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Finding the Right Checking Account for Your Needs

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Life comes with a multitude of financial decisions you must make on a daily basis. You may be asking how much money to put into your 401(k), what kind of rewards credit card to apply for, or even deciding between a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA.

While making these bigger decisions, don’t forget that choosing the best personal checking account is an important step. A checking account is an essential building block to your finances, so it’s important to do your homework about features like minimum balance requirements, ATM fees, overdraft protection and monthly maintenance fees.

Fortunately, there are checking account options to fit just about anyone’s spending and banking needs.

Finding the Right Checking Account for Your Needs


A good first step to choosing the right checking account is to take a look at your own habits. Do you need to write checks for any bills or rent? Do you withdraw money from ATMs often? Do you prefer banking in person or using online or mobile services?

Answering these questions will help you determine the type of account to choose and may help you avoid unnecessary fees. Be honest about your spending and budgeting, and you’ll be on the right path to finding an account that will work for you for a long time.

Can I Shop Around for a Checking Account?

Many banks offer free or low cost checking accounts. It’s a good idea to shop around and explore your options before opening a new account. Review each bank’s checking account offerings, fee schedule and other services while keeping in mind cost you expect to incur. Also, visit each bank’s website to compare the features of all checking accounts offered.

Many checking accounts promote ways to reduce or avoid monthly maintenance fees, offer additional benefits and some even earn interest.

When looking at your options, make sure you understand overdraft protection policies. You may also want to check the number of ATMs available to you and if withdrawing cash from another bank’s ATM will charge you a fee or not.

If earning interest is important, you may find many interest-bearing checking accounts require you to maintain a certain minimum balance to earn their best rate. If you have the cash flow, investing excess cash in a savings or money market account may be an alternative solution. You always want to shop around, read the terms of any checking or savings before opening an account.

What Should I Look For in a Checking Account?

Icon for What Should I Look For in a Checking Account?
Icon for What Should I Look For in a Checking Account?
With some banks offering multiple types of personal checking accounts, the choices may seem overwhelming. There are some things, however, to look for to make sure your money is working for you.
  • Look closely at the fees listed. What do you need to do reduce the maintenance fees if there are any? It may be a simple step like signing up for e-statements or maintaining a minimum balance each month. Even if the fees are only $5 a month, fulfilling the requirements to avoid the fee keeps that money in your account.
  • You may want a checking account that comes with checks just in case. Ask how often you can receive checks for free.
  • If you need to store important items or documents, does the bank offer safe deposit boxes? You may find they offer a checking account that comes with a discount on the safe deposit box rental.
  • Even if you don’t plan to overdraw your account, you may want to find out the cost of overdrawing and how overdrafts are handled.  Many banks offer overdraft services or other alternatives for covering overdrafts.  Does the bank withdraw funds automatically to cover an expense or do you need to sign up for the protection? Don’t be afraid to ask your local banker questions about overdraft protection options and associated fees if you find the information confusing or unclear.
  • Are there any transaction limits? Does the account allow unlimited debit card usage and check writing privileges at no cost? Would any limits change the way you bank?
  • Your account should come standard with online and mobile banking capabilities. Make sure you use a strong password to protect your online accounts.

What Is a Special Checking Account?

Many banks offer special checking accounts for people based on age.

You may want to explore perks geared specifically for senior citizens who need to write checks more often or high school or college students who want to start their financial journey but need guidance.

dditionally, banks may also offer special checking account designed for those serving our country and communities. If you serve in the military, are a healthcare worker or work in education, many banks offer a combination of account features, no minimum balance or monthly maintenance fee.

It may seem like a lot of work to fully research your checking account. Doing so, however, will set you up for financial success, help you avoid monthly maintenance fees and protect your money.

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