Are you moving to a new home? Do you need different banking services? Or, are you just sick of the hassles at your neighborhood branch? There could be many reasons why a person might be on the hunt for a new bank. Here are some things to think about as you weigh your decision.
This is often the number one criteria for people when choosing a bank. Having a place you can conveniently go on your way to and from work, or shopping is important. With the increasing use of direct deposit and electronic banking, this is less of a deal breaker than it was in days past. The times when you must actually visit the branch are becoming fewer. Some people even choose an internet bank, which they will never visit in person.
Do you use an Automatic Teller Machine often? If you do, look for a bank that doesn't charge for ATM withdrawals or refunds them each month. What is your typical checking balance? Many banks assign monthly fees according to what your lowest balance was for the month. Find out this amount for each prospective bank choice.
Widen your choices
Include credit unions in your search. These days, it's easy to find a credit union you can join, so add them to your list of comparisons. Internet banks may seem unfamiliar or scary, but often offer low fees or higher interest rates. If you check them out carefully, this can be a good option if you don't need to do your banking in person.
Nearly any bank you approach will be FDIC-insured. This means that if for some reason the bank fails, or doesn't have enough funds on hand to cover your deposits, the federal government will back them up. There is usually a limit of $100,000 or so. Signage showing this coverage is prominent in most banks and will also list the coverage amount.
It's great to find a bank that is willing to open accounts for your children, too.
Be cautious. Sign-up incentives may look good, but many of them will be for a short time, and won't be worth it in the long run. Changing banks isn't an easy process. It's better to choose one that will be right for you for a long time.
There are online tools to make this process easier. Websites such as www.findabetterbank.com allow you to enter what you want in a bank, and will search your area for financial institutions that fit your criteria. First, you specify the features you are looking for (from a list which makes it easy to remember the options), your location, and estimated banking fees. The website then presents a list of banks in order of how well they fit your criteria. You can use this tool to either find a new bank, or check out the one you currently have to make sure it's really the best one for you.
One last tip: When it's time to set up automatic payments, you usually have the choice of setting that up through each vendor or through your bank's bill pay feature. Depending on fees, it might be best to use the bill pay method. Then, if you ever need to switch banks, you can do it all at once rather than recontacting each vendor individually.
Use the power of the Internet to find the right bank for you whether it ends up being a high-tech internet bank or the bank around the corner.