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SunTrust hikes student checking fees

By David McMillin ·
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

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?

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August 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I closed my SunTrust account the other day because of the upcoming changes. I can avoid the maintenance but not the $5 debit card fee. I only kept them open because of the conveniently located branches. I have been using my credit union for almost 2 years and I haven't had any problems with them. My life was made simpler when they partnered with AllPoint for free atm withdrawals.

I still have a SunTrust credit card with favorable terms, and I have no plans to close it.

August 18, 2011 at 8:50 am

It's not just the Durbin act that brought this on, but the Dodds-Frank as well.

Just find a credit union or any place that doesn't have fees.

It's not hard to do with a simple search.

August 17, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I think the recently enacted Durbin Amendment sucks and needs to be repealed, my checking acct at usaa was the best, i got cash back for using the debit card as credit, free no monthly maitnece and free checks, free atms, and now thanks to Durbin I dont get cash back anymore for using the card as credit. How can we repeal Durbin?!?!?!

August 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I plan to just stick with my credit union account and let the Suntrust account go. I don't appreciate having to pay to use or have access to my own money.