Choosing a bank isn’t a decision to take lightly. However, most people don’t give this decision much consideration. They might select a bank simply because it’s near their home or office. Although convenience is a big factor, there are other things to take into consideration when choosing a bank. If you’re not happy with your current bank and you’re ready to make a switch, here are seven things to look for in a financial institution.
1. Bank Fees
Fee-free banks are practically extinct, with many banks and credit unions charging monthly fees for savings and checking accounts. Although you can’t always get around these fees, you can control how much you pay. When choosing a bank, inquire about monthly fees as well as minimum deposit requirements.
2. Automatic Savings Options
To maximize your savings efforts, some banks offer options for automatic savings. The bank may round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit the change in your savings account. And for every debit card transaction, some banks will deposit one dollar from your checking into your savings account.
3. Location, Location
Again, the location of a bank in relation to your home or office is important. However, take into consideration the number of total branches in your area. If you were to move or change employers, would you maintain easy access to the bank? Some banks only have one or two locations in a city, and depending on the bank, there may be few (if any) locations outside your immediate area.
4. Bank Hours
The majority of banks open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Of course, if you work a full-time job, getting to the bank during these hours may be problematic. However, some banks have longer hours, with branches opening at 8 a.m and not closing until 6 or 7 p.m. Consider your schedule when choosing a bank, and select a financial institution with hours convenient to your life.
5. Online Banking
If you’re tech savvy and conduct most of your financial business online, you need a bank or credit union with an innovative online banking system. This includes the ability to pay bills online, transfer money and open accounts. Unfortunately, some smaller banks and credit unions have limited online options.
6. Mobile Banking
Do you have a smart phone? Do you prefer managing your bank account from the palm of your hand? Not only should you look into a bank’s online features, consider whether the bank offers mobile banking. Mobile banking is very similar to online banking. But with mobile banking, you don’t need a desktop or laptop computer - simply manage your account from your smart phone or other mobile device.
Before choosing a bank, consider what other people are saying about the financial institution. Not to say you should base your decision entirely on the views of others, but hearing real customer experiences can help you make a wise choice. For example, does the bank have good customer service? How quickly does the bank resolve issues?
There is no way to guarantee the best banking experience, but if you choose your bank or credit union carefully, you can reduce your risk of problems. Shop around, compare interest rates and fees, and select a bank with a good reputation. What tips do you have for choosing a bank?