Guide | Finding the Best Banks for a Checking Account
When it comes to finding the best place for your money, a checking account is an essential part of how almost everyone manages their money.
Unless you enjoy carrying large wads of bills with you everywhere you go or store your money in the walls of your house, you likely want a bank to be able to store your money.
The best banks for checking can offer you an account where you will be able to easily access your funds while not being charged excessive fees.
But how do you know which are the best banks for a checking account? Since almost every bank, credit union, and other financial institution offers a checking account, is there really that much of a difference between one checking account and the next?
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In this brief article, AdvisoryHQ will look at why you should take the time to search for the best banks to open a checking account.
We will then go on to look at the potential benefits that come with the best banks for checking. Next, we will offer our top tips for finding the best checking account banks out there.
We will end by quickly reviewing four of the best banks for checking accounts and the perks and bonuses they offer, including Ally Bank Checking, Bank of America Checking Bonus, Chase Bank Checking Account Offers, and U.S. Bank Checking Bonus.
Why Should You Look for the Best Banks for Checking?
In the past, most people would choose one bank for all of their financial needs. During high school, you would open your first checking or savings account, get a loan for your first car, and later in life, go back to the same bank to finance your mortgage.
Today, however, with so many different banks and credit unions available, it is well worth your time to search for the best bank for a checking account.
It is most likely that the best bank to open a checking account may not be your best option for a savings account or for a loan. Each bank tends to specialize in certain services. Since the 1990s, many online banks have gradually become another quality option for different banking services that you should also investigate.
While loyalty to one certain bank may help you develop a long-term relationship based on trust and accountability, if your hometown bank is charging you an arm and a leg in fees for your basic checking account, it may very well be in your best interest to search for the best bank to open a checking account that offers you a better interest rate, more ATM options, and less maintenance fees and charges.
How You Can Benefit from Finding the Best Bank for a Checking Account
Small, hometown banks many times can’t offer you access to a nationwide ATM network. If you use ATMs frequently, chances are that you’ll see a number of charges on your monthly statement for using ATMs that don’t belong to the network of your local bank.
The best checking account banks, on the other hand, usually participate in a nationwide ATM network which will allow you to access your money nationwide without incurring any charges.
Furthermore, while most checking accounts aren’t the best financial tool to earn interest on your deposited money, there are some high-interest checking accounts that can benefit people who tend to maintain large amounts of money in their checking accounts.
The best checking account bank, then, may be able offer to you substantial earnings in interest over time.
Lastly, no one likes paying annual fees on a checking account. If your current bank is penalizing you with hefty annual fees just to maintain your account, other best banks for a checking account may very well be able to save you significant money.
Top Ways to Find the Best Banks for Checking Accounts
To find the best banks for checking accounts, you will need to know the qualities of the best checking accounts. Below you will find five simple but important aspects offered by the best banks for a checking account.
1. Find the Best Bank to Open a Checking Account that Doesn’t Charge Excessive ATM Fees
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Any bank that doesn’t have branches won’t have many (or any) ATM machines. Assume you’ll be hit with a fee from a visiting bank—as much as $2 or $3—for using an ATM that’s not part of your bank’s network. The good news is that many Internet banks reimburse you for fees charged by other banks’ ATMs. Ask about the reimbursement policy and make sure there’s no caps on how much or how often you’ll be repaid.”
Since ATM machines have become almost a necessity for accessing your funds, the best bank for a checking account should offer you a way to use ATMs without being unfairly charged. If you use an ATM machine on a daily basis, and your bank is charging you around $2 dollars per transaction, you can expect a sizeable part of your monthly paycheck to go to paying ATM fees.
2. The Best Checking Account Bank Won’t Charge Your Account Minimum Fees
Checking accounts are mostly used for covering basic monthly expenses and bills. Since other financial instruments such as high-interest savings accounts or CDs offer higher and more lucrative interest rates, most people simply don’t put more money than necessary into their checking accounts.
The best banks to open a checking account, then, shouldn’t require you to maintain a minimum account balance. The constant movement of funds in a checking account can easily lead to your account dropping close to zero, and if your bank is charging you a $10–$30 fee for that momentary drop in balance, you’re suffering from another unnecessary fee.
3. The Best Checking Account Banks Will Allow You to Sidestep Overdraft Fees
While it is never a good thing to spend more than what you have, occasionally we may be forced into overdrafting our checking account. An extra unavoidable expense or two during the month may push you beyond your checking account balance. However, if you have a direct deposit set up with your bank, that overdraft will be fairly temporarily. The best checking account banks usually have lenient overdraft fees and should be understanding when it comes to the occasional financial emergency.
If you are worried about potentially severe overdraft fees, there are certain best banks for checking that will allow you to open a savings account at the same time that can be linked to your checking account. In the event of an overdraw of your checking account, this best bank for a checking account will simply take money from your savings account to cover the overdraft and thus avoid you excess charges.
4. The Best Banks to Open a Checking Account Should Offer Mobile App Banking Features
With more and more people turning to online banking, the best banks to open a checking account should offer a wide array of mobile app banking features. A mobile check app will allow you to deposit a check into your account by simply taking a picture of the check with your smartphone.
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Since many people may choose to bank with online banks that don’t have brick-and-mortar branches, these mobile app features can make your money management much easier. When searching for the best banks for checking accounts, make sure to ask them what type of mobile banking apps they offer.
5. The Best Bank for a Checking Account Should Offer a Free Bill Pay Option
Most of us aren’t exactly disciplined budgeters, and it can be easy to forget to pay a bill or two. When you have a rent bill, utility bill, telephone bill, tuition bill, and more bills that all show up on different days of the month, it can be all too easy to simply forget to pay one of them. The best banks for a checking account should offer you a free bill pay option.
This extra service will automatically transfer funds from your checking account in order to pay your regular monthly bills. The best bank to open a checking account that offers this service may save you from costly late fee charges on your bills.
Top Four Best Banks for Checking Accounts
If you have decided to forego your local, hometown bank and start searching for the best banks for checking accounts, consider these four options.
1. Ally Bank Checking
Ally Bank is one of the best banks for a checking account on the market. They offer a competitive 0.10% interest rate on balances less than $15,000 dollars. If you maintain more than $15,000, however, they’ll give you 0.60% interest
Furthermore, this best bank for a checking account has no monthly maintenance fees, access to a large ATM network, and will reimburse you up to $10 dollars per statement cycle for ATM withdrawal from non-network ATM machines. Ally Bank Checking is thus one of the better options, especially for people who tend to maintain higher balances in their checking account.
2. Bank of America Checking Bonus
The checking account offered by Bank of America is one of the main perks that makes this one of the best banks for checking accounts. The Bank of America Checking Bonus comes in different formats, offering bonuses from $150 to $300. By setting up a new account with direct deposit here, you may be able to qualify for a $300 bonus.
3. Chase Bank Checking Account Offers
Chase Bank offers a well-known and trusted name in banking while also being considered by many as the best bank for a checking account. This best bank to open a checking account offers exclusive Chase Bank Checking Account offers that can reap you nice economic rewards.
While a number of different coupons are offered by Chase Bank to new checking account clients, you may be able get a $350 bonus by signing up for an account here.
4. U.S. Bank Checking Bonus
Another quality option among the best banks for a checking account is U.S. Bank. The U.S. Bank Checking Bonus has enticing offers for new customers. You may be able to apply for a $300 bonus when you sign up for a new account at this best bank for a checking account.
Furthermore, this account allows you to easily set up a direct deposit to your checking account and has some of the lowest fees on the market.
How the Best Banks for a Checking Account Can Work for You
Whichever of these best banks for a checking account you choose, make sure that you aren’t being charged too many fees and that you have free access to your money through a well-established ATM network. By taking the time to research the best banks for a checking account, you may very well be able to save yourself a considerable amount of money in the long run.
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