Are you a college student or young professional who is ready to have an account of your own? Are you a parent hoping to teach your child financial responsibility? Opening an account can be beneficial for college students, young adults, children, and teens. But starting out with a standard checking account may be too overwhelming. Instead, when you’re looking to open a very first account, you want to be sure it has elements that are specifically designed for a newcomer’s experience, needs, and convenience. Read on below to find out what should be included in a starter checking account.
No Charge to Open
When you’re already a member of a financial institution, opening a starter account shouldn’t come with any charge or additional fees. Likewise, these accounts should be fairly easy to apply for and open. If it’s a strenuous process, that probably doesn’t bode well for the account as a whole.
Little to No Minimum Balance
Usually, a financial institution requires a starting balance of $100 to $1,000. But when someone is opening their first account—especially if that person is younger than 18 years old—they likely won’t have much money yet. Therefore, a financial institution shouldn’t expect them to provide the same type of minimum balance as a financially established adult. Instead, there should either be no minimum balance requirement or a very low one, such as $5.
Lack of Fees
You want to be able to save as much as you can at first, not worry about how much of your money the financial institution will take away. A starter checking account shouldn’t have the same amount of fees as a more established account. This includes standard monthly fees and transaction fees. Transaction fees include charges for deposits, withdrawals, transfers, and debit card purchases. Luckily, most starter checking accounts charge little to no fees. You should very carefully look over the information before opening an account to make sure that there are no hidden or unclear costs.
In addition to having fewer fees, a starter checking account should also not charge for certain features. For instance, you should make sure to choose an account that includes free checking. At financial institutions like banks and credit unions, ones like Rivermark Community Credit Union, for example, can provide free financial assistance due to our partnership with Balance.
Transactions and Deposits
Ideally, a starter checking account should have no limits when it comes to transactions. For deposits, we recommend making one at least once every six months to keep the account active.
Helpful and Educational Elements
The right starter checking account should be designed to help a young person to build up good credit. At some institutions, for instance, the accounts designed for teens include a Visa debit card. Having good credit early, as well as learning to save money and make smart financial decisions from the start, will really pay off down the line.
For younger kids, look for a starter account at a credit union that offers fun and educational activities. It’s never too early to learn about the importance of saving. The fun activities ensure they will actually pay attention and absorb the information.
For teenagers, saving money to prepare for the future is even more important. The credit union you choose should have plenty of resources specifically aimed at teens on their website. This includes information they’re surely excited about, such as preparing for college and how to save up for a first car.
Teens and young adults will also likely be more interested in making the account decision themselves. Or at least having significant input in the choice. One very helpful guide for choosing, opening, and responsibly using a checking account is available from Money Under 30.
Online Tools and Resources
Younger people are more likely to take care of their important information online. When it comes to their finances, mobile and online banking will be much easier and more convenient for them. Features such as e-statements are also more environmentally friendly than traditional mailed paper statements. Young people will love being able to pay the bills they have online and even set up automatic payments. A starter checking account should be able to be accessed online and without any extra charge.
There should be a mobile app available, with notifications and alerts. Mobile app features should include the ability to deposit checks via Wi-Fi, instead of needing to go to a bank or an ATM. Usually, this is as simple as taking a picture of the check with your phone’s camera. The mobile app should also be free and easy to use.
Mobile apps and online features ensure a starter checking account is very accessible. This is another important element to look out for when searching for the best one.
You always want to make sure your money is safe, especially when opening an account to set up a foundation of savings. And even if an account has very little money in it. Having protection for your money is always necessary.
This is why the financial institution you open a starter checking account with should have some safety measures, such as insurance. At credit unions, deposits are typically insured by the National Credit Union Administration. But don’t just assume that a credit union is covered by NCUA—double-check before opening an account with them.
While the accessibility of mobile and online banking should make it easier to keep track of the money in an account, it’s easy to overlook and make mistakes. Especially when someone isn’t used to having a checking account. When you’re still learning about checking accounts, you shouldn’t be punished for accidents like an overdraft. Unfortunately, some financial institutions charge fees for this. That’s why you should look for a starter account that includes overdraft protection.
Whether you’re opening an account for yourself or someone else and you’re in the Portland area, Rivermark Community Credit Union has great starter checking account options. In general, you can trust that your financial needs will be in good hands. You can find information about the account options and so much more on the website.