Some people may not give much thought to where they do their banking, but much like no two account holders are the same, no two banks are the same, either. That reality only highlights the importance men and women must place on finding a bank that best suits their particular needs.
In banking, what's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. Individuals hoping to find the best bank for their needs can consider a host of factors before deciding just where it is they will be depositing their money in the years to come.
• Accessibility: Accessibility is many individuals' biggest priority when it comes to finding a bank. Large banks tend to have more local branches and ATMs, and such banks tend to be in more regions of the country as well. Men and women who travel for business or even young people who go to school away from home may want to find a bank with a more national presence, as that can make it easier to deposit and withdraw money. If you don't travel much and only seem to withdraw money within your community, then a smaller, local bank, which should be able to offer the same direct deposit services as its larger competitors, may be what you're looking for.
• Capability: Some people prefer to have all of their financial needs catered to by the same bank. This means a bank that can manage your investments, provide a line of credit and secure home, vehicle or education loans. Larger banks tend to offer the widest array of services, and such banks also may have more advanced technology that makes it easier to manage all of your accounts. Smaller banks may be just as versatile with regard to their capabilities, so don't judge a book by its cover.
• Balances: Banks typically require account holders maintain a minimum balance on both their checking and savings accounts. If you think it may be difficult for you to maintain a higher balance, find a bank that offers accounts with a low minimum balance so you don't end up paying penalties just to spend your own money.
• Fees: Even accounts that are advertised as "free" tend to come with fees that are listed in the fine print. For example, a "free" checking account may only be free if account holders maintain a minimum balance of $1,000 or more. Should that balance dip below the predetermined minimum, account holders are then subject to costly fees. Overdraft fees, in which account holders are charged a substantial fee if they do not have enough money in their accounts to cover their purchases, are another potentially costly problem for men and women who are not accustomed to monitoring their balances closely. Before opening an account, learn if there are any fees associated with it, and what's the best way to avoid paying those fees, such as using only ATMs affiliated with your bank or purchasing overdraft protection that covers you in the case of an overdraft.
Choosing a bank is an important decision, and identifying your needs is a great way to make the best decision possible.