How to Get a Bank Account and a Credit Card

How to Get a Bank Account and a Credit Card


September 1, 2019

Checking Accounts

If you don’t already have a checking account, you will probably need one after graduation from high school. Here are some things to consider:

Type of institution – bank or credit union?

Banks: usually there are more banks in any neighborhood than there are credit unions. Some common banks in this area are:

Oregon Pacific


U.S. Bank,

Washington Federal, and


These banks (and others) will have branches in other towns and cities, so for convenience you may want to select one of them. However, many bank checking accounts have various fees: monthly fees, fees per check written, minimum balance fees, etc.

Credit Unions: While there are fewer branches of most credit unions, they have the advantage of (typically) not charging fees. They operate as “membership” organizations so by signing up you become a member. Most of the services provided by banks (checking and savings accounts, debit cards, loans, safe deposit boxes, etc.) are available at credit unions. In Florence, there is just one: First Community Credit Union. However, there are others around the state including:

MAPS Credit Union

Oregon Community Credit Union

Oregon State Credit Union

SELCO Community Credit Union

Considerations when choosing a bank or credit union:

· Is there a branch near where you will be living?

· What are the fees?

· Can you use your debit card at other locations?

· Is there overdraft protection (what happens if you overdraw your account)?

· Are there any minimums for monthly account balance, number of checks written, etc.

· Will the location be convenient for a parent other relative who may be making deposits to your account?

· Will it be convenient after you graduate from college? (Of course, it’s not hard to change banks later if you need to).

Savings Accounts

If you will be setting aside money from earnings or scholarships to be accessed at a later date, you may want a savings account. Usually you can set one up that is connected to your checking account. The interest rates are typically quite low, but anything is better than nothing. You may want to compare rates between banks and credit unions, but be sure not to “lock in” your funds (to get a higher interest rate) if you will be needing access to the money.

Credit Cards

It is a good idea to establish good credit early in life, and maintain a good credit rating throughout your life. You never know when you may need a loan… car, house, emergency, etc. A great way to establish credit is to obtain a credit card. CAUTION: many people get into trouble with credit cards by charging too much and then having to pay high monthly interest charges while not having the money to pay off the debt. ADVICE: don’t charge more than you can afford, and PAY OFF THE BALANCE ON YOUR CREDIT CARD EVERY MONTH! If you miss a payment deadline, you may be charged a very high rate of interest as well as a penalty fee for being late. Also, missing deadlines will hurt your credit rating!

Once you have selected a bank or credit union, ask about getting a credit card. You may be able to get a good deal through the place where you have your checking account. You may also apply on your own for a credit card. Here are a few credit cards that are designed for students:

Discover Student Cash Back card. You’ll get an annual reward of $20 for good grades, cash back of 1% or 5% on certain charges (this amounts to a small discount on those purchases) and no annual fee.

Discover Student Chrome card. Quite similar to the Discover Student Cash Back card.

Deserve Edu credit card. No credit history needed. 1% cash back on all purchases, free Amazon Prime membership for one year, no annual fee.

Other credit cards for students:

Capital One Journey Student Rewards credit card

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card for students

Citi Rewards student card

You may wish to look these up online, but NerdWallet gives the highest ratings to the two Discover cards and the Deserve card described above.

NOTE: you may have to supply proof that you are employed in order to get a credit card. If you are not able to do that (either you don’t have a job, or your job is only for a few hours a week) then you may need to make a deposit (usually $300 to $500) that will be kept for a period of time (probably 1 year) by the credit card company, or you may need to have someone else cosign on the account with you.

Another caution: If you have a credit or debit card, make sure you know what to do if your card is lost or stolen. Suggestion: make a photocopy of your card (front and back) and keep the copy in a very safe place (or have a trusted friend or family member keep it for you). If the card is lost or stolen, immediately look at your photocopy and call the telephone number on the back of the card to report the problem. Your card will be de-activated (cancelled) and you will be issued a new card. Report the loss or theft and you probably won’t be responsible for any unauthorized charges.