Here we have the second part to our comprehensive list on how to tell which checking accounts are for you, and we have yet more questions for you to consider. Some people open up more than one checking account, which is fair enough, but it is a little pointless if you rarely use your second one checking account. As mentioned in our checking accounts article part one, choosing the right bank for your checking account is important because if you build a good banking history with a good bank, then they will be more likely to offer you credit in the future.
How Quick And Efficient Is Their Telephone And Customer Support Service?
There are two ways to approach this question. On the one hand, if the bank demands that you call them if you want to cancel checks, order new cards, set up direct debits and so forth, then you need to ensure their customer service department is fast, efficient and professional.
On the other hand, if the bank allows you to administrate most of your transactions online, then who cares if they have good customer service or low waiting times?
Will They Allow You To Bank Different Types Of Currencies?
Many High Street banks will allow you to place more than one currency in your account, but each bank has its own terms and conditions. Some will allow you to put a different currency in your checking account beside your US dollars, but they will charge you for the privilege. Other banks will ask that you set up separate checking accounts for the different currencies you wish to hold in their accounts. Other banks will ask you to sign up for a multi-currency account.
Each bank has its own terms and conditions too. They depend on the type of account you choose, or the manner in which they allow you to hold more than one currency. Some will charge a subscription fee (a maintenance fee), others will ask that you maintain a minimum balance. Some banks may ask that you sign up for a premium paid checking account that has multi-currency options as an add on.
How Much Do They Charge For Services You Wish To Use In The Near Future?
Of all the questions in this series of checking account articles, this is probably the most blanket question of them all. Take a look at your current banking needs and consider your future banking needs. Will you have kids going to college, will you be buying overseas property, and will you be topping up your 401K? Consider all the services and accounts you may need in the future and find out if your new bank offers them. Find out how much they charge for those services and find out how good they are.
Look to the future and be prepared to compromise. For example, the bank you are looking at may have the most sophisticated online security, great flexible savings accounts and fantastic overdraft facilities. However, their mortgage offers may be terrible. It is true that you can always go to another bank for a mortgage, but a bank with which you have a good standing (through your good banking history), is more likely to offer you a mortgage and more likely to offer you a better rate.
You may have to compromise and choose a less perfect bank so that you may build a positive banking history over a number of years, which will allow you to receive the bank’s best offers for mortgages or whatever lending services you require.
Is The Bank Worth Building A Good Banking History For Future Borrowing?
Picking up on the point I made above, it is a good idea open checking accounts with high street banks if you are planning to borrow large amounts in the future. If you are looking for smaller loans, then peer-to-peer lenders have all you will ever need. But, if you want a larger loan, a larger overdraft, a business account, or a mortgage, then it is a good idea to open an account with a large and powerful bank.
Your credit rating is not all your bank looks at when they consider your borrowing applications. If you have a history with the bank, and they have had the opportunity to analyze how you handle your money, and had a chance to analyze how you manage your accounts, then they may be more inclined to lend to you. If you have a good credit rating, you can skip off to one of their competitors and get a good deal. But, if your credit rating is on the fence or good rather than great, then a good banking history with your current bank may turn a refusal into an approval.
What Is Their Current Online Reputation As Per User Reviews?
User reviews are often posted by disgruntled customers that are eager to vent. Read user reviews and look for recurring complaints about the same issue because they usually expose the bank’s biggest defects and shortcomings.
Take Professional Reviews With A Pinch Of Cynicism
Reading professional reviews about banks is a good idea, but almost all of them have an incentive to promote one bank over another. Usually, the most popular banks are the ones that pay web masters the highest affiliate fees.
Read professional reviews and user reviews and see if what they are saying syncs up. It is always a good idea to look at a few screenshots of the bank’s online user interface before opening any checking accounts. Screenshots allow you to judge their website’s ease of use, layout, and they allow you to see what functions are available and how easy the website is to navigate.
Do Their Checking Accounts Have Perks That Are Worth The Minimum Balance Or Maintenance Fees?
Some banks charge customers for checking accounts or for upgraded checking accounts. Before you dismiss them because of their maintenance/subscription fees, you should consider if their account perks are worth the money. Some of their many valuable perks include:
- Great APR Rates On Loans
- Enticing Interest Rates On Savings Accounts
- Cheap Currency Conversions
- Extra Protection For Your Money
- Cheap Or Free Travel Insurance
- Robust Overdraft Facilities
- Multi-User Accounts
- Credit Building Facilities
- Share Trading Tools
- Business Accounts And Tools
Do They Charge For Transactions? Which Transactions Will They Charge For?
If you have a business account, then you probably know all about transaction charges. If you have only ever dealt with checking accounts, then the idea of being charged for a transaction may seem a little alien to you. Transaction charges may be added for a whole range of online and offline actions. In addition, you may be charged for depositing money with a teller, or drawing money from an ATM, or for receiving paper statements.
You may also be charged for transferring money from one of your accounts to another, or from one of your accounts to a friend’s account. You may be charged for ordering a new checkbook or debit card, and you may be charged a fee if you set up a new direct debit (auto-pay instruction).
Does The Bank Have An App?
A bank app is more of a perk than it is a necessity. Some banks have apps that are full of budgeting tools, and others have apps that allow you to deposit checks by taking photos of them. If the bank has an app, ask yourself if it actually has any services that you want. Do not choose one bank over another because you happen to like their app unless the app offers a service that you simply cannot do without.
Will They Allow You To Opt Out Of Overdraft Protection?
Many banks sign you up for overdraft protection automatically. Contrary to how it seems, overdraft protection actually allows the bank to overdraw your account. If you opt out of overdraft protection, then you will be unable to overdraw at an ATM, and your direct debits/auto-pays will be rejected if there are not enough funds in your account. How much does the bank charge for unplanned overdrafts? Can you opt out of overdraft protection so that your account cannot be overdrawn?
Are They Going To Allow You To Link To Certain Accounts?
Do you wish to play on gambling sites, use pornographic sites, buy overseas services, or use a third-party money account? You will need to check online reviews and get in touch with the bank before you open your checking account. There is a chance that these websites, amongst others, may be banned by the bank.
In many cases, the bank will freeze your account if you try to link your bank account to such websites and services. In most cases, you are able to make a few phone calls, answer a few questions, and have your account unfrozen. However, there are some banks that consider these types of websites and services to be too risky and so they will not allow you to link your bank account to them.
How Keen Is Their Overall Security?
Are there numerous steps security steps to logging in to your online account. The more steps there are…the better. If it takes you minutes to get into your account rather than second, then it will take an online criminal longer too. If you have to pass through numerous security barriers to gain access to your account, then so do hackers and online criminals.
Does the bank send out notifications when new payments are authorized? Do they freeze your account if an overseas transaction takes place unexpectedly?
Do They Offer Transaction Benefits?
The most common transaction benefit is some sort of reward if you have your wages direct-deposited into your checking account. The bank may agree to waive any account maintenance fees, or they may agree to lower your minimum balance as a reward for having direct deposit. Some banks may reward you for setting up payment plans that pay into your savings account, or reward you for similar payment plans that go into your IRA.
Do They Charge To Replace Your Credit And Debit Cards?
It is a little unfair that banks charge people to replace lost and stolen cards, but we shouldn’t be surprised since the banks are not big fans of being fair. If they were, then they wouldn’t pay their senior executives millions of dollars in bonuses while simultaneously taking handouts from the government.
Is Your Bank Card Going To Be A Visa Or MasterCard?
It doesn’t really matter which type of card you get. Be it a MasterCard or Visa–they are both fine options. The biggest difference is that there are still a few merchants, stores and websites that will not accept MasterCard payments. Some stores will charge a small fee if you use a MasterCard in the same way they may charge you a fee if you use a credit card.
Conclusion – Now You Know All You Need To Know
Our two-part series has comprehensively covered every question you should ask yourself before you run out and apply for new checking accounts. Decide what you want right now and what you want from your bank in the future. Start doing your research and start answering the questions on this and the previous checking account article, and you will have the checking account of your dreams