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What is the first thing you think of when you hear the words checking account? Immediately I think of bills, budgeting, and register. I’m from the generation who grew up using a paper register and writing down debits and credits.
I didn’t realize how old I was getting until one day I was speaking to my local branch teller, and she did not know what a check register was. Regardless I do like where I currently bank. My personal checking account doesn’t have a monthly fee and the employees are friendly.
You can easily choose a bank or credit union in your area, but make sure the bank or credit union you choose meets your banking needs.
How to Choose the Best Checking Account
Consider the factors below when you choose the best checking account for you:
Find out if the bank or credit union has a minimum balance requirement. Basically, this means the bank or credit union will charge you a specific amount every month if you do not maintain a minimum amount in the checking account.
In addition, to the minimum balance requirement a direct deposit from your work or retirement may be required to keep the account open.
Fees are dollar amounts charged to you by the bank. The common fees to look for are cash deposit fees, overdraft fees, non-sufficient fund fees, and ATM fees.
Most of these fees can be avoided if you manage your checking account responsibly by keeping track of your total. Make certain you keep a positive balance in your account.
Location and ATM Network Access
Are you someone who often deposits cash? If so, you need to be aware of branch locations and ATM access. Many larger credit unions or banks offer a network of ATM’s you can use for free.
While choosing the best checking account for you, be sure to ask questions about in-network and out-of-network ATM’s and locations. In addition, ask about ATM and cash deposit fees or reimbursement opportunities.
Look for the bank or credit unions that has insurance from the FDIC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the NCUA, National Credit Union Administration.
The FDIC and the NCUA both offer standard insurance coverage of $250,000 for each depositor. These insurances are in place to protect the depositor if the bank or credit union goes under.
Interest and Rewards
Checking accounts are not savings accounts and therefore many checking accounts do not offer an interest rate. However, you need to do your research if this is a benefit you are interested in obtaining.
Many banks and credit unions now offer cashback rewards based on purchases and the way in which you use or don’t use your debit card.
For instance, my credit union encourages me to use the credit option while using my debit card instead of the debit option. Once a year I am rewarded with cashback on those purchases.
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Mobile Apps and Internet Features
Are you someone who is always on the go? Then don’t forget to inquire about mobile app and check deposit features with the use of your phone.
Do you like to use the internet to pay your bills? Ask if their checking account offers a bill payment option.
Ask about transferring money to family members or being able to send wire transfers. Be sure to inquire about all of your banking opportunities using their app or a website login.
If you are part of the military, a government employee, a schoolteacher, or any other large organization check with your HR department to find out if you can open an account with a local credit union. Benefits of being part of a larger group often allows you the benefits of a better place to bank.
Before running out to the closest bank to open a checking account take time to consider short term and long-term goals. Be sure to ask questions before finding out your banking is limited.
There are lots of great checking accounts. Choose the best checking account for you!