Chances are, you already have a checking account. So why would you need to think about opening a different one?
However, not all bank accounts are the same. Some have special features, lower rates, or offer other benefits you may not know about.
“A checking account can have a long-term impact on your financial well-being, so it’s worth taking the time to figure everything out,” Jeff Kreisler, financial expert and author of Dollars and Sense.
So, what do you need to know before opening a new checking account? These tips from Discover.com can help you select the best one for you.
What Types Of Checking Accounts Are Available?
As you consider opening a new checking account, Kreisler advises researching the various types of checking accounts available. Of course, every checking account will let you withdraw cash, use a debit card, or make online payments. But it would help if you also looked at other types of checking accounts to find the right one for your financial needs and goals.
Online Checking Accounts
Online checking accounts typically have some of the best mobile banking apps. Plus, online banks don’t have overhead costs associated with operating physical locations, so they usually share those savings with their customers. Just make sure it is insured by the FDIC or NCUA.
Rewards Checking Accounts
Rewards checking accounts aren’t prevalent, but they’re there if you look hard enough. Some banks offer bonuses for new customers who open an account, or programs that rewards you for meeting specific requirements. These accounts are a great way to make your money work for you.
Joint Checking Accounts
Joint checking accounts are regular checking accounts shared by two people (or more). These accounts make it easier for couples, parents and minors, elders and caregivers, and more to manage their finances. Joint checking accounts require both parties to be mindful of their spending and practice good communication, so make sure you consider this before opening one.
Those three checking accounts are the most common and typically come with several advantages. However, if you are curious about other options, there are alternatives to meet different needs, though these usually offer less versatility.
Interest-bearing Checking Accounts
Interest-bearing checking accounts are ideal if you want to earn interest on your money while it’s sitting in your account. These accounts generally offer a low return rate and have steep minimum balance requirements.
Student Checking Accounts
Student checking accounts have fewer fees, but some have more restrictions than others. If you’re looking for a bank account for yourself or a child, ask the bank if they offer student checking accounts.
Second-Chance Checking Accounts
Second-chance checking accounts are beneficial if you cannot open a regular checking account because of your credit or banking record. The downside is that these accounts usually come with more fees.
What Are Common Fees With Checking Accounts?
Marc Bernstein, a financial planner and strategist at MWealth Advisors, notes that you should look at any fees associated with a checking account before opening one. These charges, including their amount, differ across banks — and can even vary within the same institution.
Common checking account fees include:
- Automatic bill pay
- Monthly maintenance
- Debit card and check replacement
Some banks may charge all of these or none at all. Additionally, you should also request “a document outlining the fees you’ll be paying, in case you have any questions, and check the fine print,” Bernstein advises. Of course, you can also research charges on the bank’s website or Google.
Are There Minimum Balance Requirements?
Bernstein says that one of the most important questions to ask when opening a new checking account is whether the bank has a minimum balance requirement to start. Additionally, you should learn if there is a penalty for falling below this minimum balance.
Research checking accounts without minimum balance requirements, particularly if you consistently have a balance below $1,000 or you often withdraw large sums from your account, Bernstein suggests.
If the accounts you look at have minimum balance requirements and you still want to bank with those institutions, find a reasonable amount you can maintain each month. Then, determine how much you would pay if it fell below that threshold.
How Much Are ATM Fees?
Do you often use ATMs to withdraw cash? If so, make sure the bank you choose has ATMs near your job and home.
ATM access is a key consideration when you want to open a checking account because the fees can significantly impact your finances. For instance, suppose you need cash on the fly, but there are no in-network ATMs nearby. If you use one as a last resort, you could pay for it twofold. Not only will your bank penalize you for using an out-of-network ATM, but you might also get charged by the bank that owns the machine.
However, when you bank at an institution with ATMs conveniently located in areas you frequent, you won’t have to worry about these extra expenses.
- Summar, Todd. “4 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Checking Account: Discover.” Discover Bank – Banking Topics Blog, Discover Bank, 30 July 2019, www.discover.com/online-banking/banking-topics/4-questions-to-ask-before-choosing-a-checking-account/.