Checking Choices: Things To Consider When Choosing Your Checking Account

Posted on: 4 September 2015

Opening a checking account is more confusing than ever. People used to go to the bank and simply open the only type of account available. These days, people have so many options for each thing they do. While options can be helpful, they also make it harder to decide what is actually necessary. If you want to open a checking account but have no idea what you're looking for, here are some considerations for choosing your account type.

Minimum balances

If you live paycheck to paycheck like three-quarters of the American population, you probably don't want to open a checking account that requires a minimum balance. When you look through the account options, they will state whether you need a minimum balance or not. If you go under the minimum balance, you will receive a fee from the bank.

Overdraft fees

Different banks do overdraft fees differently. An overdraft fee is a fee that the bank charges you if your bank account becomes negative. Sometimes a purchase will take a day or more to come out of your bank account. If you overspend, your account could become negative a few days after your shopping trip. You won't only receive one overdraft fee, either. You will receive one for each purchase after you hit a negative balance. If you can, pick an account that offers lower overdraft fees or overdraft protection.

Limited checking

Some accounts might have a limit on check writing. If they do, you'll receive a fee for writing too many checks. If you write several checks a month, you want to make sure you don't accidentally get this type of account. Look for accounts that advertise unlimited checks.

Maintenance fees

Some checking accounts have maintenance fees. This means that the bank will automatically withdraw a small fee from your account every month for maintaining your checking account for you. If your checking account has a lot of perks, the maintenance fee might be worth it to you; however, if you have trouble scrounging up enough cash to pay your bills, you don't want to hand over a few bucks to your bank every month.

Online bill pay

If you pay most of your bills online, look for accounts that offer free online bill pay. With online bill pay, you can use your bank's web site to set up all of your reoccurring bill payments. This will save you time because you won't have to get on every website for every bill you pay and pay them individually every month. Simply set up the accounts and pick the date you want each bill to come out of your checking account.

Debit card rewards

If you plan to use your bank card for most of your purchases, look for checking accounts that offer rewards for using your debit card. Some accounts offer cash back for using your card at certain stores or spending a certain amount each month. If you are using your card anyway, you might as well get some extra cash out of it.

Debit card discounts

Another perk some checking accounts might offer is discounts from using your debit card. You can go on your bank website and see which discounts are being offered at the time. For example, it might have you click to activate a certain percent off at a certain store for the month. Once you use the card, your bank will put the difference back in your account for using the discount.

Every checking account is different, and these are just some of the factors to consider while making your decision. If the bells and whistles are something that will benefit you, then pick them. If you're paying extra fees to get perks you most likely won't even use, pass and find something that works better for your lifestyle.

Visit sites like to learn more about options that might come with a new checking account.


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