Choosing the right bank can be a
difficult. Many banks are offering more services and charging more fees than ever before. When selecting a bank, make a list of your
own banking habits, and what you want from your bank. this will help you evaluate and compare banks. Here are some ideas about what bank services and fees to compare:
Close is not necessarily better. Consider whether or not you are willing to pay higher
fees for better location, or if lower fees may be worth a little travel.
"One Stop Shop or Diversity?
Relationship Banking is when a bank encourages you to place all bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, etc.,
with one bank. The advantage of relationship banking is that your bank may offer special deal and reduced fees if you do this. The disadvantage is that you are only insured for $100,000.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
Usually using your own banks
ATM is free, but your bank may charge you an average of $1.00 to $1.50
each time you use another banks ATM. Then you may also have to pay an
additional fee $1.00 to $2.50 to the bank where you do not have an account for the
use of its ATM. Compare fees being charged by the bank for the use of its own ATM by its account holders
and for the use another banks ATM.
Minimum Account Balances
Many banks require balances of $1000 or more
or more in order to get free checking or savings accounts. a New trend if free checking for new customers for the first 6 months. Consider the amount of interest you might earn
on that same $1500 if placed in a savings account or a CD. also compare the monthly general maintenance
fees charged by banks on checking and savings accounts.
Read the fine print about how the bank
calculates fees if you fall beneath this minimum balance.
One way is to charge a fee if the average daily balance over one
month is lower than the minimum another does it immediately upon the balance falling.
Interest Bearing Checking Accounts
There are expenses and benefits
to interest bearing checking accounts versus savings accounts or CDs. You
can usually earn more interest in a savings account, money market or CD, instead of an interest
bearing checking account. If you routinely keep enough money in your checking
account to meet the minimum balance, gaining interest
on that money is a bonus. However, if you don't to meet the
minimum balance requirements, an interest bearing checking account usually will have
a higher monthly fee than a one that does not earn interest.
Special Bank accounts,
for children, students and senior citizens, and special savings plans, such
as "Christmas clubs" or vacation plans normally
do not carry any fees.
New Trends at many Banks are Fees for Special Services
Many banks are now charging high fees for copies of canceled checks,account research and copies of bank statements.
Overdraft protection is a service
that can be very helpful to avoid returned check fees. Be sure to carefully review the terms
of the agreement before you sign. Some banks are actually offering short term
loans as overdraft protection, which requires a credit check and they charge you interest
on the money loaned to you by the bank to cover what would otherwise be a bounced
check and they might still charge you a fee for the service.
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Banks are now encouraging
both individual customers and businesses to use direct deposit services. Through direct
deposit, your paycheck or government issued check is deposited directly into
your bank account. No paper check is issued, and your entire check is available
as cash on your regular payday. Some banks are offering reduced or waived monthly
maintenance fees, free ATM usage and other incentives to sign up for direct
Another special service that banks
offer is selling checks. Many banks offer a certain amount of free checks as
an incentive to open an account. Checks are often cheaper when purchased directly from a check
Charges Per Transaction
Along with the monthly
fees that many banks charge, some also charge fees per transaction, such as
writing a check, moving money from one account to the other, checking balances
at your an ATM, or withdrawing money through an ATM. These fees and really add up. Be sure to ask for and thoroughly review a list of all fees charged by the bank.
A fast growing area of most banks is online banking
services through which all banking transactions can be done from a your pc
with Internet access. Ask if the bank charges a monthly access
fee for these services. If you to use online banking services to pay your bills, the bank may charge a monthly
fee for this service, although more banks arnow offering this for free.
Beware of unfamiliar online banks, ther armany scams on the web and no bank regulatorsonthe web. Check the Web sites "About Us" page
to see whether the bank has physical offices in the United States. Be sure that
deposits with the online bank would be covered by insurance through the Federal
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); look for the familiar FDIC logo or the
words "Member FDIC" of "FDIC Insured" on the site. If you
choose to use a bank chartered overseas, the FDIC may not insure your deposits.
Some traditional banks may use a
different name for the online presence of their bank, for insurance purposes.
If this is the case, be aware that your deposits at the parent bank would be
added to any separate deposits at the online version of the same bank, and the
total would be insured by the FDIC only for the maximum allowed for a single
Be sure that transactions through
online banks Web site will be secure - encrypted. In the address window of your browser,
check to see that the first part of the online banks Web address changes
from "http://" to "https://;" and also check
the lower corner of the Web page to see whether a lock or key symbol appears,
If you use online banking services
to pay bills, keep good records of your transactions. Make sure they have a
a toll-free cutomer service
number or email address, in case you need help.
Making choosing a bank even more difficult is the growing number of bank mergers, which can change a banks policies
and fee structure overnight. Be sure to thoroughly read any new rules and regulations sent to you if your bank is bought or merges with another bank.
If you would like to file a complaint
against a bank, contact the following:
or by e-mail atCustomer.Assistance@occ.treas.gov.
The Office of Thrift Supervision
regulates savings banks and savings and loan banks having the word "Federal"
in their name or which use the initials FSB (federal savings bank) or FSLA (federal
savings and loan association). You can contact this agency by writing to them.