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There are more than 4,000 banks in the United States. With that many options, how can you find a new bank to fit your needs?
It’s not as easy as walking in the door of a bank branch and signing up for an account. You could end up spending more money or getting frustrated by the lack of options available.
What should you look for when you’re ready to set up a new bank account? Keep reading to discover how you can choose the right bank for your needs.
1. Assess Your Banking Needs
Look at your financial picture. What do you want from your bank? You may not realize it, but you’re likely going to need more than just a place to open a checking account.
Do you have a particular savings method for your money? Some people use the jar method, where they put money aside for education, expenses, savings, and large purchases.
This method requires opening several accounts. If you use this method, make sure that you can open up multiple accounts.
World travelers know that it can be expensive to travel by the time you add up foreign transaction fees. If you do a lot of business or personal travel abroad, then make sure you can withdraw funds without an issue.
2. The Types of Banks
Your decision to choose a new bank does have an impact on your community. That’s why you need to know the type of bank that you want to do business with.
Traditional banking institutions are what are called big banks. These banks have a presence in most areas. They will take deposits in one area and lend that money in another area.
If you keep money in a traditional bank, there’s a good chance that it won’t stay there. Plus, these banks are so large that you rarely have a personal connection there.
About 97% of banks are community banks. These are banks that serve a specific geographic area. With community banks, the money you put into the bank stays in your local area.
These institutions are involved in the community and you know that your money has a local impact.
Credit unions are co-ops, most of which operate in a local area. The people who hold accounts there are members. Members get to vote on the direction of the bank and the board of directors.
Anything can happen to a bank. You have to make sure that your money is protected by insurance. The two most common programs are FDIC and NCUA.
These are government agencies that will back your deposits in the event of a bank failure. Most balances are protected up to $250,000.
You can get a sense of a bank’s products by looking online. Bank websites usually list the various products that they offer.
For instance, Farmers Bank shows the different loans and accounts they offer for personal and business use.
You can match product offerings from the banks in your area. If you don’t find something in particular, you should contact the bank directly to make sure it’s not offered.
A bank might offer that particular product, but it’s not something they advertise on their website.
You could be interested in wealth management, but you don’t see that on the website. A quick phone call will tell you if you can get that service or not.
5. Service Fees
This is where banks can really get you. If your balance falls below a certain amount, it can cost you money. If you don’t use your debit card enough, it could cost you.
There are fees for everything. Some banks have a fee schedule posted on their websites. Others don’t make it as transparent.
Be sure you understand the fees for your account and any services that you might need down the road.
Banking should be easy, but it’s not always that way. Look at a map of bank branch locations and ATM locations.
ATM fees could add up if your bank doesn’t have ATM locations nearby.
Does the bank have an app for mobile banking? It’s much easier to make deposits over an app than it is going to a branch.
Be sure to ask about the security measures the bank has in place. This protects you from being a victim of fraud.
7. Customer Service
This is hard to tell when you’re looking at a new bank. There are ways to know if the customer service is good or bad before you sign up.
Call the customer service numbers of the banks under consideration. Note how long it takes to get through to someone. Also, note if you have to go through a maze of automated options before you talk to a human being.
Have a list of questions ready and ask away. You want to know how friendly and helpful the customer service rep is. It’s a good sign of how your interactions in the future will go.
Another way to test the service of a bank is to walk into a branch. See if you’re greeted when you walk in the door. Someone should ask you if they can help you pretty quickly.
Some banks are great to work with because you have a personal contact at your local bank branch. You can always contact that person directly if you have any questions or concerns about your account.
Ready to Find a New Bank That You Love?
It may seem like a stretch to find a new bank that you love. It really isn’t when you put these tips into action.
The most important thing is to know your banking needs. It makes it much easier to find a new bank that meets all of your needs.
Be sure to read the other article on this site for more investment and finance tips.