How To Compare Banking Accounts

When opening new bank accounts, you'll want to run some basic comparisons before you sign on the dotted line. Bank accounts vary considerably, and you'll want to find the best bank account for your needs.

One of the easiest ways to compare bank accounts is to use an online bank comparison tool, such as www.bankrate.com. Once on the site, enter your city and desired bank account type information. Compare the different fees, restrictions and opportunities available with each local bank. You'll want to look for the best interest rate and the lowest fees, but, more than that, you'll want to make sure this account does what you need.

What should you ask when comparing bank accounts? Go through this list of questions when comparing specific bank accounts because even bank accounts offered by the same lending institution can vary quite a bit. Then head to the local branch of the bank you are considering, or chat with a representative if you are looking into an online bank.

  • How much money will I have to deposit when opening this account?
  • What is the minimum balance required? What happens if I go under that minimum balance?
  • What fees are charged for simply using this account? What kind of activity will trigger higher fees?
  • Is this a free checking account? What does it cost to order checks? Is there a surcharge for processing a certain number of checks? Free checking accounts may carry balance restrictions or limited check processing restrictions, so read the fine print and get the details.
  • What kind of interest rate, if any, will this bank account garner?
  • What happens if I bounce a check? What happens if a check I deposit bounces, causing me to dip below a zero balance?
  • What kind of fees are associated with using this bank's ATMs? What fees are charged if I use another bank's ATM?
  • Will I have online access to this account?
  • What physical services are provided in relation to this bank account?

You can also choose an online checking or savings account. Online banks are not restricted by brick and mortar locations, so you can take advantage of low fees and other advantages regardless of the physical location of these bank accounts. If you need to use the physical bank facilities for any reason, an online bank account is not the best option for you.

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