Opening a bank account is something many of us look forward to! For many of us, it symbolizes the transition from a child to an adult. When you open that bank account you really want though, what should you be asking yourself?
Here are the top 10 questions that you should be asking yourself before opening a bank account. If you answer these questions truly and then compare different banks, you are sure to choose the best account for yourself.
1. What are the account benefits?
One of the first, if not the first, questions you should ask yourself are: “What are the account benefits?”. Now, if you open an account and just use it to simply store money in it without earning any interest or points… then you might as well keep the money locked up somewhere safe at home. I mean, that’s what they did do after the stock market crash and the Great Depression.
Now, when opening a bank account you have to look at what you are getting in return for using a specific bank. What are the interest rates? Are they good interest rates- are they competitive? This is one of the most important questions to ask. I mean, if you aren’t collecting interest… what is your money doing in the bank?
Among other account benefits, we have to look at whether there are hidden fees, special payments or requirements you have to fulfill if you open the account. So, let’s move on to Question #2.
2. Do you need a minimum balance?
Now, this is something people forget to think about sometimes. I mean, what could go wrong if you were below the minimum balance, anyways? Right?
Lots of things could go wrong!! If you don’t keep a minimum balance in your account, then you will be charged money that you may not even have. So make sure that you are keeping the minimum. What I like to do is make sure that when I open a new chequing or savings account, that there is no minimum requirement. Sometimes, you are short on money and you need to take some money out of the account. This shouldn’t be penalized- I mean, you are trying to live after all.
3. What are the overdraft fees?
Again, this ties in with Question #2. An overdraft (if you didn’t know) is when you basically charge your account more than you actually have in it. So… you are essentially in debt to the bank because you had to use other funds.
Now, this is a question you should be asking if you really believe that you are a crazy spender. Spending money that you don’t have is always a big sign of a future financial problem. So, if you don’t have this issue, move on to Question #4. But, if you are a heavy spender and you like to use more money than you have… you might want to make sure you are familiar with how much the bank will charge you in this situation.
4. Is there a mobile app?
Another big question as we move on to a more and more technologically developed world is to see if your bank uses an online banking system. In particular… does the bank have an app? As we get more and more dependent on our phones, it’s just super simple to see the transactions pop up in our bank app and pay back our statements (if we are using a credit card) through the app. So, try and ensure that your bank has a mobile app that lets you track your payments easily.
This is also super helpful so you can immediately see any transactions that might not necessarily be from you. Especially, if you lose your card! Through apps, you can easily notify your bank to cancel your card without having to wait on the phone for hours to get in contact with a customer service representative.
5. Are there branches near me?
When you need to open a bank account or if you have any questions, talking to a customer service representative may not be the best idea (for some banks!). Often, it takes a long time for them to get into contact with you. Try and ensure that you have a branch near you that you can walk right into when the time comes and you need help.
It’s just that much simpler if you have a branch close to you. Especially, because when you are opening a bank account, you may have questions that are better asked in-person than over the phone.
6. Where are the bank’s ATMs? Are there fees?
When you just need that extra cash on hand you often run to an ATM. But, what if there are no locations that the bank has an ATM at? This is key. ATMs never close. But banks do. So, some bank offices that have no ATMs running are problematic when we are in a tough fix. Make sure you have a general idea of where the bank’s ATMs are- and try to ensure that they are somewhere near you.
Another MAJOR point is to check and see what the ATM fees are. Hopefully, there are none. But, if there are, make sure that the bank is not taking a large portion of money for every ATM withdrawal.
7. Are there fees for paper statements?
We’re all just trying to be environmentally conscious- aren’t we? So, why do we still have paper statements coming in when we open that account? See if your bank has a system for you to see the online statements, rather than just anticipating for a paper statement to come in. If you do prefer paper statements, then I suggest that you check and see if you are being charged additionally for this feature. Sometimes, some banks will charge you as they are trying to reduce paper usage.
8. What are the transfer fees?
If you decide to open a chequing and a savings account with the same bank, you may want to transfer money from one account to another. In this case, it is imperative that you check and see if there are transfer fees associated with this. You wouldn’t want to be opening a bank account and then opening another account with the same bank… only to realize that they charge you $2 every transfer that you make. That would suck.
Instead, be smart and check and see if there are transfer fees, or if you have a certain number of transactions that are allowed before they start charging you. And take note of this number. Don’t forget about it! You might just need to transfer a couple of times and then if you forget that you are being charged, you will be pretty unhappy with the outcome!
9. Are there monthly fees associated with the account?
Higher interest accounts usually have a monthly fee that is associated with it. So, when you are opening a bank account, make sure that you are checking to see if you can afford this monthly fee. After all, if you collect interest that is lower than your monthly fee… this account might not be worth it. But, if the amount of interest you collect is more than your monthly fee, you may consider opening a bank account with this particular bank.
10. What other products does this bank offer?
Last, but not least… what other products does this bank offer? You want to invest in the future. You don’t just want to settle for a bank account and do nothing else. So, take a look at what other features the bank offers. If you open an account, do you get a discount for investing in a mutual fund? Look and see what other opportunities there are.
Hopefully, these 10 questions help you decide what bank you should go to when opening a bank account. Let me know if there are other questions you like to ask yourself or have asked yourself when opening an account.
Now, keep in mind that you need money to make a bank account. So, if you want to learn how to collect some of that extra change, check out this great blog post!
Hopefully, this helped you out. Till next time,