A Student's Guide to Banking

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As an 18-to-25-year-old choosing the right people to keep your cash can be a daunting task. Our quick guide aims to make it a lot easier to find the cheapest student account available at a few of South Africa's banks.

We looked at the basic current account packages offered to students by South Africa's Big Four banks (Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank) and the smaller and newer Capitec Bank. The student solutions are as follows:

- Absa - Student Silver Current Account,

- Capitec - Global One,

- FNB - Life Start Student Account,

- Nedbank - Dezign Student Current Account,

- Standard Bank - Student Achiever Account.

The monthly fee:

Leading the pack is Standard Bank with no monthly fee followed by Capitec with R4.50, Absa charges R16.00, Nedbank costs R16.50 and FNB is the most expensive at R22.30.

Withdrawal fees:

How much does it cost to get cash out of the banks? Transaction fees vary from bank to bank. For example expect to be charged one fee to use your own bank's ATMs and a different fee (usually higher) to use another bank's ATMs.

In terms of own-bank ATM withdrawals the cheapest are FNB, Nedbank and Absa which are all free, Capitec charges R4.00. Standard Bank is a little more complicated: the first five are free, then between 6 and 15 transactions they charge R20.00, and more than that costs another R20.00.

Other-bank withdrawal fees: Sometimes it's difficult to find an ATM that belongs to or is supported by your own bank, this usually means you have to withdraw using another bank's ATM. FNB is the cheapest in this regard with a charge of R6.50 and an additional R6.00 per R500 (or 1.2% of the amount, with a maximum fee of R24.00). Capitec is the next cheapest at a fixed rate of R7.00. However if you chose the Standard Bank option the fixed charge is only R6.70 but the additional charges that come with the scaled ATM cash withdrawal charges (as above) kick in. Nedbank charges R9.50 for your disloyalty with an additional 1.2% of the total withdrawn. Absa seems to take the cake when it comes to using non-Absa ATMs. When using an SA-Switch ATM they charge R9.85 and 1.1% but when using an Absa supported ATM they charge R6.85 and 1.1% of the total withdrawal. That's not the end of the story. When using an Absa supported ATM there's a convenience fee of R3.00 and when using an SA-Switch ATM it's R6.00.

International charges:

As a spritely young adult you might find yourself abroad and quite possibly needing to get cash at some stage. One source of bank charges comes from drawing cash from an international ATM. If this is a likely scenario for you Nedbank is the cheapest at R28.00 plus 1.2% of the amount drawn, followed by Capitec which takes R35.00, FNB charges R28.00 and Absa costs R45.00.

Mobile apps:

Part of being a student is that you seldom have much time to do trivial things such as pay bills. This means that students need a way of doing banking on the go. That's where banking apps and online and mobile banking come in handy. All five of the banks have cellphone banking but what sets them apart are their app services. FNB and Standard Bank have already got apps which are both available for Android, iPhone and Blackberry devices but FNB's is also available for Nokia Symbian devices. Nedbank have launched their app suite to their staff, a promising sign that it could soon be available to the public. Absa has an app that allows users to open accounts remotely using Android based devices but Capitec hasn't quite got there yet.

In the end cost is only one part of deciding which bank is best for keeping your money safe. This guide is only the tip of the iceberg but it should give you some idea of what type of service you need. Feel free to comment on this below. We love hearing from you.

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