How to Find the Best Bank Account for You
These six strategies will help you minimize your fees, even if you stay with your current bank
With banks' fee policies changing faster than
We spoke with some of the top banking and money experts to get the latest on how to be savvy when choosing a bank account. Here are six of their top tips:
Know your options -- and yourself.
In general, says Today Show financial editor
"The question you have to ask as a consumer, is, 'How do I use my bank?' says Chatzky. For example: "Do I care if there's a teller? Do I want to be able to walk in and talk to somebody? How often will I use an ATM and do I care if there's not one where I live and one where I work?" She recommends the comparison tool findabetterbank.com, which makes it easy to search by ZIP code. Other websites, including Bankrate.com and Google Advisor, also offer free customized searches.
Focus on your checking account first.
"Your checking account is the centerpiece," says
Keep your eyes peeled for letters from your bank.
That's how banks let you know about any changes to their policies that will affect your accounts, says The 10 Commandments of Money author
Don't forget about credit unions.
"They are truly local, unlike so many of the other 'too big to fail' banks, and are deeply invested in the communities they serve," says
Consider your travel schedule.
If you travel a lot for work and need a bank with branches throughout the country, you probably want to skip the local community bank and go with a big one, says
Stay on top of your own account.
When special education teacher
Chatzky adds that people who bank online tend to look at their accounts four times more often than those who bank the old-fashioned way, and frequent check-ins can help spot any potential identify theft as well as prevent overdrawing an account.
The bottom line:
Your banking needs are unique, so take time to think about what's most important to you, then find the bank that offers it. You can probably avoid paying most fees, as long as you stay on top of your account.
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Personal Finance - How to Find the Best Bank Account for You
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