A checking account is a convenient thing to have; with the right checking account, you can easily make debit card transactions rather than paying in cash. You can also have your paychecks direct-deposited into most checking accounts. And of course, your account will likely come with a set of checks to write, should you ever need to use them. Before you open up a checking account with any bank, however, there are a few questions worth asking.
Is There a Minimum Balance Requirement?
Some banks will require that you maintain a minimum balance in your account at all times; if you fail to keep the minimum balance, you could be subjected to monthly fees and penalties. The same applies to some banks that require you to deposit a minimum amount of money into your account each month. Ideally, you'll want to find a bank that offers completely free checking with no minimums.
Do You Offer Online/Mobile Account Access?
Being able to check your balance, transfer money between accounts, and even pay bills using your checking account should be as easy as logging into your account online and following a few prompts. Most banks offer online/mobile account access, but be sure to check that yours has all the features you need to save you from making trips to your local branch. Also, be sure that the mobile app is free and user-friendly to save you from frustration.
Will I Be Reimbursed for ATM Fees?
If you need to use your debit card to check your account balance or withdraw money, make sure your bank will reimburse you for any fees you incur. Otherwise, these can add up quickly.
Do You Offer Overdraft Protection?
If you have a savings account or another account that you'll be opening in conjunction with your checking account, be sure to ask whether your bank offers overdraft protection. If so, you can authorize your bank to withdraw funds from your other account if you ever overdraft on your checking account. Just be sure to check the fine print, as some banks charge for overdraft protection transactions. Still, these fees are often cheaper than the overdraft penalties themselves.
While there are many questions you should be asking a bank before you open a checking account, these are a handful of the most important. From here, you should have more of the information you'll need to make a confident decision.
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