Banks often try to give the boot to graduating college students who hold low-fee checking accounts they’ve used for years. But smart grads know there are a few useful loopholes that allow them to keep the best features of their student bank accounts, and here are some of the best.
Let’s begin with a few examples.
College students who enroll at Whatsamatta U. can immediately reap the dividends of good checking out deals at widely used banks.
Take Bank of America (Stock Quote: BOA). The bank offers college students a special Campus Edge checking account, where students get free checking with no minimum balance, with free online banking service, complete with e-mail account alerts (in case you’ve bounced a check or a heads-up when your account dwindles down to a few bucks).
The bank even offers students’ one “get out of jail” card in the form of an overdraft refund. Students can also manage their bank account via their cell phones, with a special mobile banking phone application. Better yet, if Mom or Dad want to transfer money into a student’s account, the switch won’t cost a dime (through Bank of America accounts only).
Pretty sweet, right?
But the landscape changes a little when a college student graduates. Bank of America automatically transfers the Campus Edge Account to a more mainstream Bank of America checking account, called My Access. That account will whack you with an $8.95 per month account management fee.
So what’s the best way to get around the fee? Actually, there are several. If you make one direct deposit to the account (like your work paycheck), Bank of America will waive the fee. Or, if you can manage to keep an account balance of at least $1,500, the fee is also waived. A third option: if you’re still in college, open the Campus Edge checking account online and after you graduate, the bank will still switch you over to the new account, but since you opened it online, the fee is waived.
Here’s another example.
A College student opens a new checking account with U.S. Bank (Stock Quote: USB). Again, the benefits aren’t too shabby.
You get free bank ATM transactions at U.S. Bank machines, and four free non-U.S. Bank ATM transactions each statement cycle. You can also get a reward deal for cash, travel points, or a discount on merchandise like clothes or books. College bank customers also can get discounts for shopping online, free check images, free archiving of cancelled checks, and 50% discount on all check orders (your first order is free).
At U.S. Bank, ninety days after graduation, your account is switched to a U.S. Bank Free Checking Account. But here’s a loophole for you -- since U.S. Bank keeps your student status active five years from the day you open the account, whether you graduate or not, switch from another bank account to U.S. Bank midway through your senior year. That way, you’ll get the bank’s student bank account freebies, discounts, and rewards points four-and-a-half years after you graduate.
Keeping your student banking account deals can be tricky, but are definitely doable. Check with your bank to see what their policy is on switching from a student bank account to a post-student account. Then, use the fine print to your advantage.
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