Intro: 2017 Guide to Finding the Best Bank Accounts
When it comes to the struggle of how to find bank accounts that work for you, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. There are thousands of banks to choose from, and the bank account offers that you find online and around town all claim to be the best bank to open an account with.
When you do a bank account search, there are a number of things that you should prioritize depending on your own needs and wants for your personal banking.
Since everyone’s situation is different, there is no all-around best bank account out there. Nonetheless, there are some tips that you should follow if you are looking to find the best bank for a checking account, the best free bank account online or the best current bank account offers.
In this article, AdvisoryHQ will look at why it is important to thoroughly compare bank accounts that you are considering before signing on the dotted line. We will then offer our top seven tips to help you find bank accounts that will work best for you. Lastly, we will review some of the current bank account offers and bank account deals that are currently available online so that you can be completely prepared when you do decide to open your new bank account.
Image Source: Best Bank Accounts
Why You Should Always Compare Bank Accounts Before Signing Up
Not all banks are created equal, and the best bank to open an account with may depend on your personal financial needs, goals, and long-term plans. The best bank for a checking account may not be the best bank for your savings.
While there is some value in maintaining a long-term relationship with the same bank, the sheer number of options regarding the best bank accounts out there makes it important to compare bank accounts before simply signing up for one.
For example, let’s say that you have had a free checking account with your local bank for the past decade. Now, you finally have enough funds to open a savings account there.
While your local bank may very well be one of the best banks for checking accounts, in that it doesn’t charge any monthly maintenance fees, perhaps its annual percentage rate for savings accounts is on the low end of the spectrum.
By taking the time to research options and the different bank account offers out there, you could very well find that the 0.5% interest rate that your local bank has for savings accounts is only half of what a free bank account online is offering.
The proliferation of exclusively online banks has made the interest rates offered by various banks more competitive.
Oftentimes, opening a free bank account online provides better interest rates simply because online-only banks have less overhead and maintenance costs.
Furthermore, these best bank accounts almost always allow clients to link one or more personal checking accounts to the new bank account being opened. Thus, there is no drawback to opening a new account – only the benefits of reaping a better interest rate.
Finding the best bank to open an account at will depend on the specifics of your life situation and what you want to get out of your new bank account. Oftentimes, the best bank account to have is the one that will allow you a certain amount of flexibility over time.
In the end, it is important to take the necessary time to compare bank accounts and bank account deals from the get-go so that you can save yourself the hassle of having to open yet another new bank account in the future.
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Top Seven Tips to Finding the Best Bank to Open an Account with
So, how do you go about finding the best bank for a checking account or the best bank accounts overall? What follows is a comprehensive list of the top seven tips to help you find the best bank account to have according to your personal needs.
1. Know Your Needs for a New Bank Account
As we mentioned earlier, when searching for the best bank accounts, it is important to determine what exactly you want from the financial institution that will help you manage your money.
When reviewing bank account offers, it can be easy to be persuaded by a seemingly lucrative interest rate on a savings account. However, if you live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have a lot of money that you can tie up in a savings account over time, that interest rate isn’t going to help you all that much.
In that situation, you should spend time looking for the best banks for checking accounts that offer no-fee checking. If your account tends to hover near zero, you would also want to find the best banks for checking accounts that have no minimum balance and no overdraft fees tied into the contract. Even if a checking account offers a negligible interest rate, the money that you could potentially save on not paying fees and charges would be much more than what you could ever earn on interest.
Furthermore, if you are planning on making a big purchase on a car or a home sometime in the near future, your bank account search should take into account what type of mortgage or car loans a potential bank offers. Oftentimes, banks will offer favorable loan terms to clients who also have a checking or savings account with them.
2. Mobility or Familiarity Determines the Best Bank Account to Have
The economy today frequently demands mobility and requires workers that are able and willing to “go where the jobs are.” At the same time, many people who have spent their entire life in one community value rootedness to place over the potential economic benefits of moving. When searching for the best bank accounts or current bank account offers, it is important to consider whether or not you value mobility or familiarity and connection regarding location.
If you are a person who travels a lot and plans to move from place to place, it is probably best to search for online options regarding the best bank to open an account with. Many online banks offer free bank accounts that allow you to maintain your account regardless of where you go. While these accounts may not offer the closeness and familiarity of a hometown bank, they do allow for flexibility.
If, however, you plan to put down roots long term in one place or community, the best bank account to have may very well be offered by your hometown bank where you can develop a long-term relationship.
3. Learn How to Use Your Free Bank Account Online
For those who do choose to open a free bank account online, it is important to understand the difference between exclusively online banking and traditional banking. The best bank accounts online usually come with a number of perks and tools to help you better manage your money.
According to investopedia.com, “Online banking, at least to some degree, has become the norm for many simple bank transactions. And that’s not a bad thing – the easier it is for consumers to check their accounts, pay their bills and move money from one account to the other, the more likely they are to actually do these things and maintain a more organized financial life.”
Learning how to get the most out of your online bank account is a must if you choose to go this route. If the Internet and mobile money still present themselves as an enigma, then the best bank account for you may still be a more traditional brick-and-mortar bank.
4. Beware of Hidden Fees in the Supposed Best Bank Accounts
Sometimes, banks can be crafty in the bank account offers and bank account deals that they promote. They spend a good deal of money on publicity, and they know that people may be drawn in by the promise of high-interest rates on savings accounts or by the promise of no monthly fees.
However, while banks may offer certain bank account deals that are enticing, it is always important to ask the bank about any and all hidden fees that may be listed only in the fine print. For example, if you bank is offering no monthly fee but, at the same time, has a hefty fee for each ATM transaction, you may want to take your bank account search elsewhere.
5. Focus on Best Banks for Checking Accounts First
According to U.S. News, “Your checking account is the centerpiece,” says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at bankrate.com. “You can always have a savings account elsewhere, and then link it to your checking account. Free checking accounts are still relatively easy to find, although most banks will charge for extra products and services such as a safety deposit box, bounced checks, and withdrawals outside its ATM network.”
When searching for the best bank accounts, make sure you prioritize the best bank for a checking account first.
Image Source: Tips to Find & Compare Bank Accounts
6. Consider Local Banks and Credit Unions in Your Bank Account Search
Local banks and credit unions are often the last consideration for people looking at the best bank account offers. While these banks are smaller and may not have the money to publicize their bank account deals, they are unique in that they are truly invested in the communities that they serve.
If you have grown wary of banks that are “too big to fail,” many small local banks and credit unions do offer some of the best bank account offers, with comparable interest rates and perks to the bigger banks. At the same time, you can rest assured that the money you invest in these local community actors will go towards strengthening the local economy that you are committed to.
7. Be Wary of Bank Account Deals
Lastly, once you have chosen the best bank to open an account with, it is important to be on the lookout for any letters from your bank that may notify you of changes in your account. Frequently, banks may tout promising bank account offers to attract more clients only to change their policies in the immediate future.
Current Bank Account Offers
There are literally thousands of bank account offers out there, and while we can’t review the best bank account offers being extended by local banks and credit unions, here are there of the best free bank accounts online that warrant your attention if you are looking to open a new bank account.
This exclusive online bank offers a unique perk in that you can use any ATM in the entire country for free. If you like easy access to your money and don’t like getting charged for it, then this could be one of the best bank accounts for you.
Nationwide offers fantastic interest rates on long-term CDs. If you are looking to make some extra interest on your savings, then this could be one of the best bank account offers for you.
This is one of the best banks for checking accounts online where you can earn cash back even if you don’t maintain a high monthly balance.
The Importance of Finding the Best Bank Account for Your Financial Future
Taking the time to do a thorough bank account search is an important step that everyone should take when deciding to open a new bank account. By following the advice above, you should be able to easily find the best bank accounts for you and your long-term financial goals.
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