Student savings accounts are an area of banking that has been traditionally under-served. The reason is that many students don't have "much" to save. But just because you don't have a lot of money doesn't mean that you shouldn't get to have great savings account options.
However, over the past few years, banks have started to realize that students and young adults are key to future growth. And many banks are investing in this relationship by offering top savings accounts for student savers.
If you're looking for your first bank account, or maybe you're just looking for a better savings account, this article is for you.
When college students look for a online bank, they want a few key things:
- They don't want to pay any fees
- They want easy access to their money from anywhere
Here are the best savings accounts for students that meet this criteria. If you want the quick answer, CIT Bank is consistently one of our top banks for online savings accounts because they offer high interest rates, low minimums, and have a great online product. Open an CIT Savings Builder Account here >>
Check out our list of the best savings accounts for students below.
The Best Savings Accounts For Students
Choosing a high yield savings account for students isn’t rocket science – although you do need to watch out for banks that advertise higher rates but come with a catch, like minimum balances or a teaser rate that drops after a few months.
The banks we feature here have no minimum balance, no monthly or low balance fees, and the advertised rates are permanent. Their rates differ slightly, but they’re otherwise similar: All offer 24/7 customer service and electronic transfers within a couple of days.
You might notice that most of these banks are online. That's okay! That's what allows them to offer the higher rates and low costs compared to your local bank. As a student, it's also great to have a bank that specializes in online banking. That way, you know you can access your money from anywhere. Plus, you might want to combine these savings accounts with a college student checking account here.
We maintain an updated list of the best online savings accounts for students here. This list is updated daily with the best rates and terms you can find. While we recommend CIT Bank Savings Builder, there are definitely other accounts on this list that you should strongly consider. Check it out here:
CIT Bank's Savings Builder account is one of our favorite for college student savings accounts because they consistently have a top yielding account, and you get the best rate for working on your savings!
Right now, you can earn up to 0.40% APY.
It does require a $100 minimum deposit to open. To earn the top rate, you need to either deposit $25,000 (which is scary for a college student), or you can deposit $100 per month. We like the monthly option because it encourages savings.
Read our full CIT Savings Builder review.
Discover Bank has been doing amazing things in online banking for the last couple of years, including delivering a great student checking account, and also an awesome online savings account.
The account is great because there is $0 minimum, and $0 monthly maintenance fees.
Right now you can earn 0.40% APY.
Read our full Discover Bank review.
Radius Bank doesn't directly have a college savings account, but they have a Rewards Checking account, which makes savings and spending incredibly easily. You basically get the best of both checking and savings combined into one account.
The Rewards Checking account currently earns 0.15%.
There is a $100 minimum to open, and no monthly fees.
Read our full Radius Bank Review.
HSBC consistently maintains one of the highest yielding online savings accounts. They are always raising their interest rate to be competitive and at the top. Furthermore, their platform is easy to use and you can sign up and have your savings account funded in just minutes.
There are no gimmicks with HSBC - you earn interest on your entire balance, and you have a low minimum to get started.
Right now, you can earn a 0.15% APY.
Read our full HSBC review.
BBVA Bank doesn't make very many lists (which is strange), because they have some of the best interest rates and online accounts available. We love them, and highly recommend them as a top online savings account for students.
They have a low minimum, high yield savings account that can be accessed anywhere online.
Right now, you can earn a 0.01% APY. This account is offered by BBVA USA, Member FDIC.
Read our full BBVA review here.
American Express Bank
Most people think about American Express for their credit cards (and we love the best American Express Credit Cards). However, American Express also consistently has one of the top savings accounts available based on interest rate. And this is great for students because they have $0 minimum to open.
Right now, you can earn 0.40% APY.
Check out our full American Express Savings Account review.
American Express was my first online bank account and I got it after high school to deposit some of the money I received for graduation. It served me well as a savings account for college student!
Marcus By Goldman Sachs
I had never heard of this bank until this year, but they have been making a full advertising blitz to get the word out. This new banking product consistently has some of the best rates and terms you're going to find online. They are always at the top of the list of best interest rates, and it only has a $1 minimum to open an account.
Right now, you can earn 0.50% APY.
Check out our full Marcus By Goldman Sachs review.
Our Criteria For Assessing Savings Accounts For Students
As we mentioned earlier, college students have different criteria that other bank patrons. When we look at savings account options for students, we look at the following criteria:
1. No Fees
We firmly believe that savings accounts should be free. This means no fees. No monthly fees. No transaction fees. No fees to withdraw your money. We also hate accounts that require certain things like direct deposit.
Free should actually be free.
A lot of traditional banks nickel and dime their consumers, so while you might earn a high interest rate on your money, you might also find out very quickly that you're losing that same "extra interest" to fees.
Always keep fees at the top of mind when assessing a bank.
2. Easy To Access Your Money
We believe that it should be easy to access your money. It's your money! It shouldn't be locked away somewhere that you can't easily get to. If you want something that isn't as easy to access, check out our article on the Best High Yield CDs.
With easy access, consumers should be able to go online and quickly and easily see their money, setup transfers and withdraws, and have no fees to have this access.
Furthermore, we love the online banks because, unlike local banks, they are available nationwide. Some local banks may have trouble helping a student who went away to college.
You might also look into finding a money market account that is very similar to a savings account. We maintain a list of the best money market accounts here.
Are Online Savings Accounts Safe?
You might be concerned using an online savings account - but you shouldn't be. Just like a regular bank, online banks are FDIC insured and your money is just as safe as it would be at a regular bank.
In fact, you might even notice some of the banks above because of their national presence.
Online banks are just as safe as traditional brick and mortar banks. But they come with an added benefit! Since they don't have to maintain a bunch of physical offices, they can pass a lot of that savings onto the consumer - you! That's why many of the top banks that offer the best interest rates on savings accounts are online only.
Comparing The Best Savings Accounts For Students
Here are some other great acconts that you should consider:
College Student Savings FAQ
Now that you know the best accounts, here are some common questions we get a lot about college student savings accounts.
What makes a college student savings account different?
College student savings accounts are designed for a college student. This means they usually have no minimum balance requirements, no fees, and are usually online.
Should college students have a savings account?
Yes! Savings is important at any age, and college students should focus on saving at least $100 per month.
What should a college student look for in an account?
College students should find an account that matches their needs. This usually means being online or app-based, no minimums, no fees, and easy to use.
Are savings accounts worth it?
Yes! Savings accounts are a great way to safely store excess cash that could be needed for emergencies and more.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.