How to Choose a Bank?

Banking is an integral part of our lives. Aside from depositing and withdrawing funds for everyday expenses and recreation, banks are useful for acquiring loans and investment options. Even though many people put little thought into selecting a financial institution, it helps to consider certain factors prior to choosing a bank.

âÂ?¢ Checking Account Fees: A bulk of banks and other financial institutions charges their customers a monthly service fee for having a checking account. The fees are typically reasonable, ranging from $5 – $10 each month. However, a lot of banks will waive this fee. Of course, before the fee is waived, the customer must contact the bank and request a free checking account. Each bank is different. Thus, some banks may require a positive banking history before a checking account service fee is waived. While inquiring about service fees, also ask about miscellaneous fees for return checks, overdraft protection, etc.

� Is Overdraft Protection an Option?: There are two ways to utilize overdraft protection. Customers who open a savings and checking account with a particular bank may receive protection against bounced checks. In other words, money from your savings account is automatically transferred to your checking account is there are not enough funds to cover a check written. Thus, you avoid a return check fee from the merchant. Another option involves your bank extending credit to avoid a checking account overdraw.

� Conveniently Located: Some companies offer their employees checking or savings accounts with credit unions. Credit unions are useful for many reasons. They usually offer the lowest rates on auto loans and home loans. Furthermore, credit unions are member-owned and have lower fees. On the flip side, credit unions generally consist of only one or two branches, and may be located on the other side of town. Save time and money by choosing a bank or credit union located near home or work.

� Direct Deposit: Direct deposit is an appealing feature offered by many employers. Funds are usually deposited on payday at midnight. Thus, employees receive funds quicker and avoid the hassle of long bank lines. Unfortunately, some banks and credit unions do not offer this option. Before opening a checking or savings account, inquire about direct deposit. Banks offering direct deposits may encourage its use by waiving monthly service fees for customers who utilize this option.

� Local vs. National: Hometown or community banks may offer a few unique services. Yet, the majority of these banks cannot be found outside the local area. Thus, if you need to hit an ATM for extra cash while vacationing out of town, be prepared to pay a surcharge. To avoid ATM fees, choose national or regional banks.

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