06/20/2014 06:49 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2014

Why Graduates Should Reconsider Their Bank

Graduation is a turning point personally, socially and professionally. While those changes may take months or years to fully develop, getting your degree sets you on the beginnings of a new path.

You can add banking to the list of things that should be different going forward. Once you graduate, your banking needs may change. As a result, it may be time to graduate to a new bank. Here are six reasons why:

  1. You may need a new no-fee checking account. As free checking accounts have become more scarce, a popular option remains checking accounts that charge no fees for students. Once you graduate though, you may no longer be eligible for these accounts. Free checking accounts for non-students have not completely disappeared though, especially if you look at online banks, so make sure you shop around to avoid these fees.
  2. Savings account rates are now a factor. In college, students struggle to keep enough in checking to finance the next pizza, so accumulating savings is not part of the financial picture. Once you start working though, you should start putting aside some savings. This means that savings account interest rates should be a factor in your choice of banks. In general, bank rates are quite low right now, but be advised that they vary widely from one bank to another. Use online resources to find a relatively high-yield savings or money market account.
  3. Your ATM needs may be different. Banks usually charge extra when you use an ATM outside of their network, and when you leave college and get a job, you may find yourself living in a different area. An ATM network that fit your prior travel patterns may not be so convenient anymore. You should look for a bank with ATM locations that suit your new habits, so you don't rack up a mountain of extra fees.
  4. You may be ready to enjoy new technologies. You may have piggy-backed on your parents' banking relationship in order to avoid fees, and there is definitely a generational difference in how high a priority people put on mobile apps. Now that you are free to choose your own bank, you can look for the technological capabilities that will make your banking easier.
  5. For better or worse, you may have a credit history by now. Student credit cards are priced on the premise that the customer has little or no credit history. If you have had a card for a few years, your credit history may be starting to affect the rate you are charged. This may help you or hurt you, but in either case now is a good time to shop around for a better rate.
  6. It is time to take the long view. Your focus can now extend past graduation to the long term. Building a career, saving for your next car, saving for a house and even saving for retirement are all goals that should be on your radar screen. You need a bank with a combination of services that can help you toward those goals.
Congratulations on your graduation from college. It is an achievement that generally takes smarts, diligence and perseverance. You will have to draw on those same resources to help your finances graduate to their own new, post-academic phase.