Whether you’re looking for a checking account, savings account, a combination of the two or some other type of personal banking product, such as a certificate of deposit or line of credit, your choice of bank will really make a difference. Many banks are currently offering competitive promotions to lure customers, such as $ 50-$ 150 for opening a new checking and/or savings account, cash-back earnings for direct deposit customers and free services such as checking and online bill pay. Some banks are even offering gifts such as iPads and Kindles to new customers. While these incentives are nice, and may help if you are choosing between a couple banks that seem comparable otherwise, they should not be the main factor in your decision. To make the right choice, consider some of the factors below:
Do Your Homework – Make sure to shop around and compare the services, fees, conveniences and special perks of several different banks in your area and/or online. This will give you an idea of what the norms are so you can confidently choose the bank that is best for your unique wants and needs.
Check for FDIC Insurance – Never open an account with a bank that isn’t FDIC insured. The FDIC regulates the nation’s financial institutions, ensures that they are reputable and responsible, and insures deposits into checking accounts, saving accounts and certificates of deposit for as much as $ 250,000.
Convenience is Key – Some banks only exist online; some have a limited number of branches; and others offer numerous branches around the country or the world. Banks may also vary in the number of ATMs that are available, and whether they charge fees for using another bank’s ATM. These are all important convenience issues to consider.
Figure Out the Fees – It’s crucial that you understand exactly what fees a prospective bank will charge, which may include monthly service fees as well as hidden fees for things like checking your balance on another bank’s ATM. As far as the fees for over-drafting your account go, banks must now have customers “opt-in” to allow them to cover overdrafts (for a hefty fee).
Your Unique Needs – Before bank shopping, it’s important to write a list of what is most important to you in a bank. This list may include nearby branch locations, ATMs across the country, direct deposit services, investment opportunities, mortgage loans, student loans, lines of credit or debt consolidation, just to name a few.