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3 Tips to Opening a New Checking Account

3 Tips to Opening a New Checking Account

3 Tips to Opening a New Checking Account

Is your mail box full of offers from banks to switch checking accounts for cash or prizes? These offers might seem appealing, until you read the fine print and see all of the conditions and actions required for the full payout. So when it comes to opening a new checking account, here are three tips to help you navigate the many offers and find the best one for you.

1. Decide what you want or need from a checking account

Earning interest or dividends. Racking up rewards points. Cash back. You’re likely to come across all types of offers attached to a checking account, so it’s important to know not only what you would like to have, but also how you use your checking account.

Still using paper checks? Want a full suite of services available through online banking? Enjoy the convenience of local ATM access and mobile deposits? Then include those as part of your shopping list. Another consideration is deciding whether you prefer a bank or credit union with a brick-and-mortar branch you can visit, or if you are looking for one with the best online or mobile banking experience.

Ultimately, you want to open a checking account with a financial institution that meets all of your future needs. There is something to be said about establishing a relationship with a local financial service provider. If you trust them with holding your hard earned money in a checking account, then they should also be considered a valuable source for car loans, credit cards, mortgages and health savings accounts.

2. Understand the requirements and features of a checking account

If you are looking to switch banks or credit unions, make sure you understand the different checking accounts they have to offer. The first thing you’ll want to understand is if the checking account comes with monthly fees, or if you are able to open a free checking account. recently found that the average monthly service fee for checking accounts that pay interest was just over $14, and the average monthly service fee for checking accounts that don’t pay interest was about $5.50. Additionally, there could be minimum balance requirements on checking accounts as well as overdraft and ATM fees that you’ll want to be familiar with before opening your account.

Consider your habits when making a decision, but be hesitant to jump into an account with the hope that you will change your current savings, borrowing or spending practices. For example, do you typically keep a balance of $1,000 in your account for emergencies? If so, an account that waives the monthly fee in exchange for a minimum balance of $1,000 makes sense for you.

Even easier can be the waiver of fees for a loan relationship. Many people have car loans or mortgages on their homes. So building a relationship with a local financial institute by refinancing those loans with them can not only offer an interest savings, but can help you waive any monthly fees that are typically charged on the checking account that you are contemplating.

Other considerations when reviewing accounts include any type of transaction limitations, the availability of branches or ATMs, and the various online or remote options available to conduct your transactions.

A well-equipped eCommerce system can help you do most of your banking remotely on your own terms, like 24/7 access to account transfers and bill payment systems. Many people love the ability to transfer money instantly to their kids in college.

3. Look for the benefits that you will enjoy the most

Now for the fun part – reviewing what kinds of perks are being offered for your new checking account. By comparing account options you can still find programs that offer free checks, loan discounts, and bump-ups on deposit rates. A careful review of account options may also uncover additional surprises. You’re probably familiar with getting something back for using your credit card — whether it’s cash, travel miles, or gift cards. But what about your checking account? Some banks and credit unions still offer rewards for debit card transactions — like earning points for your regular, monthly transactions.

So, the next time one of the shiny checking account ads catches your eye, or you find yourself thinking it’s a good time to find a new home for your hard-earned cash, be sure to do your homework. Have a good idea of what you want your checking account to do for you and then find an account that does it. Always keep in mind your future needs and make sure they can be met through a relationship with the new financial institution. Most important, enjoy the perks the new account provides you whether it is a better than average interest rate, loan discounts, or a rewards program that invites you to choose from an array of goodies.