How To Choose The Best Bank For A Checking Account – 5 Criteria
On the lookout for a new checking account? You may find yourself wanting to switch banks because you have become dissatisfied with your current bank’s level of customer service, their availability of local branches near you, or their draconian fee policy.
Or, maybe you have been having trouble qualifying for a new checking account. If so, it is possible that your name has been reported by your past bank to a database called ChexSystems. 13-best-banks-who-dont-use-chexsystemsThis database is what banks use to report risky bank customers to each other. Once you are in ChexSystems, it can be hard to qualify for a new bank account with most banks.
Whatever the reason for your shopping for a new bank that offers an excellent checking account service, you are going to want to have a list of the most important criteria that you should be looking for in a bank. By having such a list of criteria, you can take the guesswork out of how to choose the right bank for you.
Here are 5 criteria for how to choose the best bank for a checking account:
1. Make sure they are FDIC-insured:
While most banks today are FDIC-insured, some are not. The FDIC – or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – was established in the U.S. in 1933 as a way of protecting individual bank depositors from losing their money in the event of a bank closure. The overall goal: to increase consumer confidence in the U.S. banking system. Today, FDIC-insured banks will insure your money for up to $250,000 – even if the bank itself were to fail.
2. Ask whether they charge a monthly checking account fee:
Fees, fees, fees! These are the biggest source of customer complaints about their banks. Start your line of inquiry about your prospective bank’s fee policy by asking about monthly checking account fees. Most banks today offer completely free checking, but not all do.
3. Find out what other per-usage fees may be charged:
What about other fees? Be sure to ask. Some fees are charged on a per-usage basis, such as when you write more than a certain number of checks in given a month. Also, look into potentially hidden fees such as those charged for you to be able to view past checks you have written that have cleared.
4. Ask about their overdraft protection policy:
Overdraft protection was a wonderfully-lucrative invention by banks. Gaining in widespread popularity in the early 2000s, overdraft protection was devised as a way to protect bank customers from having their checks bounce or debit card transactions denied. However, with fees of up to $35/instance and no limit to number of instances in a given day, what overdraft protection amounted to was a huge money-making scheme for banks.
Recent Congressional legislation now requires that banks allow new checking account customers to opt in (rather than merely opt out) to overdraft protection. Still, once you are enrolled, these programs can become quite costly for the bank customer. Buyer beware!
5. Find out if they offer online banking:
Finally, ask about your prospective bank’s online banking services. Through their service, you should have the ability to make balance transfers between your accounts, pay bills online, and even inquire about an auto loan or equity line of credit.
Bonus tip: if you have had trouble qualifying for a new bank account, look for “second chance checking” banks: they will never look at ChexSystems when deciding whether to approve your checking account application.
Keep these 5 criteria in mind as you find the best bank for a checking account.