Updated May 30, 2024

Best Savings Accounts for College Students

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Want to think ahead? Start preparing for your future using these student-friendly savings accounts with high APYs and no fees.

What are the best savings accounts for college students?
Here are the best accounts for college students to start saving:
  1. CIT Bank Savings Connect for High Interest
  2. Synchrony High-Yield Savings for Easy Cash Access
  3. SoFi Savings and Checking for Students with Jobs
  4. Chase Bank Savings for Traditional Banking
  5. Ally Bank Online Savings for Multiple Savings Goals
  6. Citizens High-Yield Online Savings for Simple Savings Account
  7. Discover® Online Savings for No Fees
  8. Affirm High-Yield Online Savings for User-Friendly Mobile App
  9. Varo Bank Savings for Rounding Up Your Change
  10. Marcus Online Savings for Digital Budgeting Tools

As busy college students, saving money might be the least of your priorities.

But imagine how much your future self will thank you when you graduate and you already have money in the bank to get you started.

Ready to get a head start on your financial journey? Dive into the 10 best savings accounts for college students.

What is your primary goal for saving money?

Are there different savings accounts for college students?
Yes, some banks offer savings accounts that are specifically designed for students. These accounts usually come with no maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements, making them easy for students to manage.

CIT Bank Savings Connect

Best for: High interest

CIT Bank Savings Connect is top of the list because it offers a high interest rate with no requirements. All balances earn 4.65% APY.

There's no monthly fee or minimum balance, but a $100 opening deposit is required. It is great for students with unstable finances who don't want to stress about maintaining a minimum.

The downside is that this account doesn't come with an ATM, so access to funds is more limited. If you need money, you'll have to do an electronic transfer and wait for it to complete.

Pros + Cons

  • Competitive APY
  • $0 monthly fees
  • No minimum balance
  • $100 opening deposit
  • No ATM card

For easier access to your money, check out the next option instead.

Should I open a savings account as a college student?
Absolutely. If you start saving while in college, you'll build a healthy habit and have a nice fund once you graduate and start real life. A lot of savings accounts have no minimum requirement or monthly fee. So you can start even if you only have a little bit of money.

Synchrony High-Yield Savings

Best for: Easy cash access

Synchrony High-Yield Savings offers a high 4.75% APY on all balances with no requirements. It also has no minimum deposits or monthly fees, making it easy for college students to manage.

You can also choose to get the optional ATM card if you prefer having your money within reach. It works at any ATM with Plus or Accel logos globally, and you also receive rebates for domestic ATM fees, up to $5 per statement cycle.[1]

Pros + Cons

  • High APY
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance/opening deposit
  • Optional ATM card
  • No physical branches
  • No cash deposits

Working while in college? The next option can help you grow your money even more.

SoFi Checking and Savings

Best for: Students with jobs

If you want a single account that covers both your spending and savings needs, the SoFi Checking and Savings might be worth looking into.

It's a solid option for college students with jobs because you can get a higher rate. It offers a 4.60% APY on savings balances with direct deposit (1.20% APY without) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

This account has no opening deposit requirement, no monthly fees, no overdraft charges, and fee-free access to over 55,000 ATMs. You can also get up to 15% cash back at participating local retailers using your debit card.

Pros + Cons

  • High APY with direct deposit
  • Checking balance earns interest
  • No minimum balance or monthly fees
  • Wide ATM network
  • Cash deposit available
  • No physical branches
  • Must meet criteria to earn high APY
  • Up to $4.95 cash deposit fee

If you feel skeptical about online-only banking, the next one on the list may be better for you.

Chase Bank Savings

Best for: Traditional banking

Chase is one of the biggest banks in the US with thousands of branches and ATMs across the country. It is perfect for students who prefer traditional banking, though the interest rate is very low.

On the bright side, Chase offers a College Checking account for students. You can even link it to a Chase Savings account to get overdraft protection.[2]

You can also set up recurring automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account.

Pros + Cons

  • Access to physical branches and ATMs
  • Free checking account for students
  • Top-rated mobile app
  • Option to link savings account to checking
  • Low APY on savings
  • No interest rate for College Checking

Sometimes, just one savings account isn't enough. The next one is ideal for super-organized students who like to break down budgets.

What happens to a student savings account when you're no longer a student?
In most cases, your student savings account will be converted to a regular savings account. This also means you won't be eligible for the benefits you were given when you were still a student.

Ally Bank Online Savings

Best for: Multiple savings goals

Ally Bank Online Savings offers a solid 4.20% APY with no account minimums or monthly fees. It also comes with money management tools, making it a great option for college students aiming to budget and save for specific financial goals.

You can create up to 30 different buckets within the same savings account. This is super helpful if you're saving for different things like a new laptop, spring break, or even a car. You can visualize and track your progress for each goal.

If you love Ally's savings buckets, you'll also love the spending buckets in their Checking Account. Their checking account has no monthly fee and even offers up to $10 for ATM fee rebates per month.

Ally also helps you save more with smart tools like auto round-ups. It analyzes your linked checking account and transfers money you don't need into savings for you.

Pros + Cons

  • High APY on all balances
  • No monthly fees
  • Option to link checking account
  • Handy digital budgeting tools
  • No physical locations
  • No card/ATM access
  • No cash deposits

Citizens High Yield Online Savings

Best for: Simple savings account

Citizens High-Yield Online Savings account offers an impressive 4.50% APY. It has no balance requirements, $0 monthly fees, and all you need is $0.01 to open an account.

Though it doesn't come with an ATM card, you can use Citizens' highly-rated mobile app for all your banking needs.

If you want to access your money:

  • You'll need to transfer your funds to an external account using their app or online platform.
  • You can ask them to send you a check in the mail.

Pros + Cons

  • Competitive APY
  • Very low opening deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Top-rated mobile app
  • No physical locations
  • No ATM access

Discover® Online Savings

Best for: No fees

Discover® Online Savings offers a 4.25% APY. It boasts no monthly fees, overdraft fees, or excessive withdrawal fees. You can even start saving anytime with no minimum opening deposit to worry about.

The downside is it doesn't come with an ATM card so withdrawals can only be made online via electronic transfer. Luckily, Discover® Bank has a user-friendly mobile app where you can stay on top of your account and manage your finances from anywhere.

Pros + Cons

  • High APY
  • No monthly fees
  • No opening deposit
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • No physical locations
  • No ATM card

Affirm High Yield Savings Account

Best for: User-friendly mobile app

Affirm is a popular "buy now, pay later" service, but it also has a high-yield savings option with a competitive APY of 4.35%. Affirm Savings is a straightforward account with no opening deposit, balance requirements, or monthly fees.

They don't offer an ATM card which can be inconvenient if you need cash quickly. But, they have a simple mobile app where you can manage money.

Just note that Affirm is not a bank. So, when you open a savings account with them, your account will be held with Cross River Bank.

Is Affirm high-yield savings safe?
Yes! Your Affirm Savings account is FDIC insured for up to $250,000 through their partner Cross River Bank, which is a member of the FDIC.

Pros + Cons

  • Good APY
  • No opening deposit
  • No monthly fees
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • No ATM card/access
  • Not a bank

Varo Savings Account

Best for: Rounding up your change

The Varo Savings Account lets you earn 3.00% APY on entire balance, with chance to earn 5.00% APY (on up to $5,000) when you meet requirements.

You can get the higher APY if you: 1) Receive qualifying direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more in one month, and 2) End the month with a positive balance in both your Varo Bank Account and Savings Account. So it's ideal if you have a job while in college.

There's no opening deposit or monthly fees to worry about. Plus, if you open a Varo Bank Account, you'll get a debit card to go with it.

Varo also has a Save Your Change feature that rounds up your eligible transactions and transfers the change from your Varo Bank Account to your Varo Savings Account. It's a handy way to save money without much effort.

Pros + Cons

  • Decent APY
  • No monthly fees
  • Comes with a debit card
  • Automated savings feature
  • No physical branches
  • Must meet requirement to earn highest APY

Marcus Online Savings

Best for: Digital budgeting tools

Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers an Online Savings Account with a solid 4.40% APY. There are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, making it a good choice for students looking to grow their money.

Though it doesn't have an ATM card, you can still do all your banking transactions through the Marcus app. You can check earnings, transfer funds, and use budgeting tools to help you make smart financial decisions.

Pros + Cons

  • Competitive APY
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • Top-rated mobile app
  • No physical branches
  • No ATM card and access
  • No mobile check deposit

Methodology

The point of a savings account is to grow your money. So first, we looked into savings accounts that offer a great APY. This way, your savings will get that extra boost.

We know finances for students can be a rollercoaster. So we narrowed down the list to accounts that have no minimum opening requirements and no fees to worry about.

Finally, we looked for unique features that make an account different from others. These could include tools for saving, ATM card, or a bundled checking account.

How much do you save a month?

How Much Should You Save?

Use this calculator to help you understand the monthly saving goal you need to meet to reach your desired savings amount by the end of college.

For example, you want to save $5,000 by the end of your four years in college. With a savings account that earns 5.00% interest each year, this calculator will help you figure out how much you need to deposit every month to reach your goal.

Monthly Savings Goal Calculator

How Do The Banks Compare With Each Other

How to Choose the Best Savings Account for College Students

When looking for a savings account as a college student, here are some things to consider:

  • APY
    If you want to grow your money, a high APY should be a top priority. Luckily, all the banks on this list offer some of the most competitive rates on the market. But, don't just blindly go for the highest rates as some may have restrictions that aren't worth it.

  • No Fees and Balance Requirements
    Since most students don't have stable finances, you'd want an account with no monthly charges or balance requirements. This way, the fees won't eat into your earnings and it'll be easier to maintain.

  • Accessibility
    If you prefer your money within reach, having an ATM card with an extensive fee-free network is good. Or, pick a bank that offers ATM fee rebates so you can still withdraw from out-of-network ATMs.

  • Digital Banking
    Pick a savings account with user-friendly online and mobile banking so you can easily manage your money wherever you are. Look for features like money transfers, check deposits, and useful savings tools. You can also check the app ratings to help you decide.

What factor is most important to you when choosing a savings account?

What You Need to Open a Savings Account For College Students

To open a savings account, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a US citizen or PR
  • Have a valid government ID
  • Have a Social Security Number

Additionally, if you're opening an account specifically for students, the bank may ask you to provide proof of enrollment.

How much money should college students have in a savings account?
There is no set amount for how much should be in your savings account as a college student. But, the general idea is to have enough to cover a few months of expenses. This gives you leeway should any emergencies come up.

How To Open A Savings Account

Most banks will allow you to open a savings account at a physical branch or online. Here's how the process usually goes:

  1. Fill out the application form for your chosen savings account with your legal name, birth date, address, SSN, and other personal information.
  2. Submit your application to the bank representative or through the website.
  3. Set up your online login details and fund your account.

If you are a student under 18 years old, you would need your parent or legal guardian to create a custodial or joint bank account for you.

Are online savings accounts safe?
Generally, online savings accounts are safe as long as the bank is FDIC-insured (or NCUA-insured for credit unions). This means deposits are protected up to $250,000 per depositor for each ownership category. So, even if the bank or credit union goes under, you're guaranteed to get your money back.

How to Maximize Savings for College Students

Here's how you can maximize your savings account as a college student:

  • Take advantage of bonuses.
    If you're planning to open a savings account, consider checking banks with ongoing promotions. Just meet the bonus requirements, and you can get extra cash along with your new account.

  • Use digital budgeting tools.
    Many savings accounts come with built-in online tools to help you manage your money better. Different banks offer various features, but common ones include digital piggybanks, personal financial insights, and automated transfers.

  • Link a checking account.
    If possible, connect your savings account to your checking account for easier money management. It can help you avoid overdraft fees, and even unlock additional banking features.

  • Set up direct deposits.
    If you're a college student with a part-time job, you can set up direct deposits to your savings account. You can even arrange it so a small part of your paycheck goes to savings, and the rest to your checking (or vice versa).

Alternative Bank Accounts for College Students

If you think a savings account isn't for you, check out these alternative options:

  • Checking Account
    A checking account is a type of bank account used for everyday transactions. It is ideal for those who want a safe place to store their money yet still have easy access to it. There are also interest-bearing checking accounts that can help earn extra money.

  • Certificate of Deposit
    If you're saving up for a specific goal and want to be more disciplined about it, a CD is a great option. It gives you a fixed interest rate, but you can only access your money when it matures. Early withdrawal will most likely incur penalties.

  • Roth IRAs
    A Roth IRA is an account used for retirement savings. The money you put in has already been taxed from your paycheck, so when you take it out later, you won't have to pay taxes. It's a solid choice for college students who are already earning money.

What the Experts Say

CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions. Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

When you're in college, you tend to focus more on the now. With all the time studying takes up, you might not have time to think about the life you're trying to build after college.

You don't necessarily have to open a student bank account. Plenty of savings accounts offer awesome rates and perks for savers of any age. All you need to do is find out what exactly you're looking for.

Once you figure that out, you can easily narrow down your options.

It's always a great time to start saving. When you graduate, you'll already be ahead with a nice little stash to kickstart your adult life!

Additional Resources

References

  1. ^ Synchrony Bank. FAQ: Which ATMs can I use and are there any fees?, Retrieved 8/11/2023
  2. ^ Chase. Chase Savings Account Fees, Retrieved 8/11/2023

Write to Katarina Rodriguez at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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Best High Yield Savings Accounts

April 18, 2019 - By Donna Tang - Reviews
Make your money work harder for you in a high-yield savings account. Here are the top savings accounts to grow your money.
How much do you save a month?
22% $0 - $100
24% $100 - $500
17% $500 - $1000
37% Over $1000
Source: CreditDonkey poll of 1,055 respondents
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