Business & Finance Finance

How to Shop for a Checking Account

A number of qualities and benefits can go into the makeup of any given checking account.
With so many offers available, it is important to know how to compare them all, so you deal with the best bank and type of account for your situation.
It is also good to keep in mind how you plan to use the account.
Becoming educated about the details of account options could help you save time, money, and trouble down the road.
What do you need? As you search for the best checking account for you, be sure to know how you plan to use it.
You may have a large sum of money to move into the new account.
Perhaps you only need it for a small amount to handle a particular project or fund and the bulk of your finances are in another account.
Think about whether you plan to use checks, a debit card, or both, and if you would like to have bills automatically deducted from the account.
Knowing what you need before you start your search will help you sort through available options in order to find the best fit.
What fees are involved? It is not unusual for banks to have some fees involved with a checking account.
These charges are typically minimal and help the bank recoup their costs associated with holding your account.
One common type is a monthly service fee.
There also could be fees associated with using an ATM that is not at one of their bank locations.
Don't forget to look into check costs, too.
There may be an option for free plain checks.
The fees are typically low, but it is good to know what is and is not included in the plan.
What are the limits? Sometimes, especially in the case of checking accounts that don't require monthly service fees, there are certain limits to the account.
Look into whether or not there is a minimum balance required to keep it open.
That means that in order to maintain the account, the balance can not go below the dollar amount predetermined by the bank.
This protects them from fraud and default.
Also ask if there is a maximum number of checks that you can write or withdrawals you can make per month and what fees are involved if you need to go over that amount.
Another area to know about is how quickly you have access to funds that you deposit.
Find if there is any processing time that they need before you can begin to draw from the amount or if you will be able to use it the same day you make the deposit.
Some banks offer the ability to deposit checks at home on a verified computer/scanner or with your smart phone or tablet.
What are the benefits? While many checking accounts don't have special benefit offers, it is worth looking for those details, in case it is offered.
They might offer a percentage of interest on the balance you maintain or provide the equivalent in program points that can be redeemed for goods or services.
It is also good to know if they offer overdraft protection.
While you may never need it, having a process already in place to cover your expenses if you accidentally overextend can help a bad situation from becoming drastically worse.

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