Is it time to open a bank account but you’re not sure which bank to choose? Switching banks takes effort, so selecting the right bank is an important decision you only want to make once. If you’re wondering which bank is best for your needs, take these steps to get familiar with the options available and choose the institution that fits your needs.
You probably have immediate requirements that a bank must satisfy. For example, you may need a place to deposit your paycheck, or perhaps a bank that charges lower fees than your current bank. The best bank for you will not only meet those needs but also your anticipated needs in the coming years.
As you evaluate banks, consider whether you’ll grow out of an institution, or if banks excel in areas where you anticipate future needs. For example:
Several varieties of financial institutions are available. Most offer similar products and services (especially if you’re only looking for checking or savings accounts and a debit card for spending), but there are differences.
These are the brick-and-mortar banks with national (and multinational) operations that you’re probably most familiar with and hear about in the news. You may see numerous branches on busy street corners in large cities, making them the best banks for those who travel frequently.
These operate in smaller geographic areas, primarily accepting deposits and lending locally. In addition to being an essential part of the local economy, these are also the best banks for individuals who prefer a customer-centric approach.
These are member-owned, not-for-profit organizations. To open an account, you need to qualify and become a member.
These are banks without physical branches. Opening an account with them is the an option for those who prefer to bank digitally. That said, going fully online with your money can be tricky—physical locations still have value when you need in-person assistance.
Examine interest rates and account charges as you shop for a bank to determine how much you’ll earn on your deposits. Also, figure out how much will you pay for loans and what maintenance and transaction fees apply. The best rates and fee structure for you will depend on the specific product you need and your financial goals:
As you narrow your list, look for important features you’re likely to use on a day-to-day basis to make your everyday interactions with your bank as effortless as possible. These include:
Once you choose an account at your preferred bank, it’s time to open and fund it. Some institutions let you do everything online, which is a quick and easy option if you’re tech-savvy. If not, make a visit to the branch, and bring identification and an initial deposit. If you’re moving to a new bank, use a checklist to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. You don’t want to pay fees for any mistakes.
The Bottom Line: There isn’t a single best bank account out there. Different types of banks are available and have different products, rates, fees, and features. The choice comes down to which bank offers the combination of terms that best meets your needs. In fact, it’s acceptable to have more than one bank account if you can manage the accounts responsibly. Your goal is to get the best terms wherever you can find them.