7 Best savings accounts for recent college graduates - Roost
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7 Best savings accounts for recent college graduates

Start saving money early with these savings accounts

Graduating from college is a great accomplishment, so first of all, congratulations! Second, take a deep breath, because you’ve got a lot to do! If you’re looking for ways to save a couple of bucks here and there each month, then choosing the right savings account can go a long way toward helping you have a little financial stability in an unpredictable world. We’ve done some legwork for you. 

Roost Criteria: We looked at dozens of banks and compiled our top 7 favorites based on no/low fees and a great mobile app experience.

Banking productWhat we like about it
File:Ally Financial.svg - Wikimedia Commons No monthly fees
No minimum balance required
Set up recurring transfers easily
Robust app with set up boosters and recommendations
1.00% APY
Learn more
chime-logo ~ Breaking Money Silence No monthly fees
No minimum deposit to open
Minimum balance of 1 cent!
App offers real-time alerts for all transactions
Automatic savings feature
1.00% APY
Learn more
File:Discover Card logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons No monthly fees
No minimum to open
No insufficient funds fee
Manage account and set up notifications from the mobile app
1.01% APY
Learn more
DCU Green Logo - Heroes Cup Hockey No monthly fees
$5 to open
$5 min balance to maintain membership status
Mobile app makes it easy to check balance and transfer funds
As high as 6.17% APY on first $1,000
Learn more
File:Cit-logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons No monthly fees
$100 minimum to open account
6 transactions per cycle
Remote check deposits from mobile app
Up to 0.75% APY
Learn more
File:HSBC.svg - Wikimedia Commons No monthly fees
$1 minimum to open the account
Mobile check deposit
View statements and make transfers with mobile app
0.70% APY
Learn more
Simple | Online Banking With Built-In Budgeting & Saving Tools No monthly fees
No minimum balance
Mobile check deposit through app
Built-in savings goals help you build your savings
1.00% APY
Learn more

What should I look for in a savings account?

There are a few things you should look for when choosing a savings account:

  • No minimum balance. This is key, since there are many accounts out there that do have a minimum balance. If your balance dips below the minimum, you’ll be hit with a fee, which can recur over and over if your balance stays low. As a new college graduate, it may take you a while to build up your savings and you may find that you have to dip into your account from time to time, so you don’t want to have to worry about a minimum balance.
  • Number of transactions per month. You’ll also want to see if there’s a maximum number of transactions you can make per month, especially if you think you’ll need to dip into it from time to time. 
  • A robust mobile app. Your parents and grandparents may love taking a trip down to the bank, but you’re busy working multiple jobs and making time for your friends. A good mobile app will allow you to deposit checks remotely, transfer funds instantly, check your balance easily, and set up alerts so you’ll know what’s happening with your money.
  • APY. Finally, you’ll want to see what the interest rate (or annual percentage yield (APY)) for the account is. The higher the APY, the more your account will grow per year. This is less of a factor for recent college graduates, as you likely won’t have a ton of money in your account, so you should prioritize this less than the other factors.

What kind of bank do I want?

There are several different types of banks you might consider. These range from the massive “big banks” to some new banking entities that are carving out their own niche in the financial space. As usual, there are pros and cons for each type of institution. For example:

  • Banking applications: New companies in the banking space, like Chime, Simple, or CIT, can be a lot more innovative than traditional banks but may lack the additional products and in-branch service of big-banks. 
  • Big bank: There are several massive banks out there that offer savings accounts, such as Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. These banks can be good places to park your money because they are firmly established, with a large geographical presence and a long history behind them. 
  • Local bank or credit union: A nice compromise between the two extremes. Small banks may be more agile or technologically innovative than large banks, but they may not have the same reach as large institutions.

Take a look at your individual needs and keep your mind open. Find out which plan is right for you based on all the factors you consider important. Try not to eliminate an option until you’ve learned more about it!

Frequently asked questions

1. What about my student savings account?

A lot of banks in college towns offer special accounts for students. They may have different requirements and different features from non-student accounts. But one thing they have in common is that they don’t last forever. Some banks will offer to roll over your money to a standard account when you graduate, but some won’t. Find out your bank’s policy and be proactive with your money. Graduation is a busy time, but remember to move your money before you move on!

2. Should I stay with the bank I had in school?

It may be tempting to stick with what you know. Or maybe you think that you want to change your bank while you change your location and your career. This decision is an important one, so you’ll want to think about it carefully.

First, take a closer look at the pros and cons of your college bank. Why did you choose it in the first place? Did you pick it because it was familiar? Did you pick it because it was easy (maybe they just rolled your account over from a student account to a non-student one and you just let it ride)? We’re here to tell you that these are not the right reasons to pick a bank. After you do your research, you may find out that it’s the right bank for you… but you may not.

3. Should I go with the bank my parents use?

This is another common fallback for many college graduates. Picking a bank can be hard (We know! That’s why we’re doing our best to make it easier for you!) and sometimes, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused, going with something that’s familiar can seem like a smart decision. But you want to be careful here. What’s right for your parents may not be right for you. If you’re interested in your parents’ bank — or if they’re advising you to follow in their footsteps —  then you should do your due diligence on their bank.

Choosing the right savings account for you

A 2014 study from The New York Fed indicates that recent college graduates face unemployment and underemployment at a rate significantly higher than older college grads. In the years since that study, things have only gotten worse for recent college grads, so you may yourself needing to pinch pennies. We get it. There are a lot of options available to you when it comes to choosing a savings account. You have different options in terms of banking institutions and accounts, and it can seem overwhelming at first. But, if you take your time and look at the different options available, you can determine the account that’s the best fit for your needs. As a recent college graduate, money may be tight for you, so making wise decisions can go a long way toward giving you financial security!

Roost is a community for renters, not a direct lender! But because we share some info about loans, we need to include this fine print: Annual Percentage Rates (APR), loan term and monthly payments are estimated based on analysis of information provided by you, data provided by lenders, and publicly available information. All loan information is presented without warranty, and the estimated APR and other terms are not binding in any way. Lenders provide loans with a range of APRs depending on borrowers’ credit and other factors. Your actual APR will depend on factors like credit score, requested loan amount, loan term, and credit history. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Done!
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Last Updated: November 28th, 2020