How long have you been a customer with your current bank? Studies show that most adults keep the same checking account for 16 years. Probably because they think it’s too much of a hassle to make a switch. But if it’s costing you money to stay put, it’s time to jump ship. Here are some important features to look for when considering other banks.
If for whatever reason your bank fails, you want to be able to get your money back. Therefore, it’s important that your financial institution be FDIC-insured. This protects your deposits up to $250,000 per bank.
Avoid banks that try to nickel and dime you for every small service. Banks are meant for saving money, not losing money. So pick a financial institution that charges little to no fees. Some will waive ATM, maintenance and a bunch of other pesky fees, if you meet certain criteria (generally a minimum balance). You just have to do your research and read the fine print.
Do you know what happens when you use an out-of-network ATM? You get penalized and we’re not talking about just a few cents either. On average, you’ll pay $4.69. Do it often enough and it can really add up. Save yourself some money and choose a bank that has plenty of nearby locations. It also doesn’t hurt to budget for your cash needs in advance. If all else fails, you can always make a debit card purchase and ask for cash back.
Overdraft fees cost and arm and a leg and the price is only increasing. The average overdraft fee now stands at $33.38. If your bank has a mobile app, you’ll be able to quickly check your balance before making a purchase so you don’t go overboard. Once you see what’s in your account, you can either transfer more money into your checking or put the items back on the shelf.
Mobile check deposit
Who wants to drive out of their way to deposit a single check into the bank? Sometimes we’re lazy and just don’t want to be bothered. Fortunately, many banks now offer mobile check deposit. Just snap a picture of the check from the comfort of your own home and the money will appear in your account.
Online bill pay
More than half of all Americans pay their bills online. Therefore, you want a bank that’s able to accommodate your needs. Online bill pay is faster, easier and safer than dropping a check in the mail. Just tell them who you need to pay, when, along with the amount and you’re done.
Competitive interest rates
There’s not a single person in the world who doesn’t want to watch their savings grow. So it’s important to compare banks and pick one that offers competitive interest rates. Right now, the national average is 0.07%. Typically, you’ll find the highest rates at online banks. Your savings will grow faster but keep in mind that your money won’t be as easily accessible when you need it.
Email and text alerts
An easy way to protect your money is to set up email and text alerts. This way if the bank detects unusual activity with your account, they can get in touch with you right away. You also have the option of setting up low balance alerts. If your funds start running a little low, you’ll be informed so you don’t make a purchase that sends you over the edge.
Good customer service
There’s nothing more frustrating than needing answers and having no one to help you. We don’t want to press “1” for this option or “2” for another. We want to be able to pick up the phone and speak to a real live person. Choose a bank that makes you feel valued or take your money elsewhere. If you have your eye on a particular branch, search for reviews online to see what other customers have to say. Chances are if most people are having a hard time with them, eventually you will too.