Have you been tired of paying service charges at the bank? Are fees eating away at your limited income? Maybe it’s time to start “shopping” for a brand new bank. Here are a few things that you might want to consider when comparing banks.
· Look at what exactly is being offered from each competitor. Comparison-shop so you don’t have to pay more than you have to. Does your current bank offer free checking accounts but charge to get a debit card? What does the competitor offer for free?
· Can you avoid the very least balance fee if you have direct deposit or electronic statements? Many banks do not charge if most of your own transactions are electronic. Having your examine direct deposited into your account is a superb example of that kind of transaction. Getting your statements electronically sometimes eliminates month-to-month or annual fees.
· Many banks charge minimum balance fees to help cover expenses, so perhaps you should consider a “no frills” checking account. This type of account is a basic account that may limit the number of checks your own write each month or perhaps limit the amount of ATM/debit card transactions each month. Intended for someone who does not use his/her account very much, this might be a great choice to simplify your account and save you some cash.
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· Are you in an account that pays you interest but you often seem to be charged a monthly fee because you can’t maintain the minimum balance? With the low interest rates being paid out on accounts these days, it might be better to choose a free account that pays simply no interest or even a smaller interest account that does not have fees connected with it. Similarly, it may be better to leave the particular minimum amount in one account to avoid a monthly fee than to transfer it into an account that is having to pay a minimal interest rate.
· Understand what you can lose if you do not meet all the conditions and terms of the account. Read all of the information regarding the account you are considering, including the fine print, and ask questions if you are unclear. Consuming an extra few minutes will hopefully help you save from being surprised late simply by fees or account limitations you might have avoided.
· Ask how the bank calculates the account balance for factors like meeting a required minimum. Every bank is different. While some will charge in case you go below the minimum at any point during the month, others will charge only when your average daily balance falls below the minimum balance.
· Pay attention to the communications you get from your financial institution. This will help you avoid possible unforeseen costs to your accounts. It doesn’t matter if you check your balance online or make use of paper statements. Balancing your checkbook on a regular basis will help avoid overdraft charges from mistakes of not writing things in your checkbook or transposing numbers by accident. Also, it will notify you to fees that your bank might start charging that you may have forgotten regarding or didn’t notice in the mailings from your bank.
· If overdrafts are a common occurrence with your account, look for a bank that offers alternatives for example drafting from a savings account to avoid the top overdraft fees or maybe an overdraft line of credit, which is a loan that is automatically triggered if there is a shortfall within your checking account. If things are really restricted at the moment and you are facing an immediate cash crunch, perhaps talking along with your bank about a small loan to hide those expenses might be an option. Several banks also offer free financial counseling to help you assess your spending habits and determine why you have consistent overdrafts. They may be able to provide guidance that will help you avoid overdrafts by getting your financial life straightened out.
· Does the bank charge ATM charges? How often do you use the CREDIT? Can you do a debit transaction instead of getting cash from an ATM? There are many ways to avoid ATM costs, and it’s best to know your options.
Buying new bank is not hard but it will be time-consuming so get yourself organized before you start. Know which banking features would be the most important to you and then do a price comparison between a couple of banks and/or credit unions. When shopping for a new bank, take into consideration its location plus ease of getting there during business hours. Also consider its various other features that might make your life easier. And finally, what sort of atmosphere do you want from your banking experience? Do you like the “feel” of a smaller local bank or credit partnership where the employees know your name and are on a more personal degree? Or, do you prefer a large financial institution that has more locations and much less interaction with the employees because you do everything electronically? Not every bank will be the right bank for you so take some time and choose wisely. Your decision could save you profit the long run.