Are you tired of paying service charges at the bank? Are fees eating away at your limited income? Maybe it’s time to start “shopping” for a new bank. Here are a few things that you might want to consider when comparing banks.
· Look at what is being offered from each competitor. Comparison-shop so you don’t have to pay more than you need to. Does your current bank offer free checking accounts but charge for any debit card? What does the competitor offer for free?
· Can you avoid at least balance fee if you have direct deposit or electronic statements? Many banking institutions do not charge if most of your own transactions are electronic. Having your examine direct deposited into your account is a good example of that kind of transaction. Having your statements electronically sometimes eliminates month-to-month or annual fees.
· A lot of banks charge minimum balance charges to help cover expenses, so maybe you should consider a “no frills” checking account. This type of account is a basic accounts that may limit the number of checks your own write each month or perhaps limit the amount of ATM/debit card transactions each month. Intended for someone who does not use his/her accounts very much, this might be a great option to simplify your account and save you some cash.
· Are you in an account that will pays you interest but you generally seem to be charged a monthly charge because you can’t maintain the minimum balance? With the low interest rates being paid out on accounts these days, it might be better to choose a free account that pays simply no interest or even a smaller interest accounts that does not have fees connected with this. Similarly, it may be better to leave the minimum amount in one account to avoid a monthly fee than to transfer it into an account that is having to pay a minimal interest rate.
· Understand what you are able to lose if you do not meet all the terms and conditions of the account. Read all of the information regarding the account you are considering, including the small print, and ask questions if you are unclear. Taking an extra few minutes will hopefully save you from being surprised late simply by fees or account limitations you could have avoided.
· Ask how the financial institution calculates the account balance for purposes of meeting a required minimum. Each bank is different. While some will charge in case you go below the minimum at any time during the month, others will charge only if your average daily balance drops below the minimum balance.
· Pay attention to the communications you get from your bank. This will help you avoid possible unforeseen costs to your accounts. It doesn’t matter if you check your balance online or make use of paper statements. Balancing your checkbook on a regular basis will help avoid overdraft costs from mistakes of not writing things in your checkbook or transposing numbers by accident. Also, it will notify you to fees that your bank may start charging that you may have forgotten regarding or didn’t notice in the mailings from your bank.
· If overdrafts are a common occurrence with your account, look for a bank that offers alternatives for example drafting from a savings account to avoid the large overdraft fees or maybe an overdraft line of credit, which is a loan that is automatically triggered if there is a shortfall inside your checking account. If things are really limited at the moment and you are facing an immediate cash crunch, perhaps talking together with your bank about a small loan to pay those expenses might be an option. A few banks also offer free financial guidance to help you assess your spending behavior and determine why you have consistent overdrafts. They may be able to provide assistance that will help you avoid overdrafts by getting your financial life straightened out.
· Does the bank charge ATM fees? How often do you use the CREDIT? Can you do a debit transaction instead of getting cash from an ATM? There are many ways to avoid ATM costs, and it’s best to know your options.
Shopping for a new bank is not hard but it is definitely time-consuming so get yourself organized before you begin. Know which banking features would be the most important to you and then do a price comparison between a couple of banks and credit unions. When shopping for a brand new bank, take into consideration its location and ease of getting there during business hours. Also consider its some other features that might make your life easier. And finally, what kind of atmosphere do you want from your banking encounter?
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Do you like the “feel” of a smaller sized local bank or credit union where the employees know your title and are on a more personal level? Or, do you prefer a large financial institution that has more locations and less interaction with the employees because you do everything electronically? Not every bank is the right bank for you so take a little time and choose wisely. Your decision could save you profit the long run.