Opening a Bank Account:
Tips on How to Choose the Right Bank and Bank Account

One of the keys to managing family spending and working on your family budget is opening a bank account with a bank or credit union that is a good fit for you and your family.

opening a bank account

The right banking relationship can have a big effect on your financial future. Using these tips on how to choose the right bank and opening a bank account, you may find the help you need to compare banks and accounts to make the best choice for you.

It’s important to know what you’ll be using the bank account for. Free checking accounts can be great in some cases but not if they don't serve your purpose. Ask yourself some key questions: Is this bank account merely for depositing your paychecks and paying bills or will you use your account to save? Do you want your money to grow or is it really for the main family spending and interest doesn't matter? Knowing how you’ll use the bank is important before you start looking at banks and accounts. Here are some other questions to ask yourself to get started.

Would you prefer paying bills online? Be sure to check with your local bank on whether it offers this service if you don't like writing out checks, licking envelopes, and buying postage. Most banks do offer this service but some of them charge for it (so it wouldn't be part of a free checking account). Look for the fees associated with each feature you want.

This also applies to any free savings account in which you may be interested. Banks should be in the business to make money so offers of a free checking account or free savings account may not be quite what you expect. They may have limits on how many transactions there can be, a high minimum balance or very little interest. Be sure to read the fine print before signing up.

What is your banking style? Do you prefer to go into a local branch where you get to know your bankers or are you fine with the anonymity of banking online? Does your work schedule make it hard for you to visit a bank during its normal hours? If so, you may want to look into online banking services for local banks and one that offers plenty of ATMs where you can conduct transactions such as withdrawals and deposits. It also pays to know your family spending habits before opening a bank account. Do you need a bank account that allows lots of transactions each month or are you comfortable with one that only allows 10?

What else do you find important? Free checking accounts are offered as a way to get people into a bank and get them to consider opening a bank account. While these may be a good choice for those just starting out, they may not be the best choice for you. Look at the fees associated with each bank’s free account. Are they truly free or will you have to pay each month for the features the bank offers? Some things to look at are limits on ATM transactions, minumum balances and direct deposit requirements.

You might also want to consider whether you will be making a large purchase in the near future or if you want to open other accounts such as a child's savings account or a a college savings account such as a Coverdell ESA. Having a local bank may make both of these things easier especially if you are working with a banker that you know. While this is less important today than in years past, it can work in your favor and is an advantage that a local bank has over its online counterparts.

Some banks also offer features that will help you manage your family budget or their own online budgeting tools.

Once you know what you are looking for to help manage your family spending, ask friends, family, and co-workers who they do their banking with and how they feel about it. You may want to also check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to see if there are any complaints against the bank you’re considering. This last one is more important if you are dealing with a local bank than if you are considering a large national bank.

The time you take when looking for a bank and in opening a bank account can have a large effect on your financial future, as well as help you avoid paying unnecessary fees. With these these tips on how to choose the right bank and bank account before starting the process, your family spending and family money management are started on the right track.

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