If you have a college student, chances are you’re familiar with a frantic phone call due to a dwindling bank account. Or perhaps you allocate a certain amount of spending money each month to your child and are looking for the best way to get those funds safely in the hands of your college student.
We explore the best ways to send your college student money, the costs, and the pros and cons of each.
Student Bank Accounts
In this case, you’ll need to have access to your student’s bank account and have linked accounts at the same bank so you can transfer money seamlessly from your account into theirs.
Usually, in-bank transfers are free, but it can take up to three days for the money to clear, so keep this in mind when transferring money to your child.
When setting up a bank account for your college student, be sure to choose a no-fee, no minimum account, like Capital One 360’s MONEY account, which is intended for teens and allows for parental access. If you’d like a college-specific account, Chase Bank’s College Checking account is another solid choice. They offer no fees for five years for college students.
If you’re looking for something more immediate—and you’re a bit more tech-savvy—try money-sending apps like PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle. Another bonus of this technique is that you don’t have to share a bank, let alone a bank account, with your kid.
PayPal allows you to electronically send money to your child via email, as long as they have a PayPal account associated with that email address. Transfers are free within the U.S., and it usually takes a few days when sending money from a bank account.
Venmo, which is owned by PayPal, is another handy and free way to send your funds along. Another bonus? College students commonly use it, so chances are, your child has used it. Venmo works similarly to PayPal, except you link your debit or credit card within the app, then send money there. Funds are usually available the next business day. Be aware: Venmo charges a 3% fee on all credit card transactions.
Not quick enough? Try Zelle, a money-transferring app that promises that funds sent are available within minutes. It’s also free. Talk about instant gratification.
Debit Cards and Credit Cards
While your child likely already has a debit card and checking account, there are some other options when it comes to debit cards. First, you could send your child prepaid debit cards. The pre-loaded cards give them money, but ensure they can’t overspend. However, some prepaid debit cards do charge a fee.
Your child’s college also may have a school-sanctioned debit card onto which you can load funds for them to spend at the cafeteria, out to lunch and yes, even at the bar.
Be cautious of credit cards specifically for college students. In many cases, these APRs are high and the card practices predatory. Plus, college students may lack the impulse control it takes not to overspend and accumulate debt.
However, if you have a financially responsible college student, you may consider giving them a credit card for emergencies only. But keep close tabs on that card, and make sure it’s not being used for non-emergency spending. Additionally, be sure you have the funds to pay off any emergencies that may pop up.
Encourage Financial Responsibility
While college students are still learning how to be financially responsible, teaching them how to create and stick to a monthly budget may avoid some of those instances in which you have to send them money frantically.
Help them create an easy budget with line items for their expenses, such as food, going out with friends, buying clothing, or paying club or Greek life dues. Then, help them allocate their funds each month to each category.
You can also encourage your kids to get an on-campus job, which can help them practice financial responsibility. After all, they may become more mindful of what they spend if they are earning money themselves.
Even if they do have a job, you still may have to help your college student out financially, and that’s OK. Learning how to manage money and live on a budget is a work in progress.