Whether you just moved to a new city or simply want to find a better bank for you and your money, there are several factors to consider when choosing a financial institution. Many people focus on a bank’s proximity for convenience’s sake, but there should be more to finding the right fit than that, especially now that online banking offers us more options.
Before making a decision, shop around for different banks or credit unions, do some research and check out customer reviews. In addition, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) cautions against overlooking some small details that could end up costing you money and causing headaches. To help you choose the right banking institution, BBB suggests considering these five factors:
Fees. Many bank accounts offered are free, but there are some that have fees you might avoid if you’re familiar with the terms. Some banks will waive a fee if money is directly deposited in your account monthly. Another avoidable fee is overdraft charges. Some banks allow customers to link other accounts so, if you do overdraw, funds from one account can be transferred to the other to cover expenses. Some institutions also offer low-balance alerts via email or text message when your account is at risk of being overdrawn.
Minimum Balance Requirements. It’s essential to have a good idea of your budget before signing up for a bank account with a minimum balance requirement. Living on a tight budget can make it difficult to keep a minimum amount on hand, and getting charged when you can’t feels like adding insult to injury. Small banks, credit unions, some online banks, and specific “no minimum balance” checking accounts are options that may help you avoid this type of fee.
ATM Access. While most transactions happen electronically, you may still need an ATM–whether to deposit cash and checks or withdraw money. Banks may charge you for withdrawing cash from an ATM that isn’t within the bank’s network. While it may seem wise to pick the bank with the most ATMs in your area, some banks, including smaller and online institutions, will reimburse fees incurred by using an out-of-network ATM.
Online and Mobile Access. Most Americans access their bank accounts via online and mobile platforms. It’s important to ask about banks’ digital platforms and ask what functions are offered. Checking your account(s), paying bills, making electronic deposits, transferring funds, updating personal information, and ordering checks are a few about which to inquire.
Sub Accounts. It’s also helpful to choose an account that’ll help you not only attain goals in the present, but also in the future. If you have dreams of being an entrepreneur, you may want to choose a bank that can support you as you build a business. If you wish to buy a home, choosing a bank that offers mortgage loans may make the buying process less stressful.