MADISON, Wis. (12/2/09)--Credit unions offer the best deals and rates for checking accounts and credit cards for college students, according to a Forbes columnist. “By best, we mean products that charge the lowest fees and require the smallest minimum balances,” wrote David K. Randall in a Monday column titled, “Five Best Choices for College Students.” When it comes to picking a checking account, the best solution may be for college students to find a credit union, Randall wrote. “Some 600 college campuses offer access to these member-owned nonprofit institutions,” Randall wrote. “Credit unions operate like banks but return profits to members in the form of lower fees and better loan rates. Students at New York University, for example, can open free checking accounts at the New York University FCU. Members receive free checks, are not charged for using other institutions’ ATMs and are not required to deposit a minimum amount or maintain a certain balance. “JPMorgan Chase, meanwhile, will charge you $2 to use another bank's ATM and requires $25 to open an account,” he added. “Some credit unions will even waive overdraft fees if a student agrees to attend a financial education seminar.” When looking for a credit card account with low interest rates, credit unions also are the best choice, Randall wrote, citing a Pew Charitable Trust study. “Banks charge customers interest rates that, on average, are 20% higher than credit unions' as well as heftier late-payment fees,” he added. To read the column, use the link.