Finding a financial institution to suit your needs with whom you want to establish a banking relationship was generally accomplished by selecting the closest bank or credit union to a person’s house or place of employment. As costs of banking have increased and the desire to extract higher returns on CDs and bank accounts has become more necessary, the bank next door is usually not the best source for high returns and low costs.

Finding the best bank and deciding what type of account is best for you, will require some shopping and a basic understanding of the rewards and costs. The overall approach to comparison shopping for bank services should be much like that of any comparison shopping, look for the right products at the right price. The internet has become the easiest tool to utilize for comparison shopping. Even if you have a lot of questions that can not be answered by reviewing just the rate of return and the fees, you may look directly to the bank for answers and use our search feature to access their offices or web site.

Choosing a bank account to open has become more complicated as banks have continued to add additional services that are designed to make our lives easier. A plethora of different products are available — some plain – no frills accounts, some with complicated features and conditions, some less and some more expensive than others. Because these costs and features of bank accounts vary greatly, it is important to shop around to make sure the account you choose is the best one for you. Many consumers unfortunately don’t even notice what their bank charges for their services and those are most likely unnecessary costs that add up quickly.

Some of the services banks provide may be very important to you based on your needs, while some will have no benefit to you at all. When comparing bank products and services the only relevant services are the ones that are important to your needs. Choosing your bank accounts wisely will provide many of the services you need while protecting your money. But don’t forget, you may be charged for some of those services as well as being charged for services you may not ever have needed.

A good approach to help determine which bank and bank accounts fit your needs is to evaluate what services are essential to you and then make a list of them. For example, these may be services like online bill payments, ATMs and telephone banking, or high-interest and money market accounts. The next consideration in picking the right account for you is to analyze your checking account behavior. Begin by looking at the number of checks you write each month. Then look at the number and amount of deposits made each month as well as the average balance you maintain. Of course, you should review any bank charges you may incur either as part of the monthly fees or just incidental charges that could have been avoided. The goal of this analysis is to determine what bank services you need and which bank will provide you those services at the lowest possible cost.

To help review the services and fees of a bank it is nice to know that a federal law makes it mandatory that before you open an account, a national bank must provide you with certain disclosures regarding their deposit products. Thus enabling you to make valuable comparisons among banks. The disclosures must be in writing and in a form you can take home. The bank must disclose information about the following:

  • Interest rates
  • Crediting and compounding policies
  • Service fees
  • Balance computation method
  • Minimum balance requirements, transaction limitations, and time requirements (if applicable)

If you need to reach your money quickly a savings or checking account may be a best choice. If you typically write only two or three checks each month, then a money market account might be a improve your rate of return. Don’t forget that a money market accounts usually pay a higher rate of interest than a checking account, but the minimum required balance are often higher as well.

Look at any limiting factors such as; the minimum deposit required to open an account and the maximum number of withdrawals or checks that can be written.

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