Intro: Finding the Best Checking Accounts | 10 Ways to Find the Best Bank for a Checking Account
When you’re looking for ways to simplify your life or save money, searching for the best checking accounts available with great deals can be a way to do both.
There are a lot more checking account options than we’ve had in the past, which include the new online banks that promise the best online checking account you can find, so there has never been a better time to look for new best checking account offers.
You may think that all of the best banks for checking accounts or best free checking accounts are created equal, but they’re not.
There can be differences in fees, minimum balances, and potential perks that come along with the best checking account deals, so you want to be sure that you know what to ask when you’re looking around for the best bank to open a checking account.
In this article, we are going to show you the key things to look for in the best checking account offers, so you’ll know how to identify the best bank for checking account deposits locally or online.
Our “10 Tips to Finding the Best Bank for a Checking Account” will give you the tools to identify both the best bank to open a checking account in your town and the best online checking accounts out there.
See Also: Children’s Savings Accounts | How to Open a Bank Account for a Child
Best Checking Accounts Tip #1: Review Interest Rates
You may be used to getting interest only on your savings account, but there are some best banks for checking that offer interest, too, if you keep a certain balance — and that required balance may be lower than you think.
Image Source: BigStock
You can typically earn interest with several best online checking account offers for a balance as low as $1.00. Of course the higher the balance requirement, the more you can earn.
In this chart from Nerd Wallet, there are several best banks for checking accounts with interest listed, and the range for what you can earn runs from 0.01% up to 1.0%. Most require a minimum deposit of $5,000, and the minimum balance requirement ranges from $1 to $2,500.
A few best checking account bank options with interest include:
Best Checking Accounts Tip #2: Compare “Free” and Fees
Everyone wants to find the best free checking accounts available, but sometimes “free” can come with strings attached in the form of other types of fees. Just when you think that you’ve found the best bank for checking account use for free, you could be hit with unexpected fees for low balances, overdrafts, ATM use, and more.
Here are some types of fees to watch out for when searching for the best free checking accounts:
- Monthly maintenance fee (sometimes tied to a minimum balance level)
- Overdraft fee
- Fees to receive a paper statement
- ATM useage fee
- A fee tied to a direct deposit requirement
- Fee for debit card replacement
Source: Union Bank
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Best Checking Accounts Tip #3: Check for Potential Deals at Work
This is sometimes a little known perk, but if your office does business with a particular bank, then it may possibly be the best bank to open checking account services for you, too.
This is because banks like Wells Fargo, People’s United Bank, PNC, UnionBank, and others offer incentive programs for their business customers’ employees to choose them. And there can be some interesting benefits you may not be aware of.
Here are some benefits that are possible from checking with your company first before choosing the best checking account deals:
- Access to lower requirements for their best checking account offers
- Waiving of monthly maintenance fees
- A welcome bonus for signing up (UnionBank gives $50)
- Complimentary checks
- Free or discounted safety deposit box
- Access to free financial and banking tools and seminars
Best Checking Accounts Tip #4: Look at Online-Only for the Best Online Checking Account
In the past few years, a new crop of online-only banks without physical locations have begun popping up and offering the best online checking accounts. Without the overhead of the brick-and-mortar locations, they can sometimes prove to be the best banks for checking accounts if you don’t mind not being able to walk in.
You should check out their reviews carefully, however: because of the quick startup and international nature of the internet, you may have to sift through several review sites before you land on the best online checking account from a non-traditional bank.
Here are a few review resources you can check when looking for the best online checking accounts from online only banks:
- TopTenReviews – “2016 Best Online Only Banks Reviews”
- NerdWallet – “Best Online Checking Accounts of 2016”
- The Huffington Post – “10 Best Online Banks of 2016”
- MyBankTracker – “Best Online Banks Awards 2016 – 3rd Quarter”
- AdvisoryHQ – “Best Online Banks – 2016”
Best Checking Accounts Tip #5: Map Out Their Locations
If you would rather walk into their bank when needed and see the customer service representatives in person, then before you choose the best bank to open checking account services, you should map out their locations. If you’re only saving a few dollars, but having to drive across town when you need to walk in, then it may not be the best checking account bank for your needs.
Likewise, if you travel quite a bit, then you may want to consider larger banks with multiple locations throughout the country as your best banks for checking, because it can save you a lot in “out of network” ATM fees.
Related: Opening Bank Accounts for Minors | What You Should Know (Checking & Savings Accounts)
Best Checking Accounts Tip #6: Check for Multiple Account Deals at Your Bank
A bank that you have your savings account with or that you have a mortgage loan with may end up being the best bank for checking account services as well. There can be multiple account bundle options that may mean opening checking services there gives you the best checking account offers.
Besides the typical safety net of overdraft protection through a savings account, you can often uncover extra options you didn’t realize you had at the bank where you hold more than one account, maybe even your mortgage.
Here are a few multiple-account benefits you may find for the best checking account deals:
- Fees waived on one or more accounts at the same bank
- Certain requirements waived for a money market savings or checking with interest
- Complimentary checks
- Complimentary safety deposit box
- Better interest rate on their best online checking account
Best Checking Accounts Tip #7: Review Mobile Banking Tools & Apps
The ability to do banking by computer and smart phone has become the norm in today’s connected society, but the best checking account bank might not have the same types of online banking tools as others. If you want both convenience and security for your mobile banking needs, then you should carefully review the mobile tools offered by a bank before choosing them as the best bank to open checking account services with.
A few considerations you’ll want to review before choosing the best bank for checking account use would be whether they have a good online interface you can access from your computer, what type of app they have, and whether it is usable on both iPhone and Android interfaces.
Here are a few resources you can use when looking for the best online checking accounts with great mobile apps:
- Forbes – “The Best Mobile Banking Apps”
- MagnifyMoney – “Best and Worst Mobile Banking Apps”
- Bank Director – “The Best Mobile Banking Apps”
- Investopedia – “What Are The Best Mobile Banking Apps?”
Best Checking Accounts Tip #8: Check Evening & Weekend Hours
If you’re choosing the best bank for checking account use that has a physical location, you’ll also want to review the hours they’re open. It’s definitely no fun to rush to your bank after work, only to arrive right after it’s closed. Some banks can close as early as 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, while others have extended hours past 5:00 p.m. If you’d like to go in on a Saturday and actually talk to someone about your banking, then you should also consider weekend hours when finding the best bank to open a checking account.
Best Checking Accounts Tip #9: Review Safeguards and Alerts
In today’s more distracted age, with a constant stream of information coming at us at record speed, it’s easier than it used to be to accidentally overdraw your account. If you’ve had this happen, then you know that not having the best online checking account alerts can mean hefty non-sufficient funds penalties that just make matters worse.
A good criterion in your search for the best bank for checking account is how well they alert customers to a low balance before hitting an overdraft fee. Many banks will have alerts that can either text or email you if your account hits your pre-designated alert balance. This is an important feature for any of the best free checking accounts you might be looking at.
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Best Checking Accounts Tip #10: Review the Bank’s Customer Service
No matter how great the deals are with the best checking account offers you’ve found, if the bank doesn’t have good customer service, it can be necessary to look elsewhere. If you have to continually wait on hold or go through a maze of “press one, press two” options only to get hung up on at the end, it can totally negate any other benefit offered by the bank.
The best banks for checking accounts have friendly and responsive cutomer support, whether you walk into one of their locations or choose the online-only option for the best online checking account. You will not want to skip looking over review sites and specifically looking for customer service mentions by reviewers to see if a bank is considered one of the best banks for checking accounts based upon their customer support.
Here are a few sites you can use to find bank reviews:
The Best Checking Accounts in 2017 | Review
While there are several considerations when searching for the best checking account bank for your needs, most of them come down to value and convenience.
We suggest that you go through these 10 tips for finding the best bank for checking account services and put them in order from the most important consideration to least important for your personal and family needs. This will give you a good base to use for evaluation.
Once you’ve put the options in order of what they mean to you, it will be easier to go through and rate the best banks for checking accounts by how well they score on each of your most important considerations.
As mentioned, talking to the company you work for or your mortgage-holding bank can also open up new best bank for checking account options that you didn’t know existed, sincer they’re not as easily found online. Be sure to take advantage of any extra perks you can!
Whether you’re looking for the best online checking account deals from an online-only bank, best free checking accounts with as low a balance as possible, or the most convenient weekend hours from one of the traditional best banks for checking, if you follow our tips when doing your evaluation, the time you take should be well worth it in the money you’ll save, and they should help you identify the very best checking account deals for you and your family.
Read More: Types of Bank Accounts | What You Should Know Before Opening an Account
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