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Educational Consumer Tips

Choosing a Bank

Author: Rachel Gelb
Category: Finance

Choosing a bank that fits all of your specific needs can be an overwhelming task. Before searching for a bank, decide which features are important to you. This will allow you to better evaluate and compare banks throughout the process. Use the following tips as a guide when choosing a bank.

Tips for Choosing a Bank:

Shop Around.  Ask friends and family members for recommendations. Ask what they find positive and negative about their banks. Be sure to choose a bank that is FDIC insured. Check out reliable banks through to read reviews and complaints. Do not allow a large incentive for signing up to persuade your decision.

Think About Location.  Once you have narrowed your choices down to a smaller list, visit the banks you are contemplating. If in-person banking is one of your desired features, make sure the bank has locations close to where you live, work, and other places you often visit. Look for a bank that has hours of operation that will work with your schedule. If you wish to do the majority of your banking online, ask if it will be easy to navigate paying bills, checking balances, and transferring money through their online banking website.

Inquire About a Checking Account.  Since many people use checking accounts to take out cash and make everyday purchases with their debit cards, ask if the bank offers a free checking account. If they do, be sure to ask about the restrictions that are attached to the free account. Ask about the minimum balance the checking account must carry. If the minimum balance is high, ask if the bank will allow you to combine your checking and savings account to meet the balance. If you write a lot of checks, ask about the number of free checks you receive before being charged a fee. Understand all fees of the checking account if you do not meet the requirements.

Be Informed About Fees.  Make sure to create a list of all the fees you will be charged for each bank so you will be able to easily compare them. Be sure to include the fees you will be charged for participating in certain actions such as ATM usage, bounced checks, and transferring money. Usually using your own bank’s ATM is free, but find out the fee for using another bank’s ATM. If the fee is high, make sure there are plenty of the bank’s ATMs that are conveniently located for you, or look into a bank that charges a lower fee for ATM usage. Find out if the bank charges a fee if you do not receive your paycheck through direct deposit.

About the Author: Rachel Gelb is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

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