In today's world, every checking account comes with a string of features -- online bill payment, overdraft protection, automatic withdrawals, direct deposit and e-alerts, to name a few.
To evaluate the options available, start by looking at the fees to make sure they are reasonable -- or better yet, nonexistent, says Travis Parman, spokesman for Ally Bank based in Detroit.
Then move on to other factors, such as customer service. "Increasingly, people have hectic schedules and need to bank any time of the day," says Parman. Some financial institutions offer 24/7 e-chat assistance, e-mail communication options and phone services.
And don't overlook the online banking option. Online financial institutions save money on overhead, and those savings often get passed on to the customer, Parman says.