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The best student bank accounts

By Staff Writer

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As a student you may not have a lot of money to spend, and depending on the bank account that you have, account fees may eat away at your money. The big four banks in South Africa, Absa Nedbank, First National Bank (FNB), and Standard Bank, offer student accounts. Justmoney compares these account offerings and investigates what the pros and cons of these accounts are.

 “There are many different types of bank accounts, and if you don’t know what yours is, or what it allows you to do , what it will cost you and how you can benefit from it, this should be the first thing that you find out. How you transact is directly linked to the bank account and pricing option you should have,” explains Jo-Ann Du Plessis, head of product and pricing at FNB Value Banking Solutions.
 
FNB Student Account
 
Du Plessis reveals that the bank’s student account is designed for full-time students that meet the below criteria:

  • Are between 18 and 25 years old.
  • Are studying at a recognised tertiary educational institution.
  • Are studying towards a degree or diploma (minimum duration 3 years).
  • Do not have permanent employment.

 
The account is available to both local and foreign students. Du Plessis notes that a valid study permit or temporary residence permit is required when applying.
 
There are two pricing options for this account. There is the Unlimited Option, which has a monthly fee of R24.50 per month, or there is the ‘Pay as you Use’ option, which has a monthly fee of R6 plus the charges for any transactions that you carry out with the account. For this option, the R6 monthly fee is rebated if there is more than R500 in the account at all times.
 
The unlimited option provides the account holder with unlimited electronic transactions, in addition to four free FNB ATM cash withdrawals per month. Both account options include unlimited card swipes and cash withdrawals at till points.
 
Du Plessis highlights that as an alternative, the FNB Easy Account is another option for a student. She explains: “For a low monthly fee of R4.95, the FNB Easy Account includes free, unlimited card purchases, free cash withdrawals at till-point, free subscriptions to FNB’s channels including Online, Cellphone Banking and the FNB Banking app, free inContact (FNB’s SMS and email notification service), free stop orders and free debit orders to another account, and balance enquiries on any of FNB’s electronic channels are free of charge.
 
“In addition, FNB Easy Account offers a free linked savings account which pays up to 5.1% interest depending on the balance in the account and the option to ‘Bank your change’.”
 
Nedbank Youth Accounts
 
Poovi Pillay, head of segment at Nedbank, notes that there are two youth account offerings from Nedbank. The Nedbank 4 Me account is designed for students who are still in school, aged between 0 and 18 years of age. The Dezign Student Account is for full time students aged between 16 and 26.
 
Pillay explains: “A Nedbank4me account is tailored for kids aged 0 to 18 years old and offers a secure method to transact and save from, at market related interest rates. This is the first step in a child's banking education and financial management. This account is also a transactional account and the funds are accessible immediately.
 
“The Dezign Student Account is designed to cater for the banking needs of a full time student between the ages of 16 and 26. This product offers a day-to-day current account with an affordable fixed fee and a range of free transactions for a student lifestyle.”
 
For both accounts, a minimum opening balance of R20 is required. The Nedbank 4 Me account does not have a monthly service fee, however, to have the internet banking service for the account, there is a fee of R4.00. The Dezign Student Account has a monthly fee of R18.00, however, internet banking is free. For both accounts a fee of R6 per SMS is charged for a no funds alert.
 
To open either account you need to be within the qualifying age bracket (see above), and need proof of identity and residence. For the Dezign Student Account you will also require proof of tertiary institution registration, revealed Pillay.
 
Standard Bank student accounts
 
Standard Bank offers two student accounts. There is the (sum)1 and Student Achiever accounts.
 
The Standard Bank (sum)1 account is available to school students under the age of 16. There is no monthly service fee, however, there is a pay-as-you-use structure where you pay for any additional transactions that you do outside of the free product offering.
 
The (sum)1 account offers the following for free:

  • Two Standard Bank ATM cash withdrawals.
  • Eight free electronic debit transactions, excluding debit orders, after which you pay per transaction.
  • Two ATM cash deposits.
  • SMS or email notifications.
  • Unlimited electronic balance enquiries when using *120*2345#.
  • Unlimited inter-account transfers to any Standard Bank savings and investment account.
  • Unlimited swipes at retail stores.
  • Internet and cell phone banking subscriptions.

 
The Student Achiever account is available for students between the ages of 16 and 23. As with the (sum)1 account, there is no management fee and you receive a number of free transactions per month, after which you pay per transaction.
 
The free monthly offering includes:

  • Two Standard Bank ATM cash withdrawals.
  • Eight free electronic debit transactions, excluding debit orders, after which you pay per transaction.
  • Two ATM cash deposits.
  • SMS or email notifications.
  • Unlimited electronic balance enquiries when using *120*2345#.
  • Unlimited inter-account transfers to any Standard Bank savings and investment account.
  • Unlimited swipes at retail stores.
  • Internet and cell phone banking subscriptions.

 
Absa Youth Accounts
 
Absa offers three different student account. There is the Silver Student Account, the Mega U account, and the Islamic Youth Account.
 
The Silver Student Account is available for full time, registered students under the age of 27 years. In order to apply for the account you need:
 

  • A valid ID.
  • Proof of residence.
  • Proof of tertiary institution registration.

 
This account is only available “to full-time students studying towards an undergraduate or postgraduate degree or diploma, or qualifications of one year or more,” explained the Absa website.
 
The account has a monthly service fee of R17.50. Included in the fee are the following transactions:

  • Absa ATM cash withdrawals
  • Two Absa ATM cash deposits,
  • Absa ATM balance enquiries and ministatements,
  • CashSend at an Absa ATM,
  • Electronic funds transfers,
  • Account payments,
  • Point-of-sale purchases and cash withdrawals (local), and
  • Debit orders and stop orders.

 
If, or when, you ever upgrade your account because you stop studying or start a full time job, you can keep your account number.
 
The Absa Mega U account is for students and children under the age of 18. This account has no monthly service fee, however, there are ‘pay-as-you-transact’ costs that may be applicable. Local point-of-sale purchases are free, as is internet banking. However, you are charged for each cash withdrawal that you make, as well as for cash deposits, whether these be at the ATM or at the bank branch counter. (For more information on the fees that banks charge children, click here)
 
The Islamic Youth Account from Absa is a Shari'ah compliant banking option for Islamic youth under the age of 18. This account also has no monthly management fee, with its fee structure operating much the same way as the Mega U account.
 
For both the Islamic Youth and the Mega U account you need a valid identity document, either a birth certificate or ID book, as well as proof of residence to apply.
 
Which account offers the best for less?
 
There are a number of different student bank account offerings, ensuring that at least one of the big four banks should have a product which will meet any student’s needs.
 
From the above it would appear that the Standard Bank accounts, both the (sum)1 and Student Achiever accounts are the best value for money as there is no monthly management fee. While some of the other banks also offer accounts with no management fee, the Standard Bank accounts offer the most benefits or features with the account at no extra cost, while except for internet banking and card purchases, the other accounts appear to charge for all other transactions. With the Standard Bank accounts, students get two free cash withdrawals at a Standard Bank ATM, and two free ATM deposits.
 
When deciding which bank account to go with, it is important to shop around and see who offers you the best deal for your requirements. If you are not going to withdraw cash at an ATM and only want internet banking and card swipes, then an account that includes these in the monthly service fee would be required, such as the Absa Silver Student Account. If you are going to use your card to make a lot of transactions and withdraw cash regularly, then a bundled account option, such as the FNB Student Account unlimited option.
 
Remember, if you are unhappy with the account that you have, you can always change accounts or change banks.
 
*All prices accurate at time of publication

Handy Tip: If you are worried about paying too much in bank charges you can compare bank accounts and how much they cost on Justmoney, by clicking here.

 


 

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