One of the latest trends in checking accounts for consumers is making it increasingly more difficult to choose a great checking account. Bankrate.com, a financial research company, found recently that the amount of U.S. checking accounts that are free has dropped to 39 percent, compared to 45 percent one year ago.
What to Look For:
So how do you go about choosing a the best checking account for your needs? Here are several tips:
1. Go over their fee plan and consider your own needs
It is very common for banks to charge a fee for having a checking account with them, although this fee can be circumvented in some cases, like if you have direct deposit going into the account. Another common fee for banks to charge is a minimum balance fee. If you tend to be someone who keeps pretty close to a zero balance at certain times of the month, then you probably want an account that does not have a minimum balance fee.
2. Examine the bank’s overdraft system
Most banks automatically sign you up for overdraft protection and then charge you a high fee when you overdraw your account. Find out if you can opt out of this protection if you don’t want it. A few banks will attach a line of credit to your account so that if you do overdraw your account, you’re charged interest on what you borrow rather than a large general overdraft fee. The result is pennies rather than dollars in fees. If this sort of system is helpful to you, then you may want to look for a bank that offers this service instead of a standard overdraft system.
3. Consider how important location is to you
Those who are paid with paper checks rather than direct deposit will definitely need a bank branch located nearby. This does limit your options, but it becomes easy for you to deposit paper checks right into your account. On the other hand, if you hardly ever receive a paper check, you may find a better bank located elsewhere that offers easy access to your account online.
4. Are your bank’s ATMs close to you?
The fees for accessing an ATM belonging to a bank that you do not do business with are at an all-time high, so if you use the ATM frequently, you should find a bank with plenty of ATM locations near you.
5. Check out any mobile apps the bank offers
There is a growing number of mobile apps offered by banks that make it easy to access your account via your mobile phone. Some of these apps are as simple as offering a way to check your account balance and transfer money, while others provide a way for you to deposit checks into your account via your mobile phone.
It Pays to Shop Around
It’s virtually impossible to live in today’s world without a checking account, but thankfully consumers have plenty of options when it comes to banks. It’s not uncommon to have different types of accounts at different banks, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself with a savings account at one bank and a checking account at another. Savvy consumers know how important it is to shop around, and the same is true for checking accounts. Take advantage of the high volume of options that are available and find the checking account that suits your needs perfectly.
What checking account do I recommend?
Well, upon review I find the EverBank® Yield Pledge® checking account to be a great option–given that it provides a yield in the top 5% of the competitor’s accounts, requires only $1,500 initial deposit, doesn’t charge fees for mobile/online banking, and it’s FDIC insured. Plus they are an award winning bank with great stability. Oh yeah, they also offer a great money market account.