Student Bank Accounts

As we discussed in our section on youth savings accounts, kids get a pretty good deal when it comes to banking. Like youth, students can also get special discounts on bank accounts when they are attending a post-secondary institution, and long past the age of 19. Keep reading to find out more.

What are student bank accounts?

Student bank accounts are bank accounts designed to help post-secondary students save money on monthly fees, for as long as they are in school. While each bank will have its own specific requirements to open a student account, you will always need to be enrolled (usually full-time) in a post-secondary program at a recognized educational institution, such as a university, community college, or CEGEP in Quebec, to open an account. You must also be within a defined age range, typically 18-25 years old, though this can vary.

What are the advantages of student bank accounts?

On top of the fact that student bank accounts typically come with no or low monthly fees, some of their other advantages include:

  • Unlimited or numerous debit transactions per month
  • A specified number of free email money transfers
  • Rebates toward the annual fee of certain credit cards

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What is needed to apply for a student bank account?

As with all bank accounts, two pieces of ID are required to apply for a student bank account in Canada. In addition, the bank will usually ask you for proof of enrollment in a full-time post-secondary program. In some cases, the account will only stay open for four years – the length of many college and university programs. If you remain enrolled for longer than that, you will then need to re-apply, again with proof of enrollment, in order to keep the account.

How to choose the best student bank account

Depending on how you intend to use the account, different options may be more enticing. Here are some questions to ask yourself, before you decide which account to open:

  • Do you need unlimited transactions, or are you ok with the limited number included, such as 30 transactions per month?
  • If having unlimited transactions means paying a monthly fee, is the fee worth it? Compare that monthly fee vs. the transactional fees for other accounts.
  • How important is ATM access to you? Does the financial institution you’re considering have ATMs close to your house and/or campus? Or will you be doing mostly online banking?

What happens when you’re no longer a student

When you submit your final exam and graduate from your program, your bank will, in most cases, automatically switch you over to a chequing account. If you read the fine print on your bank’s website, you should find some language that says they will open an account consistent with your past transaction history. What this means is that if you were constantly making debit transactions or email money transfers, the bank will open an account geared towards that activity. For instance, they might choose one that has unlimited debit transactions. The obvious risk in this situation is that you get put in an account that has substantial fees you would like to avoid. One way to get around this potential issue is to tell the bank the specific account you would like, in advance of your student account automatically being closed.