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So you’re on your own for the first time. College is an amazing time to learn about everything you’ll need for success in the future. It’s also a time that can be pretty overwhelming, in terms of all the different things you need to think about. One of those often-forgotten areas is banking. If you don’t already have a bank account, then it’s time to get a student account open so you can manage your own finances. As you start looking for the perfect banking options for you, here are a few things to keep in mind.

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Look For Convenience

As you’re looking for different banking options, convenience is going to be at the top of that list. You won’t get a lot of use out of a bank account if you have to drive 30 minutes or more to get to the closest branch. Instead, look for a bank with ATMs in nearby locations, or with branches that are close to your home. Not only will you use the bank more often, but you’ll save money because you’ll be able to withdraw cash from your bank account directly, instead of paying those extra fees for using an ATM of another bank.

Hidden Fees

Banks have many different types of accounts, so make sure to take the time to look for hidden fees (and not-so-hidden fees) before you sign on that dotted line. Typical fees can be anything from minimum balance fees to fees to withdraw from that bank’s own ATM, or even just monthly fees. Don’t just blindly go into a bank and sign up. Look through all the fine print and find a bank account with minimal or no fees.

Extra Services

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These days, there are lots of extra services you can get with your bank account that will end up being very helpful. Many banks, for example, offer mobile banking with options to deposit checks with just a photo of the check from your cell phone. Other banks will offer text alerts when your balance gets low, or when a specified amount is deducted from your account. Some banks will also help you set up automatic bill payment options, so you can ensure you’re paying all your bills on time. Not only will that help you keep your bills paid, but it’s a great way to start building a strong credit score early.

Access For Mom And Dad

If you’re going to be away at school, you may want to consider sticking with a bank that your parents are using as well. Then you can connect your accounts, making it easier for your folks to transfer money to your account when you need it. While you don’t need to have the same bank to transfer money, when you are using the same bank you can usually save a great deal of money on all the fees associated with bank-to-bank transfers. Plus, you can make it so much easier for mom and dad to send you a few bucks when your pizza money stash starts to get too low.

Post-Grad

There are a lot of very small banks located all over the country, and many have great options and fantastic plans for students. However, you’ll want to ensure that you have access to your bank account post-graduation, so it’s best to look for a nationwide bank with lots of branches. Not only will it make things easier when you move, but you’ll also find more options for your bank account itself to grow with you. As you start getting into things like 401Ks, stocks and IRAs, a nationwide bank is going to have more services and more assistance for your financial planning future.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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