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Choosing the best bank for road-trippers

Don TaylorQuestionDear Dr. Don,
We travel full time and would like to deal with a single bank with branches in most states. Can you suggest one?
-- Mari Motoring

AnswerDear Mari,
I'm of a mixed mind in advising you about choosing a bank. I understand your perspective about maximizing the ability to deal with your financial institution on your journeys. Financial institutions with a limited number of branches, however, may offer to not charge you for ATM fees incurred when using a competitor's branch. You also should consider a bank's mobile or online banking functionality.

Ally Bank, for example, has a money market savings account with no monthly fee that lets you use any ATM and get reimbursed for ATM fees each month. The downside is that because it's a money market savings account, you are limited to six free withdrawal transactions per statement cycle. This includes electronic fund transfers and telephone transfers, checks and debit card purchases. ATM withdrawals are unlimited and don't count toward the six free transactions.

I looked at Bank of America's website and found that there were 17 states where the bank didn't have any branches, and seven of those states also didn't have any Bank of America ATMs. Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia, is in 40 states. Citibank has offices in 14 states, and Chase Bank has offices in 25 states. For Citibank and Chase Bank, I used the Bank Find page in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Institution Directory.

Think through what you're trying to accomplish in establishing this banking relationship, and one of these financial institutions should rise to the top of your list.

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