I’m just back from delivering my son to his first year of college. It was our second go-round, so most of the process was familiar. But one noticeable difference: No financial institutions on campus were seen signing up new student checking accounts. While it may just be the policy on this particular campus, selling checking accounts to college freshman is a dying practice (note 1).
In a digital banking world, there is little reason for an 18-year old to start a new bank account at a financial institution near their college. In fact, it might even be a poor choice. What’s the most important feature of a student bank account? No, it’s not ATMs, low fees or even a killer mobile-app. While those are desirable, the key feature, at least for kids still supported from home, is integration with their parents’ account for funds transfers and money management.
And the best way to get seamless integration is to open a companion account at the same bank/CU as mom and/or dad. So instead of sponsoring a booth on campus to pick up a bunch of low-dollar, money-losing, student checking accounts, FIs should concentrate on getting all their customers’ kids banking needs set up prior to college (for example, see F&M Bank teen banking account below). Then when you know you have a high-school senior on your books, help the family with the MUCH, MUCH bigger issue, financing those four years of advanced learning.
F&M Bank’s Varsity Checking is geared towards teens aged 12 to 17 (link)
Note: The bank offers a downloadable financial education guide
1. I’m using the term “checking” account loosely here. Really, all most kids need is a debit card which does not allow overdrafting. Though, in the USA, the ability to write the occasional paper check is still a nice feature.
2. Varsity Debit card pictured is part of the Varsity Banking student package account from Farmers & Merchants Bank in California.