Finding the Best Savings Accounts for Students
Student savings accounts are meant to help those in school grow their increasing income long term and learn about financial responsibility. To ensure that you find the best savings account for the student in your life, we’ve laid out the top student savings accounts for prospective account holders looking for specific account benefits.
|Affirm Read More||0.65%||$0|| |
|Synchrony Read More||0.60%||$0|| |
|Digital Federal Credit Union Read More||6.17%||$5|| |
|Ally Bank Read More||0.60%||$0|| |
|Discover Bank Read More||0.60%||$0|| |
|Varo Bank Read More||0.50%||$0|| |
|Chime Read More||0.50%||$0|| |
|TIAA Bank Read More||0.60%||$25|| |
|CIT Bank Read More||0.55%||$100|| |
|Navy Federal Credit Union Read More||0.25%||$5|| |
How We Determine the Best Savings Accounts for Students
SmartAsset analyzed around 20 of the most popular savings accounts suitable for students to find the best options. In scoring this study, our experts factored in banking features such as annual percentage yield (APY), minimum deposit size, monthly maintenance fees, online/mobile banking and financial education tools.
Affirm Savings Account
If you’re interested in the Affirm Savings Account, you’re likely focused on its fantastic 0.65% APY. There are no balance restrictions on this interest rate, so it applies to everything you deposit. This account is great for students, as it doesn’t require a minimum deposit and you won’t be on the hook for any monthly fees.
Affirm is a totally online company whose services are based around its mobile app. As a result, you should only open an account if you’re comfortable banking online or on your phone. It’s also a fairly new company, and it didn’t start in the banking industry. In fact, Affirm is, first and foremost, a shopping app that allows users to make online purchases at various stores and pay for them over time.
Affirm’s mobile app boasts a high average rating of 4.9 stars out of 5 between the Apple and Android app stores. Through this medium, you’ll be able to make transfers, check your account balance and contact customer support.
The app also has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Android.
Synchrony High Yield Savings
The Synchrony High Yield Savings account is a solid savings option for students, despite not having any particularly student-specific perks. With this account, you’ll earn a solid 0.60% APY on all balances with no minimum requirements. Although there are better APYs out there, Synchrony’s rate is still well above the national average.
You won't pay anything in monthly maintenance fees with this account, and you can open it with any amount of money. Synchrony doesn’t charge ATM withdrawal fees, though this account does come with up to $5 in domestic ATM fee reimbursements.
With the Synchrony High Yield Savings account, you’ll only be able to access your account digitally. Since the bank doesn’t have any physical locations, customers can contact a representative online or over the phone.
Digital Federal Credit Union Primary Savings
The first $1,000 you deposit in a Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Primary Savings account will earn interest at a 6.17% APY. That works out to about a $62 bonus over your first year, just for letting the money sit in the account. Unfortunately, though, any money you deposit after that receives a lower 0.15% APY. Also, you need to deposit $5 at the time you open a Primary Savings account, but there are no monthly fees.
Whether you’re at university in the U.S. or you’re studying abroad, you’ll likely be able to access a fee-free ATM through DCU’s sizable international network. Though this credit union only has a few of its own branches, account holders can do their banking through any of the over 5,000 locations where it offers shared banking. These are available in every state, so visit DCU’s website to find one near you.
DCU offers membership first and foremost to any immediate family of current members. However, you can become a member on your own by being a current or retired employee of an eligible company, being a member of an eligible organization or living, working, attending school or worshipping in an eligible community.
Ally Bank Online Savings Account
At Ally Bank, you can get a solid 0.60% APY, with interest that compounds daily. An account like this one that compounds every day allows you to earn interest more quickly on top of the interest you’ve already earned. As you’re earning these returns, you will also avoid monthly fees, so your growing money won't take a hit in that way.
One of the best rated apps in finance on both the Apple and Android stores, Ally boasts a wide range of benefits. You can set up scheduled bill payments, eCheck deposit and specific debit card controls to dictate where and when you can swipe the card. This account comes with the Zelle payment service, allowing you to send and receive money in a peer-to-peer fashion similar to Venmo.
The Ally Assist system embedded in this app can take care of many of the issues or questions you might have. If you’re on the go and need some cash, the ATM locator will help you find a fee-free ATM in your area.
Discover Online Savings Account
The Discover Bank Online Savings Account features a solid interest rate of 0.60%. Interest on this account compounds daily, meaning your money will grow at the fastest rate possible. Like most of Discover’s products, this account has no monthly fees and no minimum deposit, helping customers save and keep money in their pockets. You also won’t pay fees for bank checks, excessive withdrawals, insufficient funds and more.
Discover is a mobile- and online-only bank with no branch locations. If you’re comfortable banking online, this shouldn’t be an issue for you at all, given that the bank has a highly rated mobile app, user-friendly online dashboard and 24/7 customer service. Discover also gives account holders easy access to their account balances, transaction histories, transfers, mobile check deposit and even free credit score reports. All in all, this is a great checking account option for students who are comfortable banking online.
Varo Savings Account
The Varo Savings Account isn’t technically a student account, but it offers many desirable benefits for everyone, including students. The account has a 0.50% APY, which is one of the better rates currently on the market. For this account, Varo does not require a minimum opening deposit, nor are there monthly maintenance fees. You can also gain access to a higher APY of 5.00% by meeting the following requirements during each qualifying period:
- Receive $1,000 or more in qualifying direct deposits
- Have $0 or more in your Varo accounts at the end of the qualifying period
- Do not exceed a savings balance of $5,000 at the end of each business day
To earn the base 0.50% APY, you'll need to maintain an average close-of-business-day balance of at least $11.78 in a 31-day month or $12.17 in a 30-day month. For the upgraded 5.00% APY, you'll need to maintain an average close-of-business-day balance of at least $1.21 in a 31-day month or $1.25 in a 30-day month.
Varo’s services are entirely online, so you won’t have the ability to visit a branch to access a customer service representative. However, the bank’s mobile app has extremely high ratings on both the Android and Apple app stores. Through this platform, you’ll be able to access all the features that you might value in person, including mobile check deposits and automatic savings tools. If you have specific questions, though, you can still contact the bank by phone.
Setting up an account with Varo is relatively easy. You first need to open a Varo Bank checking account, a process that’s easily completed online. Once this step is done, you can then set up your high-yield savings account with Varo. To begin managing your account, simply download the Varo app.
Chime Savings Account
Chime is an entirely online financial technology company. Its services are extremely easy to use and simple, which are qualities that lend themselves to a strong experience for students new to online banking. You'll also have access to a savings APY of 0.50%, which is great by today's standards. You won't be on the hook for any monthly minimums or monthly fees, and you don't need a minimum to open an account. The only fee you'll be on the hook for is a $2.50 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals or over-the-counter transactions.
The main caveat when it comes to opening a Chime Savings Account is the fact that you'll need to first open a Chime Spending Account, Chime's version of a checking account. This account is easy to open and use as well, and it doesn't come with any monthly minimums or fees, so it's not a huge hurdle to have to jump over to open a Savings Account. To make things even better, Chime's mobile app is consitently very highly rated, so you're likely to have a good experience working with your account on a mobile device.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
TIAA Bank Basic Savings Account
The TIAA Bank Basic Savings Account is a solid option for students looking to open a savings account. It becomes a particularly attractive option for anyone that already banks with TIAA or lives in one of several areas around the country that has physical TIAA locations.
This account requires a low minimum of $25 to open. Once you meet this requirement, you'll earn an APY of 0.60% on all balances. You'll avoid the $5 monthly minimum fee by keeping at least $25 in the account.
Another great feature of this account is that TIAA will reimburse ATM fees for any account with an average daily balance of at least $5,000. For accounts with less than this, TIAA will reimburse up to $15 in monthly ATM fees. With TIAA, you'll be able to visit a physical bank location to conduct business, but you can also use the bank's highly-rated mobile app.
CIT Bank Savings Builder Account
The CIT Bank Savings Builder Account offers the potential of a high APY, though you'll need to prioritize saving to reach the top rate. In order to earn its 0.55% APY, you’ll need to either maintain a $25,000 balance or make monthly $100 deposits. For many students, a balance as high as $25,000 is out of reach. However, socking away $100 a month is far more attainable and encourages saving for the future. If you cannot meet either of the requirements for the 0.55% APY, your rate will drop to 0.31%.
To become a Savings Builder Account holder, you must deposit at least $100 in your account at opening. After that, there are no account minimums or monthly maintenance fees.
When it comes to accessing your money, you can make free transfers to other bank accounts, initiate wire transfers or have the bank mail you a check for free. CIT Bank has a large online presence, so you can manage your account online, on your phone or by calling customer service.
Navy Federal Credit Union Basic Savings
The Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) Basic Savings account is another option that isn’t necessarily student-centric. Instead, its benefits just line up well with what most students and their parents are seeking. Even for those without a lot of money to deposit, this account’s $5 minimum is hardly difficult to meet. Furthermore, there are no monthly maintenance fees and a 0.25% APY that, while not particularly high, is still above average.
Although NFCU is a credit union, it affords account holders access to around 30,000 fee-free ATMs throughout its proprietary ATM network and partnerships with the CO-OP Network® and CashPoints®. These ATM networks stretch all around the U.S. and Canada, so you shouldn’t be left in the lurch anywhere you might travel domestically or north of the border. If you need to make a deposit, you can do so at NFCU and CO-OP ATMs, though there may be a waiting period for processing.
Being an NFCU member gets you many perks. These range from special rates on mortgages and auto loans to discounts on certain retail purchases to exclusive banking offers. There are a few ways to become a member with NFCU:
- Be an active or former military or national guard member
- Be a Department of Defense officer candidate, reservist or civilian
- Be an immediate family member of a current member