A good student savings account should deliver a strong interest rate — but the best ones also offer budgeting and goal-setting features designed to help you start building strong financial habits.

To make your search for this important account easier, we identified the best savings options for students and then reviewed them based on their usefulness and rate of return. To make the cut, accounts had to meet the following requirements:

  • No monthly maintenance fee (or one that could be waived)
  • No minimum balance requirements
Compare Savings Accounts Rates for September 2021
Compare Savings Accounts Rates for September 2021
By comparing savings rates, you can search for the best accounts that yield many times the national average.

Check out our top picks for the best student savings accounts below. We offer a range of options, whether you prioritize earning an APY or having built-in budgeting tools.

Best student savings account rate: DCU Primary Savings

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Consider this if you've only just started saving and want the highest possible rate.

  • APY: 6.17% on balances up to $1,000; 0.25% on balances over $1,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $5
  • Monthly fee: $0

Digital Credit Union's Primary Savings account doesn't provide any student-specific features, but it is designed for those just starting to save and doles out a generous 6.17% APY on your first $1,000. Balances above $1,000 earn an APY of 0.25%.

Beyond that, DCU's lack of monthly fees and minimum balances makes it even more convenient as a student savings option. Many major banks ask you to pay maintenance fees on their savings accounts unless you open a linked checking account or establish some form of recurring deposit. At this credit union, you could theoretically deposit the full $1,000 minimum deposit on the day you open the savings account and then leave it alone to earn 6.17% — with no further management required.

While going this route wouldn’t help you in terms of providing practical financial experience, you could easily pair a high-earning account like DCU Primary Savings with another bank or credit union account more suited to your everyday needs.

Membership to DCU is open to anyone who also joins one of its many partner organizations.

Best student savings account with budgeting features: PNC Virtual Wallet Student

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Consider this if you want a bank account that offers budgeting and goal-setting features to help you save.

  • APY: 0.01% on all balances in Reserve and Growth accounts
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $1
  • Monthly fee: $0

Among the accounts we examined, PNC's Virtual Wallet for Students delivers the most useful features and tools for students trying to take charge of their money for the first time. Virtual Wallet comes with two checking accounts (called Spend and Reserve) and one savings account (called Growth). One checking account earns interest for short-term savings goals and one checking account is a non-interest earning account for daily spending. The savings account earns interest and is for long-term savings.

The unique combination of these three accounts may seem overwhelming compared with student options elsewhere, but PNC makes the accounts themselves secondary to Virtual Wallet's online features. Tools like the budget calendar and spending categories make it simple to keep up with your finances. Virtual Wallet also helps you automate your savings, letting you designate an amount to set aside every time you get a paycheck or pay a bill.

As an additional advantage, PNC has a network of 18,000 PNC and partner ATMs you can use with no fee. If you need to use an out-of-network ATM, PNC reimburses the fees for the first two domestic or international non-PNC bank ATM transactions per statement as well as $5 of other financial institutions’ ATM fees per statement period. Other valuable features include one automatic refund of an overdraft or returned item fee associated with your first overdraft event and one incoming domestic or international wire transfer at no charge.

Students may hold this account for up to six years. After that time, this account converts to a traditional PNC Virtual Wallet account.

Best savings account for high school students: Capital One 360 Kids Savings

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Consider this if you're opening an account to help your young child learn good saving habits.

  • APY: 0.3%
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0
  • Monthly fee: $0

The Capital One 360 Kids Savings account is an excellent option for high school students looking to kickstart their savings. The 360 Kids Savings account earns 0.3% APY on any balance, with no monthly fee or opening minimums. This account also boasts student-friendly features, including the ability to link a parent’s account with a kid's account and create customizable savings goals.

This account's one drawback for students is the age limit, which restricts eligibility to those under the age of 18. In addition, a parent or another adult will need to act as joint owner of the account. The adult account holder also has the final say in approving deposits and withdrawals, making the Capital One 360 Kids Savings Account more appropriate for high school students than college-age students.

Still, if you’re a high schooler, the high APY on this account can make it a great starting option to stick with until you're old enough to switch to an account you can control on your own.

Best for out-of-state college students: Bank of America Advantage Savings

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Consider this if you need a bank that can serve you in your hometown and your college town.

  • APY: 0.01%
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0
  • Monthly fee: $8, but waivable if an eligible student or meet certain requirements

While its rates and fees are no better than average, Bank of America represents an accessible choice for students who attend school far from home. As one of the nation's three largest banks, Bank of America has branches across 38 states.

This account is particularly great for students, as those under the age of 24 enrolled in school may be eligible for a fee waiver for the account’s monthly maintenance fee — though once you’re no longer eligible for this fee waiver, you’ll be subject to a monthly maintenance fee of $8 unless you can meet certain requirements.

However, you'll find that the biggest disadvantage at Bank of America — as with any major national bank — is that savings rates stay at the lowest possible levels. While students don't have to pay any monthly account fees while enrolled, you may find that you'd be better off looking elsewhere when you graduate and the bank ends your fee-exempt account status.

At the end of the day, we advise choosing Bank of America if you prefer convenience and accessibility over maximizing your interest or reducing fees.

Summary of best student savings accounts

The following table summarizes the banks and accounts we've reviewed, with a quick comparison of their relevant features. Note that these rates may vary by location.

Account name
Best for...
DCU Primary SavingsEarning interestUp to 6.17%Earns 6.17% on first $1,000 and 0.25% on additional amounts
PNC Virtual Wallet StudentSaving and budgeting0.01% in Reserve and Growth accountsPackage of two checking accounts and one savings account with mobile budgeting/savings tools
Capital One 360 Kids SavingsHigh school students0.3%Joint account for parent and students under 18
Bank of America Advantage SavingsNationwide access0.01%Free accounts for students with nationwide branches and ATMs

Finding other student savings accounts

Most people should have access to at least one of the accounts above, but you may find that none of these banks offer decent service near your school or home. If that's the case, we suggest that you consider a dual approach.

Start by looking for a low-maintenance online savings account that you can use as a vehicle to grow your savings for the long-term. Prioritize finding an account with high interest rates and low fees for upkeep and transfer activity. Then, shop for a bank or credit union that serves your school’s area with plenty of access to ATMs and branches. Such places make great candidates for your checking account, but also tend to include savings accounts at no extra charge.

While these brick-and-mortar savings accounts won't earn nearly as much interest as the account you opened online, they might be useful if a separate balance will help you save for an individual goal. However, if you have your own way of dividing up your savings, it's also possible to keep everything in a single high-interest account.

What is a student savings account?

Many banks and credit unions offer savings accounts specifically for high school and/or college students. These accounts are typically designed to encourage young people to start saving, and often boast special perks for students, such as fee waivers and budgeting tools.

What should students look for in a savings account?

Many student savings accounts offer no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance requirements, as well as access to ATMs. Other common features offered on student savings accounts include budgeting tools, and sometimes even decent interest earned on funds.

What happens to your student savings account when you are no longer a student?

While it differs based on your financial institution, many student deposit accounts are automatically converted to the bank’s regular savings account when the account holder reaches a certain age. Be sure to check your bank’s policy before committing to a student savings account.

Is a student savings account worth it?

Yes, a student savings account can be a great tool to utilize if you want to start stashing cash away, while also taking advantage of special perks such as fee waivers. However, other savings accounts may have more attractive features — such as higher APYs or ATM reimbursements — and in many cases, you won’t be eligible for a student savings account once you’re no longer a student, which are factors worth taking into consideration.

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