Smart Reviews

Choosing a New Checking Account

On the market for a new checking account? While most people view checking accounts as routine, they’re actually quite important. To open a checking account is to basically become a member of a financial institution, which can open doors for other valuable goods and services. Some checking accounts charge fees or bear interest, while others do not. Some require minimum balances. Each account might be accessible with more ATMs or better mobile apps. In summary, don’t rush into opening a new checking account without first doing some research. Here, we’ll review some important considerations when searching for a new checking account.

The first thing you need to decide is what type of institution you wish to keep your money in; a credit union, traditional bank, or even an internet-based bank with no physical locations in town. Credit unions often will only have a couple locations, but they will be in your area. They are established for groups of customers with something in common, like a place of employment or career path. They run on a not-for-profit basis and instead return money to their depositors in the form of higher interest and lower fees. A traditional bank will have locations across the region or nation, charge higher fees, but offer more services and conveniences for their wealthiest customers. Internet banks are becoming popular for the younger generation who use their computers for most everything. Internet banks rival credit union for their low or complete lack of banking fees.

No matter which type of bank you select for your checking account, you will want easy access to your cash. Make sure to check out how many free ATM locations are nearby, if you will be offered a free debit card or even credit card, and if you can pay bills through an online portal. Make careful note of any fees the bank may charge. If there is an ATM on every corner, but you are charged $3 to make a deposit, your costs can add up. Look for a bank that promotes free ATMs, free online access, and low flat fees without minimum requirements.

Fees are often the deciding factor when choosing a checking account. Local banks that are just becoming established in your neighborhood may have a very low fee structure. Massive international banks can charge for just about everything including writing a check, making a deposit, checking your balance, or even opening a savings account. You may be required to maintain a minimum balance in your checking account in order to avoid those fees, and if you allow that balance to dip down too far there may even be additional penalties. If you have a regular job, all fees may be waived if you set up a direct deposit for your paycheck, which can be an excellent means to getting the most services for the lowest price.

In the end, simplicity will be your friend. Decide where you want to be able to reach your money, whether through an ATM, an actual bank location, or always online. Next, find the financial institution that provides a checking account with no or very few fees and no minimum balance. Ask about extra perks such as online bill payments, credit cards, and debit cards. If fees are waived when you link a savings account to the checking account, take them up on the offer and start a regular savings plan. Ultimately, you will want to keep one thing in mind: It is your money. Try not to pay your piggy bank for the privilege of earning it.