There is a lot of hype around choosing a bank these days. Lots of promotions and other corporate-like strategies to induce you to give a particular bank your money. But be careful - many of the larger banks that offer free checking, free online bill pay, free this and free that have the worst customer service around. The following is just a simple checklist for choosing a bank; what to do and how to do it.

  • Make Sure the Bank is FDIC Insured
    This almost goes without saying, however it is only prudent to be absolutely sure of it. If someone were to rob the bank, etc. you want to be positive that your money is safe.
  • Get a Comprehensive Rate Sheet
    Most banks will have a leaflet sized sheet that explains all of the fees, etc that are charged by the bank for the particular type of account you are interested in opening. Just go through each one, and ask all of your questions. Even if they claim the account is “free” I guarantee there are fees; fees that could be outrageous like $35-$40 NSF fees, daily charges for a negative balance, etc.
  • Ask For a Line of Credit
    More specifically, ask for a line of credit that automatically covers any overspending you might accidentally do. I have a $5,000 line of credit at my bank directly tied to my personal account, just for such occurrences.
  • Ask About Online Services
    Nothing compares to free online bill pay. The ability to send out checks and online payments from the comfort of your home without any or cost is worth tons. Also, being able to go back and view a check image to find out why you spent that money is great as well.
  • Ask About Interest Bearing Checking Accounts
    It isn’t done all that often, but sometimes you can even get better than a free checking account - an interest bearing free checking account. Enough said.
  • Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
    Find out who the highest ranking employee is at the branch office you will be doing business with. Talk to him/her personally and starting building a relationship. When it comes time to get that loan for business or a house, etc. they will come in very handy. I know the the VP at one of the local banks I do business with, and he has already put me on to a good commercial loan (blanket loan, that I wasn’t able to find elsewhere) for two duplexes specifically for rental income.
  • Stick with a Local Bank
    Don’t go with a national chain. You won’t be able to make connections with decision making employees, and you will be treated like a number. I just got away from a national chain bank and I am relieved beyond words.

Comments? Questions? More ideas? Please leave them at the bottom of the page.

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