What features are most important in a checking account?

August 16, 2017
You should always consider your specific needs when looking for a place to open a new checking account. One bank might provide features that will benefit one customer but prove troublesome for someone else. There are, at the same time, some checking account traits that are universally beneficial.
What features are most important in a checking account?

Here are the things that you need to consider when deciding if a certain type of checking account is right for you.

  • What is the minimum balance requirement? This can be a tricky question. Some checking accounts have no minimum balance. Some, however, provide additional perks to people who can keep their balance above a certain threshold. By doing this, customers may be able to have their monthly maintenance fees waived or they may be able to earn interest on their account.
     
  • What are the ATM fees? Some banks will offer free usage of their own ATM network. This should be a minimum requirement for any bank that you are considering. Some banks may allow a fixed number of free ATM withdrawals per month. This would be acceptable for light ATM users (people who usually use debit cards rather than cash). However, you should always have the mindset of not having to pay to access your own money.
     
  • What is the availability of online banking and bill-pay services? You will want to be able to control your account and pay bills without actually having to go to a bank branch. If the bank provides these online services, their site should be easy to navigate, and you should not have to pay any extra fees to use it.
     
  • Customer service reviews should be positive. With the right online tools and free ATM access, you will not have to visit a bank branch often. However, if you need some service, you will want to have a teller or loan officer who you feel is an advocate for you.
     
  • Consider all the options. Large banks have familiar names, but there are other choices. Smaller community banks and credit unions also provide checking accounts. Some of these places may actually be more customer-oriented than larger banks.

Your checking account is important, but you should not expect your bank to do everything. Sometimes, choosing a financial service company that specializes in a specific area is the best option. For example, it is often better if you need to borrow money to opt for an online personal loan instead of trying to get a personal loan through your bank.