How to Choose Best Debit Card for College Students

Written by Banks Editorial Team
3 min. read
Written by Banks Editorial Team
3 min. read

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Debit cards make it easier to access your money. They’re typically issued when you open a checking account at a traditional bank, online bank or credit union, and you can use them to make everyday purchases, pay bills and withdraw cash from ATMs. Some online financial technology platforms, like Current, also offer debit cards to consumers. 

But with so many options available, it can be challenging to select the most suitable debit card product for you as a college student. So, read on to learn more about top recommendations and what to look for when evaluating debit cards. 

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What Bank Should You Consider as a College Student?

It depends on your unique financial needs and preferences. However, the option you select should feature incentives to open a bank account, easily accessible ATMs, minimal fees and a low opening deposit requirement. Also, it’s vital that the bank offers exceptional customer service and digital platforms (i.e., website and mobile app) to foster a seamless, enjoyable online banking experience.

Are There Any Debit Cards that Work Best for College Students?

Debit cards that are most optimal for college students are attached to checking accounts with the features mentioned above—more on what to look for in these accounts shortly. 

How to Choose the Best Debit Card for College Students: Things to Consider

When evaluating the best checking accounts for students that come with debit cards, consider these factors. 

Account Opening Perks and Rewards

Some banks and credit unions reward new account holders with a cash deposit when opening an account and meeting certain criteria within a set period. You could also receive other perks when making debit card purchases with select retailers. 

ATM Network

Use the ATM locator tool found on the financial institution’s website to determine if ATMs are available in your local area. If not, you may incur fees each time you withdraw cash unless the bank or credit union offers reimbursement when using select out-of-network ATMs, which isn’t uncommon with online banks and some credit unions. 

Fees

Take a look at the fee schedule for student checking accounts. In most instances, you’ll find that these accounts are fee-free, with the exception of overdraft and NSF fees. But if the bank or credit union charges monthly maintenance fees or any other fees, it’s best to look elsewhere for an account. 

Earn 4.00% APY on your Savings

Mobile banking done better. No overdraft fees/hidden fees. Get paid up to two days faster with direct deposit. Earn up to 15x the points on swipes.

Account Balance and Deposit

It’s best to only consider financial institutions that don’t require you to carry a certain daily balance or make a hefty deposit to open a student checking account. 

Digital Features

View the website and read ratings of the mobile app. Are they full of features that will make your banking experience a pleasant one, or could the platforms use more upgrades? Consider the answers to these questions before deciding to open an account. 

Customer Service

What are the financial institution’s hours of operation? Do they have physical locations you can visit, or is support only available online? What are past and current customers saying about the level and quality of service provided? These are just a few questions to ponder to gauge if the bank or credit union may be a good fit for you. 

Where College Students Can Easily Get a Debit Card

Student checking accounts at banks or credit unions are just one way to get a debit card. But if you want a more innovative option that offers generous incentives and helps you reach your savings goals faster, consider Current. 

Dubbed as the future of banking, Current is a financial technology company that features an assortment of valuable perks, including: 

  • Faster direct deposit: You can opt to receive your paycheck up to two days sooner when you enroll in direct deposit with Current.
  • Fee-free ATMs: Current users can access their cash at more than 40,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide without incurring out-of-network ATM fees.
  • Generous rewards: The most exciting benefit of being a Current member is the ability to earn up to 15 points per dollar spent when you make purchases at qualifying retailers. There are over 14,000 participating retailers, and you can redeem the points earned for cashback rewards.
  • No hidden fees: There are no monthly service fees or maintenance fees, minimum balance fees, bank transfer fees or overdraft fees. Plus, you can initiate instant transfers free of charge to other Current members.
  • Overdrive overdraft protection: You’ll get overdraft protection between $25 and $250 if you’re enrolled in direct deposit and receive deposits of at least $500 per month.
  • Savings pods: Current pays up to 4 percent in interest when using its Savings pods feature as a savings account to grow your money faster
  • Teen banking: Your teenager can get easy access to their funds with this student account. It’s designed for high school students and other young people with parents in mind. It features mobile check deposit and direct deposit capabilities, and there are no average daily balance or minimum balance requirements. Even better, the account can be managed from the mobile banking app.

Current offers banking solutions through Choice Financial Group, Member FDIC. So, deposits of up to $250,000 are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. 

Current is available on the AppStore and Google Play, and it takes less than two minutes to sign up. Download the mobile app or enter your mobile phone number into the online form on the website to get started. Don’t have an iPhone or iPad? You’re not completely out of luck, and the good news is the app is coming soon on Google Play. It’s a good idea to join the Android waiting list, so you’ll know when it becomes available for download on your mobile device. 

Current

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