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How to Choose a Bank

Oct 31, 2007
One of the most important things you will have to do (when it is time to do so) is to choose a bank. Your bank will be one of your most important financial tools and you should be sure that you are choosing the bank that best fits your needs. This article discusses some of the things you need to consider when choosing a bank.

You should, if possible, visit the banks in your area and speak with the new account's personnel. These are the people who know the bank's services best and they are usually very good at explaining their services. Most banks will have brochures that you can take with you and read at your leisure before making a decision.

One of the most important questions that you need to get an answer for is whether or not the bank is covered through the FDIC. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures your money up to $100,000. This is a government insurance program that protects your money from loss. If your bank is not backed by this program, you should find another bank.

You will want to know the types of accounts that the bank offers. You will also want to know if there are any monthly fees for the accounts and what those fees are. Many banks now offer free checking accounts. You may also want to know what their savings accounts are and how they work.

Another issue that is often important to consumers is availability. Does the bank have an ATM for you to use during off hours? Is there a charge for using the machine? Do they offer overdraft protection? These are just a few of the questions that will help you find the best bank to fit your needs.

In addition to the physical aspects of the bank you may also be interested in online banking. Many consumers find online banking to be very useful. Not all banks offer this service yet, so it is best to ask.

Other issues that you may want to look into include such things as the availability of debit cards. These cards resemble credit cards but they act differently. Debit cards actually take the amount of the purchase out of your checking account. There is no "credit" associated with them, even though they can be used in as many places as a credit card.

You may also want to know if the bank issues money orders and what they charge for those. Some banks will allow you to buy a certain number of money orders per month at discounted prices. The same question can be asked about traveler's checks.

Lastly, it is a good idea to work with the same bank that you imagine you might want to use for future home loans or car loans. Banks like to work with long time customers and they will usually work harder with their own customers than they would with someone who just walked off the street. If you are planning to buy a home or car, try to deal with the bank that can finance that future loan.
About the Author
Peter Kenny is a writer for The Thrifty Scot, please visit us at Home Improvement Loan and Credit Cards
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