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One of the first steps that most of us take in our financial journey is to open a savings account at a bank, followed shortly thereafter in most cases by a checking account at the same bank. These moments may seem humdrum compared to other moments in our lives, but the truth is that they are monumental: Opening a savings account empowers us to begin saving money, and opening a checking account gives us a way to spend that money.
And yet, if you were to ask most people how they chose which bank to open their first savings account or checking account at, their answer will most likely be something along the lines of: “It was my parent’s bank,” or “They had a booth during my college orientation,” or “They made it the easiest.”
I want to level with you: Opening any savings account or banking account is a good thing for the simple reason that it helps you start building healthy financial habits and taking control of your money. So if the only way that you’re going to open a savings account is by going down to the local branch with your mom, then by all means do that. But it would be a mistake not to discuss the fact that not all banks are created equally. There are many different banks offering many different types of accounts and features, some of which can be incredibly powerful. That’s why you should absolutely be shopping around for the best deal.
One new entrant in the banking space is that college students might want to consider is Mos Bank, which bills itself as “the only bank built for students.”
Below, we take a closer look at what Mos Bank is, what features it offers its customers, how it works, and more so that you can have a better understanding of whether or not it is the right choice for you.
What is Mos?
Mos is an online platform and tool that is designed to help college students get the most financial aid possible. It does this by bringing all 500+ of the different state and federal financial aid programs from around the country into one single application, with the goal of saving students and their parents time by not needing to go searching for different scholarships to apply to.
The free version of Mos offers students aid and guidance in completing their FAFSA application, which can be confusing for some. Of course, Mos does need to make money, and they do that by offering paid tiers for additional services:
- Mos Appeal: This option costs $79. In addition to the error-free FAFSA application support, it includes access to weekly scholarship announcements, a dedicated financial aid advisor, and a written appeal letter designed to get you more financial aid.
- Mos Complete: This option costs $149 and includes everything in Mos Appeal, plus access to financial aid in all 50 states.
- Mos Complete Plus: This option costs $749 and includes everything in Mos Complete, plus unlimited help writing scholarship essays.
If you’re interested in trying Mos, for a limited time you can get Mos Appeal or Mos Complete for free by visiting this page, completing a quick 15-minute survey, and joining Mos’ community on social media.
What is Mos Bank?
You may be wondering: What does a scholarship platform have to do with a bank?
The short is that Mos started out as a scholarship platform, but has since evolved to offer additional services to their customers. Banking is simply their newest service, so I thought it would be a good thing to give you a primer on the rest of the company first!
It is important to note, though, that Mos is not in itself a bank. The bank accounts are offered as a partnership between Mos and their “partner bank.” The exact details of which bank this is are not yet known (since the accounts are not yet launched) but I will update this section once I know more.
While this may seem odd, it’s actually a very common tactic used by other financial apps and brands looking to launch their own bank cards without doing the difficult work of getting a bank charter. The investing app Stash partnered with Green Dot Bank, for example, to launch Stash Banking, and the Acorns investment app partnered with Lincoln Savings Bank to launch Acorns Spend.
When does Mos Bank launch?
As of April 2021, Mos Bank has not yet launched. The accounts are scheduled to launch in the Fall of 2021. In the meantime, anyone interested in opening a Mos Bank account can do so by joining the waitlist here.
Mos Bank Features
Because the accounts are not yet live, it is impossible to know exactly what Mos’ banking experience will look like to the end user. That being said, many of the features that the company specifically lists on its website sound great:
- Physical debit card: At the moment, it seems that customers will receive a physical card in addition to an app of some sort to view your account history and details.
- Zero fees: Mos understands that high school and college students typically don’t have a lot of money to spare, so their bank account is designed to have no account fees. This includes $0 overdraft fees, $0 transaction fees, and $0 minimum account balance.
- Early pay: Many banks require a two-day waiting period between when (non-payroll) money is deposited in your account and when you can actually access it. Examples might include your parents sending you money while you’re at school, or money from a side hustle. Mos does away with this waiting period, letting you access your money as soon as its in your account.
- Up to $100 interest-free loan: Though details are scarce, Mos says that customers who need help making ends meet will be able to borrow up to $100 without needing to pay interest on the loan. They list buying textbooks or needing to repair your car as potential reasons why this might come in handy. More details will definitely be needed to know how you qualify, etc., but at the moment it sounds like it could be helpful to college students in a bind.
- FDIC-insured: Mos’ partner bank is FDIC-insured, which means you never need to worry about losing your money.
- Access to a financial aid advisor: By opening a Mos Bank account, you will automatically gain some of the benefits of a Mos membership. One of those benefits is access to a financial aid advisor who will help you with your FAFSA application and answer other financial aid related questions.
- Access to lower interest student loans: If you find that you need a private student loan to cover the gap not covered by federal student loans and other financial aid, Mos will partner you with lenders. The company says that their customers receive lower interest rates, though exactly what these rates are remain to be seen.
There are bound to be other features in addition to the ones discussed above, but at the moment this is everything that I’ve been able to find. As new features are announced, I will be sure to update this post so that you have as much information as possible.
Because Mos has not yet fully launched its banking features, you cannot actually open an account today. You can, though, sign up for the waitlist, which will notify you once it is live and keep you in the loop as new features are added.
Mos Bank Referral Program
Referral programs have proven to be a popular marketing tactic for financial companies, for a simple reason: They work! And Mos seems to have recognized this fact.
When you sign up for the Mos waitlist, you will receive a confirmation email. Clicking on the link in that email will bring you to a dashboard that includes a referral link that you can share with your friends. Any time someone joins the waitlist using your link, you will receive $5. Your friend will also get $5. There is currently no limit to how many referrals you can earn.
Any money you earn through the referral bonus will be deposited into your Mos account once it launches in the Fall.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, if you are a college student looking for a bank that aligns with your unique needs, then Mos’ banking feature could be a good option for you. Access to a financial aid advisor, lower interest rate student loans, and other features make this sound promising.
Of course, as the program is not yet launched, I cannot give you my full review or recommendation. But what I can tell you is that I’ve joined the waitlist, and will be opening my account as soon as I am able to. I will update this article as more information becomes available. If you’re interested, I’d say to just join the waitlist. Then, as more details become available in the coming months, you can make a final decision.