Thursday, December 1, 2011
Which Checking Account Is Right for You?
What checking account is right for you? Financial needs and tools vary from person to person as well as from bank to bank. Just as one investment portfolio doesn't fit every person neither does one type of checking account fit everyone needs; "One size fits all" is not a sound or viable choice in today's economy. Banks understand the need for variety and offer their customers many different choices and varieties of financial tools to choose from. What should you be looking for?
Some checking accounts require a minimum balance and in return you receive several free services such as free checks, lower fees on ATM services or more personalized services. With those kinds of checking accounts you need to weigh that value of the services against any loss of potential income from interest that could be earned if you had your money in a different type of account. Consumers will notice that with each reduction in the minimum balance of a service there is a corresponding reduction in services received for free. Your task is to find an account that balances the minimum balance with the services that you want or need.
Another item to keep in mind is the cost to you in fees that will be charged if you do not maintain the minimum balance or if you exceed the number of set transactions that you may perform using either on-line or ATM services. It is usually very easy for a financial institution to tell you what you will receive for free; however they tend not to brag about the fees you might incur for straying outside of the account you have.
Some banks may provide an unsecured line of credit attached to a checking account to provide a safety net of available reserves to keep you from having checks returned. Although the concept sounds great you need to know up-front what the fees will cost you for this convenience. Is it worth leaving some money in a savings account and being proactive in monitoring your account or using the line of credit and spending beyond your means instead of watching your money more closely?
Do you have to pay extra to receive a paper statement? Do they have on-line access so you can keep track of your account between statements? Can you access these services through a smart phone or iPhone? What kind of security do they have for these services? Long gone are the days when you could walk into a bank and set-up a checking account without doing your research. With so many options in today's financial intuitions a smart consumer should take the time to research and "bank shop" before setting up their bank accounts. A small investment in time and research may provide huge dividends and savings to the proactive consumer.
Sterling State Bank in Minnesota provides personal banking, business banking, loans, insurance packages, and investment options to meet all your financial needs.