With college costs rising every year, students need all the help they can get to save money. I recently started using NerdWallet’s* tools, and it has helped save me a few hundred dollars a year (and lots of time). I thought I’d share some of the things I learned to help save you money.
1) Checking accounts with no fees
Free checking is difficult to find these days. Banks often charge a monthly fee that can easily end up costing over $100 a year, especially since most of us don’t meet qualifications to waive the fee (direct depositing, maintaining absurdly high balances minimums). Moreover, frequent withdrawals from an ATM not associated with your bank will cost you a few dollars each time. Before you know it, you’ve paid the bank $130 each year, just for holding your hard-earned cash.
Luckily, there still seem to be some checking accounts left that won’t charge you for everything you do. Based on my answers to their questionnaire, NerdWallet’s checking tool recommended Citibank’s* Student Account, which doesn’t charge any monthly fees or out-of-network ATMs fees. Now you can go eat at Westwood’s cash only places (Diddy Riese!) and not have to worry about paying unnecessary fees.
2) Rewards credit card
Having a good credit card can also help save you money. As a student, my biggest expenses are food and textbooks – every quarter I spend a few hundred dollars on the former and a few hundred on the latter. Little did I know, I could have been using a credit card and getting 5% back in rewards for all those purchases. For example, there are credit cards for students that will give you 5% rewards on books (including Amazon!), movies, music, and dining out. You can even use the rewards points to help pay off student loans. To sign up, you need either a steady source of income or a co-signer (a parent). Just be sure you pay off your balance in full every month, or the interest will end up costing you. (Oh, and if you’re interested in a card with low APR, there’s a tool for that too!)
Lastly, if you want to learn more about how to manage your finances, NerdWallet has an excellent primer here.
*NerdWallet, Inc. and Citibank are not endorsed by, the University of California Los Angeles.