Checking accounts allow you to keep your money at a bank and write checks against the money in your account. This allows you to have access to your money without carrying it everywhere you go. Almost all merchants treat checks just as if they were cash, so there really is no reason to carry large sums of money with you.
Almost every bank in the country offers a checking account and all differ in one way or another. This makes it very hard for anyone to be sure they have the best account available to them. Here are some things you should look for in a checking account to make sure you have the best checking account available to you.
Low minimum balance
One of the most important characteristics of a good checking account is a low minimum balance. Whenever your account balance dips below the minimum balance the bank will charge you a fee, so you should avoid going below it if you can. If the minimum balance is low, it makes it easier to stay above it!
Don’t pay fees
If you are currently paying fees for your checking account you’ll want to start looking for a new bank ASAP. There is no reason to pay a monthly fee or a fee for each check you write because there are so many banks that currently offer free checking. Also, a word to the wise is to read the fine print on any free checking offer because many of them have hidden fees or a high minimum balance.
It’s always nice to earn interest on your checking account, but the interest rate is usually so low that it’s not worth paying fees or having a high minimum balance for. However, earning some interest is better than earning no interest! Just be sure that you don’t choose a checking account with a high minimum balance just because it pays 1% interest.
Get a debit card
Debit cards are very convenient because you don’t have to carry a check book around with you, and you can use your debit card everywhere credit cards are accepted. Now that debit cards are becoming pervasive, less and less merchants are accepting personal checks. Getting a debit card is fairly standard with most banks, so it should be easy to find an account that gives you this feature.
No Direct Deposit Requirement
Many banks have a direct deposit requirement with their free checking account. This means that they require you to have your paycheck automatically deposited into the account. This usually isn’t a big deal, but if you later decide that you’d like to have your check deposited to another account you’ll have to close the checking account or you’ll be charged fees.
It will be difficult to find a checking account that has all of these features. However, if you can identify which features are most important to you, you will be able to focus on comparing accounts that offer what you are looking for. One of the best ways to shop for checking accounts is to do research online. Make sure you consider some online banks, as they often have the best rates and low minimum balances.