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Banking and financial institutions

An important part of money management is making sure that you understand the importance of banking. Some of you didn’t open a chequing account while you were still living and studying at home. At that stage, a basic savings account is likely to be all you needed - as a home for hard-saved money, like birthday and Christmas cash gifts.  But now that you’re at university you'll almost certainly need an account with more services and options to help you pay your way in the world. 

Shop around to find the best account for your needs. Most banks and credit unions are happy to offer student accounts - they hope you'll stick with them for life, as many people do. Student accounts usually have no fees or very low fees with unlimited debit transactions and perks designed to appeal to students. 

Banks can include a range of incentives to sign up, such as free CDs, MP3’s or discounts on movies and travel. However, before you sign up just because you're attracted by a free MP3, think about what you need from a current account. Most accounts will provide some services as a minimum, but there may be some specific requirements that could make a big difference to you, like access to a student banking advisor or provide loans for postgraduate training.  

Things to consider when choosing a bank or financial instituion:

  • Recognition: Make sure that the bank accepts and processes Government Issued Loan documents. Some government funding programs only authorized specific banking institutions to process their government loan documents.
  • Overdraft: One of the key features of a current account is its overdraft facility.  However, nothing is free and the fees or interest rate you pay can go through the roof.  
  • Free Banking: Check that free banking is offered. This generally means that you can operate the basics of your account without incurring costs, so long as the account remains in credit. Also, check what charges you might incur if you stray outside agreed limits without prior agreement. 
  • Student Advisors: Many banks offer access to a banking advisor who will give advice on how best to manage your finances. 
  • Additional Services: Some accounts will offer services such as commission-free travellers cheques, discounted insurance and preferential personal loans. 
  • Branch Location: Having a branch near to you can be very useful when you're a busy student. You just can’t afford to pay 1.50-3.00 per transaction at ATM’s.  Some banks have branches on campus and this may be the best option if you want easy branch access.  
  • Incentives: If, after deciding what features are important to you, you've narrowed your choice down to a small number of banks, consider the incentives they offer.  

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