Financially, these are confusing times for college students. Most campuses closed in March after the Covid-19 outbreak grew into a pandemic, throwing many of their plans, financial and otherwise, into chaos.
So what happens now? When it comes to money and financial products for college students, it’s a good time to be thinking conservatively when it comes to these products. Despite the availability of credit, things are likely to be tight at least through the rest of the year, so if you’re a student its good to know about all your financial options.
Checking accounts are the traditional first option, but credit unions are often better for college students. Most credit unions operate like banks, but one important difference is that the fees are lower and the loan rates are better. Credit unions are also improving their online banking services, and the accounts can often be kept open after students graduate.
Savings accounts may be considered boring and traditional, but they’re still a great choice for students. College students should choose accounts that offer ATM deposits—the convenience can make a world of difference.
If you’re looking at student loans, the best options are still federal. They have fixed rates and they tend to be cheaper, and they’re generally easier to get.
Credit cards rank below the aforementioned options, but if you’re a student and you do decide to get one, do it through a credit union. You’ll get a much better rate, and the late payment feels will make be a lot lower.
The final option is investment accounts. They’re a great investment vehicle, but brokerage fees often discourage low-level investors such as college students. There are some accounts, though, that come with very low expenses, and the icing on the cake is that they track broad market indexes.
Schwab is one company that offers this kind of account, and there are other companies that offer low-cost mutual funds.
Knowing the choices is one of the best ways to manage your finances, and there are more choices available for college students than most people think, so make sure to at least consider all of them.