Today’s checking accounts offer far more options than those of years past. The rise of electronic banking has given consumers more control over where they keep their money, and there are several features you’ll want to consider when opening a new checking account. Following are four of the most important features that you might not think to ask about.
1. Online Access
At one time, you needed a bank close to home so you could visit it for deposits, withdrawals, and other transactions. In the modern banking world, however, such proximity no longer matters. You can conduct all of your banking online.
As long as you have online access to your accounts, you can pay your bills, and conduct other tasks without having to leave your home. Look for a bank that offers mobile apps for each of the major mobile operating systems — iOS and Android, for instance — as well as access via a desktop browser.
2. Opportunities to Earn Interest
Many brick-and-mortar banks don’t offer interest-bearing checking accounts at all. Worse, their savings accounts often boast interest rates of less than 1 percent. It’s a waste of your hard-earned money to keep your cash in a bank that doesn’t allow you to accrue interest.
Some of today’s most attractive banking institutions pay interest of up to 5 percent APY. Even if you prefer to keep most of your money in checking rather than in savings or investment accounts, your cash can still earn money as long as you don’t spend it.
3. Other Financial Products
Developing a good relationship with your bank can help open doors to future opportunities. Your bank knows your spending habits and can review your financial history with a few clicks of the mouse. Consequently, you might find it easier to get a home loan from your primary bank.
4. Ability to Send and Deposit Money Electronically
Whether you’re wiring cash to a friend in need or moving money between accounts, you don’t want to pay another financial institution to send your cash from one place to another. Banks that offer money transfer services have become increasingly convenient. Some banks have their own internal services, while others partner with third-party providers like PopMoney.
Whatever the case, you’ll feel more confident if you can send someone else money whenever the need arises.
You might also want to go with a bank that offers mobile deposit. You don’t have to visit a bank branch whenever you receive a paper check. Instead, you just deposit the check via the mobile app and continue with your plans for the day.
Opening a new checking account might seem like a simple task, but your decision can have a long-term impact. Look for the above factors when choosing a bank for your checking account and other financial needs.