Choosing the right bank for you can be overwhelming. From credit unions to thrift institutions and internet banks, learning about different financial institutions entails more than just finding out who has the best giveaway. Often, promotions come with “hooks” that may end up costing you more, which makes it more difficult for managing debt. So, how do you make the right decision? Consider the services and features that you value most when selecting the right bank for you.
Choosing the Right Bank for You
- Types of products offered: Are you looking for a checking or savings account, loan, or debit card? Do you keep all your accounts at one bank or do you spread your money out to get the best deals on rates and fees? Make sure your bank offers whatever products you need so that you can personalize your finances. For instance, big banks provide almost all of your financial product service needs. Regional banks, on the other hand, may offer more personalized customer service.
- Accessibility: Convenience is very important when choosing the right bank. Ask yourself if the bank is located near your home or work. When are the hours of operation? Does the bank have many ATM locations or can you access other ATMs with your bank card? If you travel a lot, you might want to consider an online or mobile bank where you can perform digital transactions.
- Fees and rates: An institution might charge fees for monthly maintenance, ATM use, overdrafts, transferring money between accounts, etc. To avoid getting into too much debt from fees, do your research and shop around. Check for the lowest interest rates on credit cards and loans, and the rates you would earn on deposit accounts. To qualify for free checking, banks often require a minimum balance of about $1,500 and assess a charge if a customer falls below this balance. Banks that do not require a minimum, however, may try to recoup the lost fees in other ways, such as with overdraft fees. You can usually find this information on their websites, or you can call customer service.
- Technology: Digital, mobile and internet banking are all alternatives to traditional banking. Features include the ability to transfer money easily, remote check depositing, budgeting tools, and automated savings plans. Internet banks may be more competitive with the rates they offer on savings and loan products than brick and mortar institutions. They are very well funded and just as safe as the bank on the corner.
When it comes down to it, choosing the right bank is a personal decision. A number of factors go into making a selection, but a bank that suits your immediate needs is always a wise choice. Young college graduates might want to consider an internet bank because they usually require a low minimum balance. This way, they can draft a get out of debt plan for their student loans and other debts. If you have a demanding work life, you may want to consider a national bank with a larger product suite so it’s easier when making lengthy financial decisions. As you can tell, the right bank for you varies greatly from person to person based on your individual circumstances.