Questions to Ask When Choosing A Bank and Opening a New Account

by Junior Boomer on April 19, 2011

Choosing a bank is a task that takes careful consideration. Depending on what your banking needs are and what extra services you might be looking for can greatly impact what bank is best for you. The good news is that comparison shopping between different banks has really never been easier. You should be able to find most of what you need to know right on the internet. If you are looking at local banks or credit unions your research may also include a trip to your local branch. Here is a look at all the questions you may want to consider when choosing the best bank for you:

The Basics

There are some basic details that should be at the top of your list when checking out banking establishments. No matter what your banking needs are, these items are generally considered to be most important.

  • Is your money safe? This is the most important question you should be asking when choosing a bank. If your money is not secure, you could wake up one day to find it gone. If choosing a bank, make sure that the bank is insured by the FDIC. Or, if choosing a credit union, make sure your money is insured by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA).
  • How Accessible is Your Money?: When choosing a bank you need to ask yourself what kind of accessibility do I need? Do you need a local bank or is internet banking a better choice for you? Today there are more choices available than ever before to choose from, and you will want to carefully weigh your options. Determine if you need a local bank, what hours you need the bank open, where the best location would ideally be and so on. Additionally, you may want to test out the customer service and find out what hours they are available. Some banks provide 24/7 customer service and some have more limited hours. Finally, how accessible are in-network ATM’s? Does the bank refund fees for third party ATMs?
  • What’s the total cost? What will the cost be for your banking needs? It is not uncommon today for even basic checking accounts to be quite costly. You will want to find out before you sign up for an account if there are monthly fees as well as what the fee is for stopped payments, overdrafts, return checks, ATM charges, debit card fees, etc.

What Else Matters?

Now that you have the basics down, you are not done quite yet. There are numerous other items to consider that relate more to your specific needs.

  • Additional products and services: Are you looking for more than just a basic checking account now or in the future? If so, you will want to consider what other services the bank offers that will be able to fit these additional needs. Banks and credit unions can offer items like car loans, mortgages, credit cards, certificates of deposit, reward checking, safety deposit boxes, financial planning services and more.
  • On-line banking: Many banks and credit unions today offer numerous on-line banking options. In fact, more and more people today are doing all of their banking right from the comfort of their home. If this is you, then looking at what on line banking options are offered will certainly factor into your decision. Does the bank offer on-line bill pay, transferring between accounts, etc. Also, is there any cost associated with these services? Most banks offer free on-line banking so be sure to look for one that does.

Choosing a bank is definitely not a task that should be taken lightly. Make sure you take the time to comparison shop and it can never hurt to read bank reviews or get recommendations from others. After all, when you choose a bank you will want to know that your hard earned money and all of your financial needs are being well taken care of.

This post was provided by DepositAccounts.com, a site that helps consumers compare checking and savings account rates from thousands of banks.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Peterson @ Skip 2 End April 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

Good advice for anyone thinking of switching bank accounts. In the UK more and more people are influenced by reviews from customers to make their decisions about what type of accounts will best suit them.

firstSTREET April 20, 2011 at 9:59 am

Great post! There are so many types of accounts, and each bank has their own rewards and requirements for opening one. Often, the additional products and services you mention can make all the difference, from cash rewards to household appliances. Additionally, internet banking a huge factor today, especially the ability to access your accounts from a smart phone. Great information!

Bob at Retirement Investment April 21, 2011 at 1:00 am

Your point about bank safety can’t be over-emphasized. Since the start of the financial crisis in 2007, several hundred US banks have failed. 28 have failed so far in 2011. When that happens, the FDIC steps in. They usually arrange for the sale of the failed bank to another, healthier, bank. If that can’t be done, the FDIC will reimburse depositors up to its legal limits.

So yes, make sure your bank is FDIC insured. Also, make sure you don’t have more than the limit. The FDIC insures up to $250K per depositor in a given bank, regardless of the number of accounts in that bank. In other words, you can have several accounts in the same bank, but the FDIC won’t pay you more than $250K for your accounts in that bank.

The FDIC keeps a list of banks in jeopardy. You can see that list at the FDIC web site. Bankrate.com also uses its own system to rate bank solvency, available at its web site. See Retirement Investment for other options.

CA Karan Batra April 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Which bank would you recommend me to opt for considering the fact that I’m looking for a Bank with Lower Annual Costs and high security. Thanks in advance.

Frugally Savvy April 21, 2011 at 4:49 pm

The very first question that I ask when opening up a new bank account is can I get any free money for opening up the account.

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