How do I choose a Checking Account?

Author: BankFeeInsider     Wednesday, April 24, 2013 12:00 AM

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.  You just may end up paying for that “free item” in fees throughout the year if you’re not careful.

Here are the questions you should ask before opening a new checking account:

1. 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.

2. How large is my typical checking account balance?

 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.

3. Do I want a debit/check card?.

 If you want a debit card, be sure it comes with as few fees as possible.

4. 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.

Take your time, don’t rush, and be informed.   
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