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.