UW-W Student Banking Options

Even with the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of students are either returning to school or moving closer to campus for online courses. Whether you had your own bank account before you started college or not, deciding which one to use while you’re on campus or away can be a challenge.

Do you want a large, national bank or a small credit union? Below I reviewed the most popular student banking options at UW-Whitewater.

Large Commercial Banks

Many people like the convenience of big banks. Not only are there many locations, but larger commercial banks like Chase, Bank of America, and Citi have locations no matter where you travel in the United States.

Here are some of the services big banks tend to offer.

  • Annual credit reports
  • Money transfer apps (such as Zelle)
  • Connect easy to Venmo or PayPal
  • Deposit checks by taking a photo of it on your phone
  • Sync your checking or savings with your credit cards
  • Simulate a home mortgage rate, auto loan, or personal loan

Before signing up make sure that the fees are within reason. A lot of banks charge a small monthly fee of $1-5 per month if your account isn’t holding $10,000 or more.

You should also check what the ATM fees are if you use a different bank. Most ATMs charge their own fee as well, so it’s likely that you might end up paying $3-4 to your bank, plus a $3-4 ATM servicing fee. It might not seem like much the first few times, but it racks up a lot faster than you think!

Overall though, a large commercial bank is the go-to option for students because of their convenience and familiarity.

Credit Unions

A credit union is another good option for students, but usually goes overlooked. Most offer faculty and student checking and savings accounts.

Here are some of the benefits of joining a credit union.

  • Low minimum account balance
  • Zelle payment transfers
  • Fewer ATM and overdraft fees
  • Better rates on savings accounts
  • An emphasis on financial education – credit unions are a good resource for students or first-time account holders.
  • Personalized banking assistance
  • Easier loan qualifications
  • Lower interest rates on loans

UW-Whitewater has partnerships to provide convenient access to financial services right on campus. There’s ATMs scattered around campus as well.

Financial products include everything from student checking and savings accounts, to renters insurance or home mortgage loans.

Local Banks

Similar to a credit union, a local bank offers a community-friendly atmosphere. Instead of an automated voice system, you can call them directly or walk into the local branch office to discuss. In many cases, the employees of a local bank live in the community.

Benefits of a local bank:

  • Low interest rates on loans
  • Fewer banking penalties (i.e. minimum account balance)
  • Reimbursed ATM fees
  • Student credit cards with lower interest rates
  • Convenient location(s) around campus

Like credit unions, local banks are usually confined to a specific city, state or region.

At UW-Whitewater, the popular banks are Associated and First Citizens State Bank.

Associated Bank is larger than most with hundreds of branch locations spread throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. First Citizens State Bank is actually based in Whitewater and has two branch offices there.

Online Banks

The birth of 4G internet has made it easier than ever to do all your banking online. Since they’re fully digital, they make it super easy to connect your accounts with the most popular online and mobile apps:

  • Zelle payments
  • Cash App
  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Photo check deposit

For example, if your parents are lending you money while at school, they can simply transfer money over Zelle or Cash App.

Before signing up for an online bank account, check the ATM fees online. Some online banks reimburse ATM fees up to a certain amount each month.

FYI: PayPal and Venmo have free ATM withdrawal from machines that display Mastercard, Pulse or Cirrus (domestic withdrawal fee may apply).

No matter which banking option you choose, being smart about convenience, hidden fees and penalties, and what your personal needs are is important. After all, staying on track with school should be your first priority, so the goal is to make it as convenient (and cheap) as possible.