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Banking Basics

9 Questions Students Should Ask Before Opening a New Bank Account

If you’re new to banking, opening your first account can seem like an overwhelming experience. Depending on your stage in life, it can also be empowering; a step toward financial independence, giving you the freedom to set personal goals and start doing more things for yourself. While opening a new account may seem complicated, there are a few simple things you can keep in mind to make the process stress-free.

1. What type of account should I open?

For your first account, you should keep things simple. A free checking account is a good place to start, allowing you to pay with the swipe of a card at most retailers, withdraw cash, and manage your money through a variety of online and mobile tools. There are plenty of free accounts out there, so make sure you find one that fits your lifestyle.

2. How much does it cost to open an account?

While many banks require an initial deposit that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, checking accounts without deposit requirements exist. Their availability can vary from bank to bank, and some may even have hidden fees and significant limitations. At N26, our accounts don’t require a minimum deposit, so you can bank your way no matter your situation.

3. What documents do I need to open an account?

You will find that the answer to this question varies. Before opening an account, make sure to check online for the documents each account requires. Generally, they may ask for any of the following information:

  • A valid government issued photo ID
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Proof of residency (this less common, but some traditional banks do ask for it)

4. Do I need to keep a minimum amount of money in my account?

Some accounts have minimum balance requirements — that is, a minimum amount of money that banks require you to keep in your account from month to month. If you don't manage to do so, you may have to pay a fee. While maintaining a minimum balance may not seem like a big deal in the beginning, keep in mind that you might need access to those funds in case of an emergency. Once you dip below the minimum balance, it can be hard to get your head above water again. When choosing an account, make sure it is a good fit for wherever you are in your financial journey.

5. What other fees might I have to pay?

Banking fine print can be tricky, and if you’re not careful, hidden fees can surface seemingly out of nowhere. There are plenty to watch out for when choosing your first bank account, but here are some fairly common culprits:

Overdraft fees: Many accounts for people who are new to banking come with an overdraft service, which allows you to spend more money than is actually available in your account. While this could help you out in a pinch, it's a bit of a double-edged sword: If you dip into your overdraft, you may have to pay a fee — in some cases for every purchase over the limit. For your first bank account, it's a good idea to look for a bank with no hidden overdraft fees or tricky overdraft programs.

ATM fees: Many traditional banks have a network of ATMs that you can use to withdraw money when you need it. But these ATMs aren't everywhere, and if you use ATMs outside of your network, you'll probably have to pay a fee or two to take your money out. N26 offers a large network of partner ATMs, plus the added benefit of instantly reimbursing all fees for two out-of-network transactions each month.

Transfer fees: Many banks will charge you to transfer funds from one account to another. That can be annoying if you want to send money to a friend or from your savings to your checking account. Peer to peer alternatives exit, but they may include grace periods and in some cases transfer fees. When you bank with N26, you can use MoneyBeam to instantly send and receive money to and from anyone with an N26 account.

Foreign transaction fees: This is definitely one to pay attention to if you like to travel. International spending can become a costly experience, as some banks will charge you for transactions made in different currencies or in different countries. N26 doesn’t charge foregin transaction fees when you pay with your card abroad, so you can travel with peace of mind.

6. Will my new bank account impact my credit score?

Actually, it won’t. Credit scores measure your reliability when it comes to paying back money loaned to you within a certain time frame. Checking and savings accounts are for depositing and withdrawing existing funds — that means they have no impact on your credit score whatsoever.

7. How long it will take to open an account?

It varies from bank to bank. Accounts at some traditional banks can take the better part of an afternoon, while others take significantly less time. Of course, you should keep in mind all of the advice here to make sure you find an account that best suits your needs, but if speed and flexibility are important to you, keep an eye out for accounts with a strong focus on mobile banking. You can open an N26 account in 5 minutes, anytime, anywhere.

8. What if I have a problem? How do I know I can rely on great customer service?

Before you open any account, you should find out what real customers and industry professionals are saying. Pay attention to feedback on social media and understand the customer service channels available. Ask yourself: Is it easy to send questions or speak to someone? Do they have comprehensive FAQs? How late are helplines open? Is it easy to get prompt attention when I need it?

9. How do I know that I've chosen the right account?

There's no one-size-fits-all banking solution, and there are many, many options out there. Just make sure to do your research, understand your priorities, and find an account that offers the necessary tools to help you manage your money and reach your goals, whatever they might be.

No hidden fees, early pay day, personalized goals? No problem. Open an N26 account in 5 minutes directly from your phone and experience banking designed for your mobile lifestyle.

The N26 account is offered by Axos Bank®, Member FDIC. N26 Inc. is a service provider of Axos Bank. All deposit accounts of the same ownership and/or vesting held at Axos Bank are combined and insured under the same FDIC Certificate 35546. All deposit accounts through Axos Bank brands are not separately insured by the FDIC from other deposit accounts held with the same ownership and/or vesting at Axos Bank. The N26 Visa® Debit Card is issued by Axos Bank pursuant to a license by Visa U.S.A. Inc. The N26 Visa Debit Card may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

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