Even if you only have limited knowledge of financial processes and markets, you know the value of having a checking account – secure storage of your money plus easy access via debit cards, direct deposit and online or mobile access. But, in 2016, checking accounts are no longer standard across financial institutions. Different banks and credit unions offer significantly different options.
Luckily for today’s consumers, checking accounts come with a host of newer features that make life easier, many of which can end up saving you even more money in the long run. When you’re searching for a new checking account, look for these six features.
1. Interest-Bearing Accounts
Interest-bearing accounts sound the most appealing for obvious reasons — you’re making money off of your money! That being said, there are a variety of different types of interest-bearing checking accounts, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
When you’re looking for a basic, free or low-cost checking account, you will likely will have trouble finding one that pays interest. Typically, interest-bearing accounts will have higher requirements for an opening balance, higher requirements for average monthly balances, and may come with higher fees. However, that’s not always the case such as with Northpointe’s Ultimate Account – a free no minimum checking account that pays up to 5.00% APY!
2. Bank Account Fees
Speaking of fees, after 2008, financial institution have been required to be much more transparent with their fee structure — but it’s still not alwayseasy to understand. Make sure to research what fees are associated with an account and be aware of fees such as a monthly charge if balance minimums or direct deposit requirements aren’t met.
There are account options that won’t carry monthly balance minimums but if you find that your ideal account does have minimums be sure you never dip below that amount; monthly fees can reduce your earnings potential. No matter what type of account you choose, always review the terms of the account, including the schedule of fees.
3. ATM Usage
A common use of your checking account may be withdrawing cash from ATMs. However, with most banks that means non-bank ATMs fees. These can quickly add up so consider how often you plan to use ATMs. If you’re a frequent user, find an account that offers ATM fee refunds – like all the checking accounts offered by Northpointe Bank.
4. Minimum Opening Balance
Depending on the type of checking account you choose, you’ll likely have a minimum opening deposit requirement. For most checking accounts, this is typically around $100 but for an account with more features — such as higher interest-bearing accounts — you may have to make a larger initial deposit to open an account.
5. Monthly Transfer Allowance
Be sure to check whether or not the account has a limit on transfers per month. Regulation D governs the amount of transfers allowed per month for certain account types, typically savings or money market accounts. For most people, this will not be an issue but if you are regularly moving money to another accountyou may find that the bank will charge you a fee for transfers over your monthly allotment.
6. Online & Mobile Banking
Did you know the average banking customer visited their branch only 3 times per year in 2015? Today, Online and Mobile Banking are used more frequently than in-person visits to the local teller with good reason. It’s easier, faster and more convenient! Check your balance, make transfers, pay bills and deposit checks from the comfort of your home, 24 hours per day. Ensure your bank offers the types of electronic services that meet your needs including online and mobile banking, but also easy customer service options such as email and live chat.
Modern checking accounts offer far more than simply a safe place to store your money, so do your research to find the right bank and account to meet your needs. Contact us today to find out more about our checking account options – recently rated as top checking accounts in the U.S. by bankrate.com and Kiplinger’s Magazine.