Opening a checking account seems simple. You just walk into a bank and open one up, right? But not all checking accounts are the same, and it’s a good idea to do some basic research to find the account that’s right for you.
Here’s some features to look for in your next checking account.
- FDIC insurance – Before you even open an account, make sure your bank is FDIC insured, like we are here at Valley. FDIC insurance provides protection for your deposits (up to $250,000) if anything were to happen to your bank.
- Minimum balance requirements – There are many different types of checking accounts and some will provide additional benefits if you maintain a minimum monthly balance. Some of the common benefits will include earning interest on the account, waived account fees, and enhanced service options.
- Monthly fees – Some banks may charge a monthly fee to maintain an account, but most have opportunities for getting this fee waived, such as maintaining a specific balance, opening multiple accounts, or having your paycheck direct deposited.
- Limits on transactions – Some accounts are designed for people that use banking in a specific way. For example, a bank may waive fees each month if you perform all your transactions online. These accounts may limit the type or number of transactions. Make sure you understand any restrictions, so you’re not surprised with additional fees.
- ATM fees – It’s common for ATMs to charge transaction fees if your bank is not part of its financial network. If you commonly use ATMs, think about where your bank has branches and ask about where you can find an ATM near you. Look to see if they have an account that includes reimbursement for out of network ATM transactions. A little bit of planning can save you a lot of money in transaction fees.
- Customer service options – Although opening a checking account is a simple transaction, your banking needs will change throughout your life. The bank that maintains your primary checking account will become a valuable partner when you need a home mortgage or a loan to purchase your next vehicle. Make sure your bank offers a high level of customer service because it can save you time and money when future needs arise.