If you’re new to the world of personal finance, you may be wondering what a checking account is, why it’s important, and what you need to look for to get the best service.
Simply put, a checking account is a type of bank account that allows you to deposit and withdraw money as needed. It’s a convenient way to manage your day-to-day finances, whether you’re paying bills, making purchases, or receiving payments from others.
But a checking account is more than just a place to store your money. It can also come with a range of features and benefits that can help you manage your finances more effectively. From online banking to mobile check deposit, there are plenty of tools and resources available to help you make the most of your checking account.
That said, choosing what bank to open your checking account with can save you money on fees, provide convenient access to your money, and offer valuable perks that can help you manage your finances.
In this article, we’ll discuss what to look for in checking accounts if you’ve found yourself searching ‘open checking account near me’.
Understanding the Different Types of Checking Accounts
Before we dive into the features to look for in a great checking account, it’s essential to understand the different types of accounts available. There are three main types of checking accounts: traditional, online, and second chance.
Traditional checking accounts are offered by brick and mortar banks and credit unions. They typically have higher fees and minimum balance requirements, but they also offer more personalized service such as offer check-writing privileges, and access to physical branches and ATMs.
Online checking accounts, on the other hand, are offered by online-only banks. They usually have lower fees, higher interest rates, and more extensive ATM networks. However, they lack physical branches, which can be a drawback if you prefer face-to-face interactions.
Second chance checking accounts are designed for people with a poor banking history, such as a history of overdrafts or unpaid fees. They often have higher fees and minimum balance requirements, but they provide an opportunity to rebuild your banking reputation.
Interest-bearing checking accounts are similar to traditional checking accounts, but they offer interest on your balance. The interest rates are typically lower than savings accounts, but it’s an excellent way to earn some extra money on your checking account balance.
Features to Look For When Looking to Open Checking Account
Now that you know the different types of checking accounts, let’s explore some of the key features to consider when choosing a bank:
1. ATM and Branch Access
If you prefer to do your banking in person, you’ll want to choose a bank with convenient branch and ATM access.
Large banks typically have a more extensive network of ATMs and branches, making them a better fit if you need to deposit cash or speak with a teller. However, they may charge higher fees for services. On the other hand, smaller banks and credit unions may have limited ATM and branch access but may offer lower fees and better interest rates.
Online banks often have partnerships with ATM networks, such as Allpoint or MoneyPass, which can provide access to thousands of surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. Make sure to check the bank’s ATM and branch locator before opening an account to ensure they have locations near you.
Some banks offer fee-free ATM access at their branches and partner banks, while others may charge a fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals.
2. Mobile Banking Services
In today’s digital age, mobile banking services are a must-have if you need to open a checking account. Many banks now offer robust, user-friendly mobile apps that allow you to manage your account from your phone or tablet.
You can check your balance, transfer funds, deposit checks, and pay bills from anywhere, at any time, making it easier to stay on top of your finances. Some banks also offer mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay or Zelle, which allow you to pay for purchases or send money to friends and family directly from your phone.
Some apps also offer additional features, such as mobile budgeting tools, mobile wallets, and mobile alerts. These features can help you stay on track with your spending and manage your account more effectively.
3. Overdraft Protection
Overdraft fees can quickly add up, and no one wants to be caught in a situation where they’re charged an overdraft fee for a small purchase.
To avoid this, open a checking account with a bank that offers overdraft protection such as overdraft lines of credit, which act as a safety net when you don’t have enough money in your account to cover a purchase.
Keep in mind that overdraft protection may come with fees or interest charges, so make sure to read the fine print before opting in.
4. Monthly Fees and Minimum Balance Requirements
Some banks charge monthly maintenance fees, which can range from a few dollars to upwards of $25 per month. Additionally, some banks require a minimum balance to keep your account fee-free. If you don’t maintain the minimum balance, you may be charged a monthly fee or other penalties.
That said, these stipulations can vary widely between banks and account types. You’ll find that traditional banks and credit unions often have higher fees and balance requirements, while online banks typically have lower or no fees.
The Bottom Line
Opening a checking account is an important step towards managing your finances, but it can be challenging to choose the right bank, whether it’s traditional or online. But by considering the factors highlighted above, you can open a checking account that fits your needs and budget.
To get the most out of your account, you need to keep track of your balance and transactions regularly, set up alerts for low balances or large transactions, and use budgeting tools to track your expenses in order to stay on top of your finances.
By following the tips outlined in this article, you can effectively manage your checking account and work towards your financial goals.