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How to pick the right checking account for you

With all the options out there for checking accounts, it can be tough to decide where to put your money! Many different factors could influence your choice, including how convenient the branch locations are, who your family banks with, who is currently offering a special, and much more. Before making a decision, however, do yourself a favor and take time to make a serious comparison of the details of each account. Each financial institution’s checking account will have different benefits and requirements.

Here are a few things to look for when deciding which financial institution’s account is the best fit for you and your money.

Monthly Fees –Some financial institutions offer free checking. Others will ask you to pay a fee to maintain your account. However, with some accounts, the monthly fee may be waived if you meet certain monthly requirements. (More on that later.) If there is a fee involved, find out what the fee covers. Are you being charged simply for monthly maintenance of the account, or does this fee give you access to added rewards or benefits?

Minimum balance – While some places have no requirements for this, other financial institutions require you to deposit at least a certain dollar amount to open your account. Others require you to maintain a minimum balance in your account to avoid a monthly account fee or to earn certain account benefits.

Rates – Some checking accounts offer to pay interest on your checking account balance, much like a savings account. While it would be easy to look at the interest rate of each financial institution and automatically pick the largest number, make sure you are taking other important factors into consideration:

  • What is the maximum balance on which you can earn the highest rate?
  • What are the requirements to earn the highest rate? Some accounts will require debit card transactions, electronic statements, direct deposits, online bill payments, etc. It is important to understand the requirements and evaluate if you can meet them consistently every month so you earn the highest rate.
  • Are there any fees or penalties if you fail to meet the above requirements in any month? With some accounts, you will not only fail to earn the high rate, you will pay a maintenance fee when you don’t meet the requirements.
  • What rate is paid, if any, on balances over that maximum balance? What rate is paid if you fail to meet the requirements in a month?

Other benefits –  Will you receive any other rewards? Does the account offer ATM rebates? If the account offers ATM rebates, what is the amount? It is important that you know how much of an ATM rebate (if any) you will receive when using the ATMs of other financial institutions. The amount of the rebate will vary with different accounts.

Take into consideration your own needs and money habits when choosing a checking account. Depending on your available funds and spending habits, certain accounts may either charge you extra or reward you for things you’re already doing. By paying attention to the finer details of each financial institution’s account, you’re sure to find the right fit for you.

Want to learn what checking account Scott Credit Union has to offer?  Check out our interest-earning Extreme Checking Account!