checking

Choosing the best checking account

Take a look at the chart below to find where you fit on the checking account continuum. Some accounts may combine different aspects of each of these:

Choose the best checking account for you
TypeProsConsPerfect for ...
Basic checking
-Check writing
-Debit/ATM card
-May have minimum balance requirement
-May have limits on checks per month
-No interest
-Checking beginners and those who will rarely use it.
Free checking
-Unlimited checking and ATM/debit card use
-No minimum balance
-Relatively light on fees
-No interest
-Account holders may be caught off guards by fees in "free checking"
-Most checking account users, regardless of age.
Interest-bearing
-Interest is paid on the account balance.
-Check writing.
-Debit/ATM card.
-Minimum initial deposit.
-Minimum balance required.
-Interest rate is low.
-May have monthly fee.
-Those who maintain a high balance in their checking accounts
Online/Express
-Extensive online/phone banking features.
-Unlimited checking.
-No debit/ATM fees.
-May pay interest
-May compensate for out-of-network ATM usage.
-Limited teller availability.
-Customer service may be limited.
-Students and tech-savvy adults.
Lifeline
-Banks are required to offer it regardless of credit history in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
-Low or no minimum deposit.
-Few features.
-May have monthly fee.
-Those recovering from bankruptcy and others who have a spotty credit or banking history.
Senior/student checking
-Few if any fees.
-Perks like better credit card rates, free cashiers checks or discounts.
-Age limited.
-Students and seniors.
Money market
-Pays more interest than traditional interest-bearing accounts.
-May have high balance requirements.
-May have limits on check writing, ATM transactions or debit transactions.
-Those prepared to maintain a high balance and face limits on transactions.

 

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