Samirian Hill, president of BudgetWise Financial Solutions, said there are three key considerations when choosing a bank: lifestyle, usage and fees.
Hill said the first consideration should be your financial habits, as what you do could determine which bank is right for you. You should ask yourself a few questions.
“Do you prefer a community or regional bank, or a larger national or international bank?” she asked. “It will vary among individuals. For example, someone who travels frequently will value having ATM and branch access globally.”
On the other hand, if you don’t typically take big trips outside your area, you might go with a community bank where you have the comfort of knowing your teller.
Another important consideration is how you plan to use your bank. Some may just want an institution that holds their money. Others might be looking for a one-stop shop.
Hill said some banks offer a limited amount of services, while others may offer options like small business banking and investment opportunities.
It can be confusing to read through the fee language when opening an account. Hill outlined a couple of things to look out for.
“Commonly missed items in the fine print may include limited transfers on a money market account, overdraft fees or hidden costs like reprinting a check or duplicate statements,” Hill said.
You might look to an account offering a higher interest rate for your money. After all, you’re giving it to them, so they might as well give you something back. However, it is important to consider liquidity in this decision.
“Fees are not typically higher [on high-interest accounts],” Hill said, “but the drawbacks may be limited access or transfers.”
Another fee to consider would be the early closeout fee. If a customer opens an account, changes their mind and removes the money within six months, Hill said they are often charged for closing out the account.
Hill said customers often consider an account maintenance fee, but there may be other miscellaneous charges to think about as well.
“Other fees to take into consideration are ATM surcharges for [going] out of network,” she said, as well as “foreign transaction fees if you are a traveler, transfer fees to move money between accounts [and] overdraft fees.”
What are your criteria for picking the right bank? Share them with us in the comments below.
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