Home > Personal Finance > 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Checking Account

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Most people need a checking account to help manage their finances. They help you pay bills, provide a place to store your cash and keep your paycheck safe. Since they are so common, there are a dizzying number of options to choose from. It may seem confusing or intimidating, but it’s important to consider your banking habits and preferences. To help you decide which one is right for you, check out the following features you can use to compare checking accounts.

1. ATM Fees

If you prefer to pay with cash and find yourself at the ATM frequently, it’s a good idea to be on the hunt for a checking account that makes this convenient and affordable. Check how many fee-free ATMs you can use before you commit. Some banks even reimburse you for ATM fees if you use one outside your network.

2. Account Minimum Fees

Some banks will charge you a fee if your balance is too low since they make more money from accounts with higher balances. Be sure to check that your account won’t charge you for this and also to keep your balance above the minimum to avoid the extra fee.

3. Overdraft Fees

We all make mistakes — but overdrawing your account can be a costly one. If you have done this in the past and might do so again, look for an account with low overdraft fees or even overdraft forgiveness.

4. Transaction Limit

Some accounts limit the amount of transactions you can make in a billing cycle so if you use your debit card or checking account frequently, it’s important to look for accounts that let you make as many withdrawals, deposits or transfers as you need without worrying about charges.

5. Interest

You may be used to savings accounts offering you the opportunity to earn interest on your money, but now you can also do so with a checking account. If you are prone to keeping sizable funds in your checking account, it can be a good idea to look for an account that will put your liquid assets to work and pay you some interest.

6. Branch Presence

If you like the option of working with a person and you wire money or use cashier’s checks often, you might want to be on the lookout for banks with plenty of physical locations convenient for you to access.

7. Foreign Fees

If you travel often, you should check that your checking account and debit card come with no foreign ATM or foreign transaction fees so it will work for you no matter where you are in the world.

8. Online and Mobile Access

Nowadays, almost everything is available over the Internet. If you want to be able to track your purchases on the go, look into the mobile presence of your bank. Also, if you want to be able to check your account balance, pay bills and make deposits on your computer, you can consider online-only banks or banks with a strong online presence.

Checking accounts have changed a lot in recent years, so it’s important to check all your options before committing so you get the right features for you and don’t incur unnecessary fees.

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