Stopping at your local bank and opening up a checking account isn’t what it used to be. Back in the day, your parents and grandparents could just open an account in their small town and keep their bank for years to come.
However, there is so much more that goes into choosing a checking account these days. You want your checking account to fit your lifestyle not you trying to fit in with your bank. So, instead of picking any random bank, here is what you need to look for when you apply for a checking account:
#1 Monthly Fees
Many banks charge a monthly fee. This fee is the fee you pay the bank for them lettin you use your bank account.
It is in your best interest to find a bank that doesn’t charge monthly fees, or a way to avoid the monthly fees.
Some banks will give you incentives to avoid these fees by setting up other accounts such as savings accounts or having direct deposits.
You will want to find out what monthly fees the bank has and how you can avoid them. Money not paid is money saved!
#2 Minimum Balance
Some banks will also charge you a fee if you don’t have a minimum balance in there at all times. These kinds of accounts are great if you have a lot of money. However, most of society cannot keep $500 to $10,000 in their accounts at all times.
You will want to choose a bank that does not have a minimum balance requirement as this will save you more money in the long run. If you like all other aspects of your bank, be sure you have money set aside that you don’t count in the total you have in the bank.
#3 Your Access to ATMs
This is crucial. If you go with a bank that you love, but when you go to the next town over, and they have no ATMs, this can cost you. Many banks have lots of ATMs in your city, but the second you travel anywhere, you may not be able to find one.
When choosing a bank, it is important to do a little research. Is the bank located in other cities around your area? Can you find your bank in other states? What about other countries?
Ultimately, if you don’t leave your hometown, this won’t be an issue for you, but if you tend to travel, you will want to make sure you can find an ATM wherever you are.
#4 Limits on Transactions
Some banks have limits on the number of transactions you can make in a single day. In fact, some banks will charge you a fee if you go over those limits.
So, if you have a limit of 10 transactions a day, you could easily rack up fees running errands for a day. Be sure to ask the bank you are talking to if they have a limit on the number of transactions you can do per day.
It is also important to find out if you have a limit on the amount of money you can withdraw from the ATM in one day. Most banks have a $300-$400 daily limit, so if you need more money per day, you will need to find a bank that offers that.
#5 Online Banking
Whether you travel a lot or are kind of a homebody, online banking is great. Online banking allows you to check your balance, transfer money, pay bills, and deposit checks all from your cell.
Online banking is great for busy people who don’t have time to stop by the bank everyday. It is also a great way to keep track of your balance every minute of the day if you want to.
If this sounds like something you need, you will want to ask the bank if they have online banking available.
#6 Overdraft Protection
Did you know overdraft fees are some of the biggest fees that hit account holders? Sometimes we forget something is coming out, or we just overspend. Either way, these fees can rack up a fortune. Even if you overspend by $1, you are looking at a $35 fee or more.
If you are living paycheck to paycheck like most, you will want to ask your bank about overdraft protection. Overdraft protection typically takes money from a savings account or credit card for a smaller fee than the overdraft fee.
#7 Additional Accounts
Another thing to look for when you apply for a checking account is banks that offer you other types of accounts. Most banks will have savings accounts that you can link to your checking account, but you can also find banks with credit card accounts, sub accounts, and so much more.
Be sure to look into your options before choosing a bank. You want a bank that you can stick with for the long haul. So, keep your options open and pick the one that fits your lifestyle.
Where do you bank and why? Share your experiences in the comments below!