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Speculative Women on Computer

4.6.2023 / Financial Tips

Does Your Bank Have Your Back?

Speculative Women on Computer

Every bank differs in its strengths, operations model, and customer focus. So, finding the right bank to meet your needs and your unique financial situation is key. Whether it is having a local branch that is available to meet with you to help you develop a financial plan, a large ATM network, or a no-fee checking account, how do you decide if a bank is right for you?

Six steps to choosing the right bank:

  1. Identify what type of account is right for you. Banks offer many types of products and services ranging from Checking to Savings to Money Market to Certificates of Deposit (CD). Depending on your financial goals and priorities, one type or even a combination of types of accounts may be needed. Checking accounts Do you keep a high balance? Then an interest-bearing account may be a good fit for you. Maybe a “no fees” type of account is more important to you than a high-yield interest rate where you have to keep a minimum balance. Savings Accounts If you have money that you don’t need to access often, then a high-yield savings account may offer you a higher rate of return than a checking account and more access than a CD. Money Market Accounts While Money Market accounts are very similar to savings accounts, they tend to offer check-writing privileges and higher interest rates for higher balances. Certificate of Deposit (CD) CDs are a safe way to invest your money with a guaranteed rate of return. CDs come in a variety of terms to meet your specific needs. You can sometimes access your funds before the term is over but will typically be charged a fee or forfeit some of the interest.

  2. Look for a bank that charges low fees. In today’s market, it is easy to find banks with low fees. Some banks even offer ATM services with no-fee withdrawals for certain accounts or with a certain ATM network. Maintenance, ATM and overdraft fees can quickly add up. According to a study by Bankrate, the average overdraft fee is $33.58 and the average combined cost of an out-of-network ATM transaction is $4.66.

  3. Consider if a local banking branch is important to you. Technology has made banking online convenient and easy. No longer do you have to run to the bank to deposit checks, transfer money or perform a variety of other activities. Even making withdrawals from your account can be done from an ATM across the country and, sometimes, overseas. While many people engage in online banking, the option of being able to drop by a physical location may still be important to you.

  4. Examine the technology available to you to conduct business. The availability of online account management, a mobile app, and online account opening are also important factors to consider when deciding how easily you can conduct your banking business. Most banks have a website and app that allow you to transfer funds, pay bills, check balances, and make mobile deposits. However, not all banks offer advanced digital capabilities including the ability to manage mobile banking alerts or 2-factor authentication.

  5. Understand the terms and conditions. It’s a lot to read, but nobody likes surprises when it comes to their money. Reviewing disclosures can help you understand if there are any restrictions or fees. Make sure you are banking with an FDIC-insured bank. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation covers depositors' accounts dollar-for-dollar, up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category should the bank go out of business. Finally, if you open an account as a part of a promotional campaign, make sure you understand the rules and what happens once the promotion expires. You could be required to maintain an account or account balance for a specific period of time. Interest rates may be lower once the promotion has expired and/or fees might apply down the road.

  6. Do your due diligence. Read reviews to see what current customers are saying. Are they happy with their bank’s level of customer service? Do you see reviews mentioning consistent issues such as hidden fees? Are they a company that seems involved in your local community? Is that important to you? Does the bank seem committed to ideals and values that are important to you? Is this bank diversified in the type of customers they serve or are they committed to mainly one industry? Putting all your eggs in one basket can be dangerous for a bank if that industry takes a downward turn. Does this bank offer financial planning staff to assist you with deciding which products are right for you?

Bottom line, finding a bank that ticks all your boxes will lead to a smoother and less stressful banking relationship. It may be that you decide to have a relationship with several banks to meet both personal and business needs.

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