. Having knowledgeable and friendly customer service adds to the benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account.
“People like the fact that Discover is an all U.S.-based service,” Vazza adds.
“I’ve been seeing people particularly attracted to value-added services. The first being customer service. People like the fact that Discover is an all U.S.-based service.â
6. You can easily access your funds2
When and how you can withdraw money is important to know before you open a savings account. “How easy it is to get the money is a huge question, particularly with older generations,” Stous says. Having multiple ways to withdraw is a plus.
With a Discover Online Savings Account, your withdrawal options include:
Setting up electronic transfers between your Discover Online Savings Account and other internal or external bank accounts.
Requesting a no-fee official bank check.
Initiating an outgoing wire transfer.*
On your mark, get setâsave!
Understanding the things to know about a Discover Online Savings Account could help you make the decision to open an easy-to-use and high-yield financial solution for storing your cash. Whether you’re saving up for something special or creating a savings safety net, it’s tending to these areas of your financial plan that will better prepare you for what comes next.
Learn more about a Discover Online Savings AccountÂ today.
* Outgoing wire transfers are subject to a service charge.
1 The Annual Percentage Yield (APY) for the Online Savings Account as of 01/01/2021 is more than five times the national average APY for interest-bearing savings accounts with balances of $500 as reported by Informa Research Services, Inc. as of 01/01/2021. Interest rates and APYs are subject to change at any time. Although the information provided by Informa Research Services has been obtained from the various institutions, accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
2 Federal law limits certain types of withdrawals and transfers from savings and money market accounts to a combined total of 6 per calendar month per account. There are no limits on ATM withdrawals or official checks mailed to you. To get an account with an unlimited number of transactions, consider opening a Discover Cashback Debit account. If you go over these limitations on more than an occasional basis, your account may be closed. See Section 11 of the Deposit Account Agreement for more details.
The post 6 Benefits of a Discover Online Savings Account appeared first on Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog.