What you need to know
Customers looking for a checking account can find many tailored to differing needs. While banks may try to sell you on a particular account by offering goodies such as iPods and gas cards, don’t be fooled.
Here are the questions you should ask before picking an account:
- How often do I write checks? Do you use checks to pay a few monthly bills or for most of your purchases? Some accounts have per-month limits on check writing that can add up to big fees.
- How big will my balance be? Many accounts have “maintenance fees” if you dip below a certain balance. If you are likely to keep a high balance, you may want to look at accounts that pay interest.
- Do I want a debit/check card? If you want a debit card, be sure it comes with as few fees as possible.
- Do I want access to a brick-and-mortar branch? Some consumers like a personal touch that comes from a real teller. Others like to do their banking online or by phone. If you’re one of the former, avoid Internet banks and accounts that charge fees if you exceed a fixed limit of monthly teller visits.