Checking accounts are still used to manage daily spending for over 80% of U.S. households. They are a great way to deposit your paycheck, pay for bills, and keep your money insured.
Unfortunately the actions of a few mega banks has cast a negative image on the banking industry as a whole. The main reason can ultimately be linked to greed in the form of excessive fees.
For the second year in a row FICO found the number one reason that consumers leave their primary financial institution is the perception of high fees.
The average overdraft fee at the 5 largest U.S. banks is now about $35, which is up by 30% since 2005 according to bankrate. Mega sized financial institutions collect billions each year from overdraft and ATM fees alone. This has led to an unfavorable view from the public.
If you are one of the many that wants a financial institution with better intentions there are certain things to look for. You can increase your chances for opening the right checking account by considering three things.
1.Cost of Fees
Before opening a new checking account always ask for the institution’s fee schedule. It will provide you with a breakdown of different fee amounts for the services associated with your account like a wire transfer, stop payment, overdraft, etc.
A checking account without a monthly service fee is a no brainer. Not having to worry about maintaining a minimum balance each month will save you hundreds a year. Truly free checking is getting harder to find although a higher percentage of local banks and credit unions still offer it.
Most banks now offer convenient features like online banking and a mobile app. Finding a bank or credit union that places online security as a high priority is important. Make sure your bank doesn’t cut corners when it comes to keeping your personal information secure. A multi-factor security feature which requires a text or email confirmation is a great way for a bank to keep your account log-ins safe.
Equally important to low fees and online security is finding a trusted financial institution in your community that values its customers as more than just a way to generate fee income. Smaller financial institutions don’t have the same agendas that a lot of mega sized institutions do. Local banks and credit unions focus on building lasting relationships with their customers to become profitable, and not pushy sales tactics.