Whether you are new to banking or feel the need to make a change, there are many factors to consider before choosing a local bank. There are plenty of details that can help you decide which bank and which accounts offered by that bank are best for you — but it’s important to start by determining your current situation, financial goals, existing banking habits, and future needs. Below are seven things to consider before choosing a local bank.
1. Security of your funds
Make sure that any bank or credit union is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (for banks) or the National Credit Union Association (for credit unions). The FDIC and NCUA insure your money up to at least $250,000 per depositor, so you’ll be covered if your financial institution fails but is insured. Do not use a bank that does not have these protections.
2. Product and service offerings
If your needs go beyond setting up a checking and saving account, consider other products and services your bank offers. Many banks and credit unions provide essential loan products, including mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans. They may also have services to help you manage financial transactions like certified checks, cashier’s checks, and automatic bill pay.
3. Interest rates
Interest rates vary from institution to institution. Ideally, you’ll find an account that pays higher-than-average interest on your deposits and charges lower-than-average interest on your debts.
4. Account and service fees
Find out what your bank charges for their products and services. You should be able to find an account that does not charge you any fees for basic account transactions. Examples of fees to avoid include monthly fees, per-check fees, and fees for account assistance. If you use your ATM card frequently, consider a bank that does not charge for ATM usage. Some accounts require you to maintain a minimum balance before they begin charging account fees. Make sure any minimum balance requirement is something that you can comfortably afford.
5. Branch and ATM locations
If you prefer to do your banking in person, your bank’s branch locations will be an important consideration. Check to see if the bank or credit union you’re interested in has locations near your home or office to make banking more convenient. If you travel frequently, you may also want to consider whether there are branches in the cities you visit most. Even if you don’t typically bank in person, find out where the bank’s ATMs are located.
6. Online and mobile banking
If making a trip to your local branch isn’t for you, see what technology your financial institution has available that will allow you to bank remotely. With concerns about the safety of online accounts increasing, you may want to look for a bank or credit union with two-factor authentication, providing an added layer of security to your banking transactions.
7. Ease of deposit.
Even in this age of direct deposit, everyone occasionally needs to deposit checks or cash. Consider how often you might want to deposit cash and how that would happen. Even if your bank has no physical location near you, they may offer mobile or home deposit services to make check deposits fast and simple.
There are various factors to consider when choosing the right bank, including locations, product and service availability, fees, interest rates, and much more. Decide which are most important to you and look for banks or credit unions that provide them. To simplify your search, check out a comparison website that allows you to enter the features you’re looking for and then generates a list of banks and credit unions that match.
- Security of your funds
- Product and service offerings
- Interest rates
- Account and service fees
- Branch and ATM locations
- Online and mobile banking
- Ease of deposit