by Charlotte Wood
(last updated August 18, 2017)
These days checking accounts are like toothpaste. You go into any bank or even worse, a bunch of different banks, you ask to open a checking account, and there are many similar products that all just differ slightly. Ah! The key to finding the right checking account for you is narrowing down your options by bank and then by your needs.
You don't need to check out every bank for every checking option. You should narrow down your banking options geographically, customer service level, the variety of services they offer, or the type of banking they offer. Once you do that then you can start looking at your different checking options. Ask yourself: what do you need regarding your money? Do you need overdraft protection? Saving options? Interest checking? High interest accounts? Accounts attached to lines of credit? Determine your financial priorities and ask the bank representatives about the best account match for you.
One of the biggest services to look for in an account, one that many if not most people could use, is overdraft protection. I worked at a bank for a couple years in high school and there we had two primary overdraft alternatives: overdraft transfer and an overdraft line of credit. Both were excellent options depending on what your needs were. Overdraft transfer worked for people who had a linked savings account and would transfer money over for a small fee whenever the account went negative. The line of credit was for people who overdrafted more but could still pay the bank eventually. Both alternatives were solutions to the pricey overdraft fees. Look at your spending habits and consider what kind of financial security nets you could need.
The kind of checking account you need could also be dependent on your work or lifestyle. If you have a family, you might want to look into checking accounts that have savings account deals attached. If you have a high balance account you could investigate interest checking or other saving options. It's also worth it to look into the different packages and plans that eliminate other fees. One of the best ways to figure out what is best for you is to talk to either a teller or a personal financial representative at the bank. It's their job to find the best fit for your financial needs and they know their bank's products best.
While initially, finding the right checking account may be daunting, it doesn't have to stay that way. If you simply do your homework and integrate that with your predetermined financial needs, then you'll have no problem getting the perfect account set up just for you!
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