Researching What Banks Offer and Finding the Right One For You

Banking is a safe way to store and spend your money. Whether you’re opening your first checking account or switching banks, picking a bank that works towards your specific needs is important. Some of the things you’ll want to consider during your research are convenience, location, and any fees that will be associated with your accounts or cards. It’s also important to assess how you feel about each company. Your gut feeling can be the strongest indicator of what will work for you and what won’t.

Size and Prevalence

Size and prevalence speaks to your travel needs and whether you’ll need access to your money either across the country or internationally. If you’re someone who doesn’t travel often, the prevalence of your branch may not matter. On the other hand, if you’re constantly traveling, you’ll likely want to choose one that has many locations across the states and overseas.

Fees

Banks vary greatly in their fee policies. While some advertise free checking accounts with no monthly fees, others will squeeze small fees out of you any chance they get. By doing thorough research on policies and schedules you can avoid fees that can add up to a considerable sum. Also inquire about savings account policies if you’re planning on opening one.

Legitimacy

Choosing any of the larger branches is generally a safe bet when it comes to choosing between banks. However, if you’re interested in a small company, make sure you check their legitimacy. Use the “bank find” tool on the FDIC’s website to locate the one you’re considering, and make sure they’re a member of the FDIC. If you’re still unsure of a bank’s legitimacy, it’s highly recommended you do more research before singing up for anything or giving any information.

Convenience

Does this branch have a lot of locations in your area? Or will you have to drive twenty minutes out of your way just to deposit a check or visit an ATM? Choosing a branch that’s prevalent in your city or town will make a world of difference in time and gas money, which is why convenience is so important. Do yourself a favor and pick a company that will make your life easier, not more complicated.

Gut Feeling

Which branch seems the friendliest or has the best customer service? Remember that you’ll be with this company for the foreseeable future and you’ll want to make a decision you’re comfortable with. If a branch in question is the most convenient and relatively fee-free, but you doubt the legitimacy, go with your gut feeling. Switching banks can be a pain, so think carefully before making a final decision.

Since the company you choose will be handling your personal finances, it’s best not to rush into a decision. Consider compiling a list of pros and cons for each branch and compare them side-by-side. Decide what’s most important to you in your banking and make an informed decision off those criteria.

How to Shop Around for the Best Checking Account

Whether it is your first back account or your fifteenth, choosing a bank account should always be done with careful consideration. If chosen haphazardly or on a whim, your new bank account can prove to be the cause of many unnecessary headaches, and even end up costing you a lot of money in checking fees. There are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine whether or not a bank meets the right criteria to be the right bank for you.

1) The first thing to determine is exactly what kind of bank account you are looking for, and what needs of yours must be met by this bank. For example, do you want to have a brick and mortar bank that you can walk into and talk with a banker if needed? Or do you operate mostly online or remotely, and therefore need a bank with strong online capabilities? Is the account a business or a personal account? Some banks will specialize in business or personal accounts, so that will be a good factor to take into account. Also, it’s a good idea to determine what kind of services you like to have in a bank, such as direct deposit, mobile banking, convenient ATM locations, etc. Once you know what you want and what you need, it becomes easier to single out the right bank account for you.

2) Ask friends and family about where they bank and why. This is one of the best ways to shop around, based on your interests and word-of-mouth from people you trust. Doing online research is also crucial to narrowing your list of banks that you have listed. One of the biggest benefits of the internet is the ability to read reviews of businesses online, though these are best taken with a grain of salt.

3) Find out if the banks on your list are FDIC insured. This means that the bank is insured and regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Before moving any funds or setting up direct deposit into a bank account it is a good idea to make sure the bank is FDIC insured in order to protect your money.

4) Do some research into the different types of accounts. If you know for sure what type of account you are looking for from Step 1 (above) then this step may not apply, however, it is a good idea to find out what other kinds of account are available for future reference. Make sure you know the difference between a Checking, Savings, and Money Market account, and what interest rates are available for money market, interest earning savings accounts, and interest earning checking accounts.

5) One of the most important parts of choosing a new bank account is finding out about checking fees. A bank that has no fees is the best option, but there are also banks with low fees or minimum requirements. The key is to ask about any and all fees related to the account, especially hidden bank fees and monthly fees for minimums not met. It’s also a good idea to ask about overdraft protection, which pulls from savings to cover over drawn money from your checking account. Many banks offer this at no extra cost.