When the time arrives to find a new student checking account, the homework may be getting more challenging for parents and their college-bound children.
SunTrust Bank recently informed customers it will begin imposing a $4 monthly maintenance fee for Student Checking account holders who fail to meet one of the following requirements.
- Minimum of one payroll direct deposit per month ($100 or more).
- Minimum $300 daily collected balance in a linked parent's or guardian's personal checking account.
- Minimum $300 daily collected balance in the Student Checking account.
The change will go into effect March 1, 2012. SunTrust's current Student Checking account program has no bank fees.
As if taking care of tuition and room-and-board costs isn't enough, the bank will also charge $5 each month for any account holder who uses his or her debit card for signature-based, PIN point-of-sale or recurring check card transactions. It sounds like avoiding this fee is essentially impossible unless the card is strictly used for ATM withdrawals. Of course, customers can lose there, too. Those ATM withdrawals may be subject to out-of-network charges.
While parents and kids alike will grumble, this kind of move isn't completely unexpected. In the wake of the recently enacted Durbin Amendment, banks have cut debit rewards programs and hiked fees in an effort to prepare for falling revenues.
Right now, it still seems fairly easy to find a checking account for soon-to-be undergrads that doesn't include bank fees, minimum balance requirements and other hurdles. At some of the nation's biggest institutions, simply enrolling in college qualifies an account holder for a free checking account.
However, SunTrust's move may be a sign of what's to come. Perhaps other banks will follow suit and target the nation's undergraduates (and many of the parents who may be the ones paying those fees) to compensate for lost profits.
What do you think? Will the decline of free checking soon make way for the decline of free student checking? Or have you or your college student found an account that doesn't add dollars to that stack of student debt?