Choose a Bank Thats Right for you

By: Bob Guy

So you are fed up with fees and the confusing rules of your bank and you're ready to shop for a new one. There are so many banking options that it can be hard to tell where to start. Do your research and it can pay off for many years. Find the right bank for you, your financial situation and your lifestyle. Here are some tips and things to consider when starting on your new bank journey.

First, find a bank that is convenient to you. Branches near your home or work and many ATMs in your area are good things to look for. You can call the banks around you and ask for information concerning how many branches are within five to ten miles of the places that you usually go. They should be able to tell you how many ATMs are in the area. Some banks even have a map either online or available in the bank that will show you where every ATM in town is. Keep a copy in your car so that you don't end up paying any extra fees that could have been easily avoided.

If you travel frequently, you may consider going with a national instead of a local bank. This way you can have access to branches and ATMs while you're traveling. If you would rather create a personal relationship with your bankers, then a local bank could be better for you.

Research different types of accounts and account fees of the banks that you like online before you go to the branch office. Credit unions often have lower fees and more forgiving terms if you qualify to join one.

A lot of banks offer interest bearing checking accounts. Sometimes they require a larger amount of money to open the account or they require direct deposit from your payroll to qualify for this type of account. Watch for things like minimum balance requirements which can be hard to maintain.

If you have a credit card or fairly good credit, you may be able to get an account with overdraft protection. This can save you lots of money that would normally be spent on fees. Some banks offer a loan that your checking can be linked to. Any charges that go over the amount in your checking account will be added to the loan amount you're approved for. The fees can be a lot less than a classic overdraft, especially if you pay the balance of the loan before interest has a chance to accrue. Balances that are added to a credit card can be a little hard to manage because you may not notice that you're slowly going deeper and deeper in debt.

Lastly, look for options that can really suit your lifestyle. Free online banking can save you lots of time normally spent on automated phone lines and standing in line at the bank. Free unlimited bill pay can save you on stamps, envelopes and most importantly time. Plus, the history of how much you paid each month is saved on the web site and is easy to retrieve and analyze. Payments that bill collectors never received will have traceable proof that you sent it in on time. Also, when you pay online, the money immediately comes out of your account and you don't have checks floating around waiting to clear.

Make the right decision and you should have a long, happy, healthy relationship with your new bank.

Banking
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