Whether you’re just starting on your own or have several years of experience managing your money already, selecting the best financial institution for your financial needs is a critical skill to have. The PennyHoarder.com offers nine tips to help you find the best bank or credit union for you.
Pick A Place Insured By the FDIC or NCUA
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures banks, while the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures credit unions. If a bank or credit union goes under, these agencies will reimburse customers up to $250,000. Look for a financial institution that is insured by its corresponding agency.
Read The News And Check Reviews
You don’t just want a financial institution that keeps your money secure — you also want one that puts your privacy and security first.
As you decide on a bank, check to see which ones have been involved in a major breach in the last few years. If your personal information is stolen during a data breach, those costs could far outweigh any money that is stolen.
Additionally, check out reviews from other customers and take note of any complaints or issues. However, like anything else on the internet, think critically about what you read.
Get Opinions From People You Know
You could also get opinions from family, friends, colleagues, or others whom you trust. Their input could also be more tailored to financial institutions in your area.
Consider The Convenience Factor
Convenience is critical for your experience with a particular bank or credit union. Think about how often you usually withdraw cash from ATMs or your current bank. If you frequently do, you may want to pick a national bank with plenty of ATMs in your community — or anywhere else you visit. Alternatively, you could find a bank that offers ATM fee rebates or doesn’t have any penalties at all.
Generally, credit unions are limited to a specific area or region, which means you won’t be able to access ATMs outside of your state. However, credit unions make up for this by joining networks like Star and Allpoint, which let members withdraw cash from in-network credit unions anywhere in the country — for free.
Look At Rates And Fees
Don’t you want your money to do something else besides sit in your bank account? Of course, you do! That’s why it’s essential to compare banks and credit unions to find ones with competitive interest rates. Credit unions typically have better yields than traditional banks, but not quite as much as online banks.
Besides ATM fees, you also want to consider monthly maintenance, overdrafts, foreign transactions, and other assorted charges. The best financial institutions are ones that have minimal costs and great interest rates.
Find A Place With Ample Versatility
You already know you should pick a financial institution that aligns with your needs. That means finding a bank or credit union with versatile financial products and services. For example, some places offer “subaccounts,” which link to your primary account but allow you to move money for a specific purpose, such as saving for a vacation or next year’s tax bill. The more versatile your options are, the easier it is to manage your money.
Make Sure The Mobile App Is User-Friendly
If mobile banking is important to you, you need one that offers an intuitive and user-friendly mobile app. Check reviews from other customers as well as those on the app itself. Consider functionality and capabilities, such as mobile check deposits, viewing your account balance, two-factor authentication, online bill pay, and more.
As Well As The Website
You want a seamless customer service experience from your bank’s online and physical locations. If a user-friendly website and mobile app aren’t at the top of the list, a smaller, local branch may be your preferred choice. However, if you would rather not deal with in-person service, you might have a better experience with an online bank.
Read The Fine Print
No matter which financial institution you select, don’t move forward with anything until you review all of the fine print. Reading the terms and conditions may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it can save you from dealing with unexpected fees down the road. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take your time — choosing a bank is a big decision, and you want to make sure you know what you agree to.
- Moore, Timothy. “Here’s How to Choose a Bank Based on Your Needs.” The Penny Hoarder, The Penny Hoarder, 4 Feb. 2019, www.thepennyhoarder.com/bank-accounts/choosing-a-bank/?aff_sub2=homepage.