Do I Need a Bank Account for College?

Getting a college degree is an admirable feat. The years you spend in college can shape you in many ways. It affects your job prospects, your social circle - including your potential spouse or life partner - and your outlook in life. The rigors of higher education help to discipline you and sharpen your mental skills. So, if you’re a student who is about to start college, congratulations on this new phase in your life.

While college is great, it can also be unnerving. There are too many things you need to plan, figure out, and organize - and that’s before you even start attending classes! Apart from choosing your classes and setting up your residence, one of the most important things that you need to consider is if you need a student bank account for college.

For international students, the answer is a resounding yes. International students do need to have a chequing account in a Canadian bank when they attend college in Canada. But, what if you’re a Canadian student? Do you still need to have a bank account when you go to college? For you, the answer is...still a yes! Here's why.

Start Your Financial Journey

There’s never going to be a perfect time to start your financial journey. But around the time you start college is pretty close to ideal. You’ll be moving out of your parents’ house and stepping into the real world. Learning to manage your finances at this point will help you set a solid foundation for the future. Opening a bank account is the best first step you can take towards learning about finances first-hand. It is also an important steppingstone towards managing your own money and budgeting independently.

Build Your Credit History

A key part of your financial journey is building a good credit history for yourself. How can you do that if you don’t have a bank account? Getting a bank account will give you easy access to a credit card. You can use your credit card (wisely!) to build your credit score. You can buy all sorts of things with your credit card from groceries to a new haircut. But remember, credit cards are especially useful for big purchases like your textbooks. Depending on the card you have, you can get cash back or other rewards like points, every time you use your card to pay. Just make sure you pay your credit card bills on time to maintain a great credit score.

Pay Your Tuition

Many colleges require you to pay your tuition fees either through online banking or by depositing the fees at a Canadian bank or financial institution. Both payment methods are much easier when you have your own bank account. It makes the whole process of transferring your fees much easier. Usually, the transfer may take some time to go through - between 3-5 business days. When you have your own bank account, you can check in to find out the status of your transaction.

Deposit Your Paycheque

If you’re planning to get a part-time job while studying in college, you absolutely need to get your own bank account. If your employer uses direct deposit, they’ll put your paycheque automatically into your bank account for you. This will save you the hassle of going to the bank every time it’s pay day. You can also conveniently set up automatic payments to pay your bills. What a perfect segue!

Pay Your Bills

That’s right. All those living expenses add up. Apart from writing papers and cramming for finals you will also have to remember to pay your bills in time to avoid paying late payment fees. When you have a bank account, you will never have to worry about paying your bills if you set up pre-authorized payments. This allows the company you owe money to, say your phone provider, to automatically debit your account for your bill amount each month. No more forgetting to pay or lost bills buried somewhere on the counter. Adulting 101. You’re welcome.

Save Money

One of the main reasons people get bank accounts is to keep their money safe. But we’re not talking only about safe keeping. Many banks offer special student bank accounts that you can get at a discount. (Of course, you can also opt for a No-Fee Bank Account from Innovation and pay nothing, even as an adult! You’ll never have to switch accounts later in life. It’s free no matter how old you are.)

Use Online Banking or a Banking App

One of the marvels of modern technology is the ability to complete all your banking from your dorm or student housing, without even getting out of bed. When you have a bank account, you can use online banking - transfer funds, check your account balance, pay bills and more right from your laptop or phone.

You can even pay for things using your phone with Apple Pay™ and Google Pay™. It’s like having a debit card inside your phone. On-the-go banking is one of the most convenient things you can experience once you get a bank account.

Access ATMs

Another great thing about having a bank account is you can have access to money whenever you need it. All banks have ATMs, which means you can easily withdraw cash in case of an emergency. It’s also convenient to use an ATM when you’re on holidays or have to pay for anything at a place that does not accept cards. While you may have to pay a fee to use an ATM that belongs to another bank, it’s still a great convenience that you can enjoy when you get a bank account. Of course, when you get a bank account at Innovation you can use a whole network of ding-free ATMs across the country, for free. Just saying.

Get Cheques (Or Use Them for Proof)

Does anyone even issue cheques anymore? You’d be surprised. A cheque with your name is often required for many types of applications. Some landlords also appreciate post-dated rent cheques for the duration of your school year. A bank account will make this possible. Plus, signing your name on your first official cheque is pretty cool.

Get Loans Easily

Did you know it’s much easier to get a bank loan from your own bank? When you are a bank's customer, they already have a relationship with you - one they want to build further. So, if you ever need a loan - for a new car, a mortgage, or even just a personal loan to buy something special - your first option should be to ask your bank. They will most likely offer you better rates. You may even find your bank offering you pre-approved loans without you even asking. It’s amazing because you don’t have to worry about your loan request being rejected.

Earn Money

Bank accounts aren’t just for keeping your money safe or to gain access to financial products and services. They can also help you earn money. How? Banks pay you some amount of interest on the money deposited into a savings account. The larger the sum, the more interest you can earn. You can even explore investing to earn money by keeping it locked in for a set time.

Another way you can earn money by banking, is through a bank’s customer rewards or loyalty program. At Innovation we have a program called Member Rewards for everyday banking™. Not to toot our own horn, but it is one of the best credit union rewards programs in the country. Our customers earn money for banking they would generally do daily. And you can too - when you open your bank account.

Give Back to the Community

Can opening a bank account actually help you give back to the larger community? It can, if you open an account with the right bank. All banks will have some social responsibility initiatives in place, so it is something you should check before you open your bank account. At Innovation, we practice Responsible Banking™, a large part of which involves offering sponsorships, donations, supporting the youth, providing access to financial services, creating job opportunities, and even donating volunteer hours. When you open a bank account with us, you directly support these initiatives.

Ready to Open a Bank Account?

As you can see, there are many advantages to having a bank account. In fact, many would argue that it is an essential for a college student. Managing a bank account can offer quite a practical educational experience in and of itself. It will teach you to cope with the flow of income and expenses. It will teach you about official processes and dealing with institutions. It can even teach you how to be self-reliant and make smart decisions.

Your own bank account gives you greater access to financial services and provides you with financial freedom. It can also act as a safety net by allowing you easy access to loans and lines of credit. Bank accounts also provide legitimacy to you as an independent individual, out in the real world.

Ready to get your own bank account? We’ll take you through everything you need to apply so you can start as an Innovation member today.