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If you are thinking of setting up a bank account, there are likely two reasons you are going to do this. The first is as a way to write checks when you need them. The second is a way to save money.
Saving money is what banks were originally all about. People would work hard, get paid and put their money in the bank. They knew it was safe when they needed it down the road.
It was a great agreement. You could open an account and deposit your money, giving the banks some capital to use for their purposes, and in return, they would give you a little interest payment on the money you have trusted them with. Everyone won in this scenario.
Over the years something about this process changed. Instead of being a free service, banks started charging for their use. Some banks would charge you to open an account, for maintenance of the account, for walking in to talk about your account, and nearly anything else you wanted to do with your money.
If you are like a lot of people, this never made a lot of sense.Â Why should you have to pay to have access to your own money?
While most banks have some sorts of fees these days, not all of them are going to hit you with a fee every time you try to touch your money. The key to saving money with bank accounts is to know what you are looking for, and then shop around.
Here are some of the things you should take note of:
- Set Up Fees - Are there any? While some banks will charge new customers to set up an account, this is not necessary and you may want to avoid a bank that would want you to pay to give your money to them.
- Annual / Monthly Fees - You need to investigate any possible fees on your account. Some banks will charge you an annual 'maintenance fee'. Others will charge these fees monthly. Even though it may seem like a small amount each month, it all ads up in the end. Once again, there is no reason you should be charged for a bank holding your money. Ask about any of these types of fees before you ever open an account. Banks that charge these fees should be avoided.
- Checks - Many banks will charge you to set up a checking account, and to get your books of checks, but not all. You should shop around and see which banks offer free checking. Even better, look for banks that offer you free checks, as that will be one more thing you don't have to pay for, leaving more money for the things you want.
- Interest - Compare interest rates between banks. While a half a percent may not seem like much, if you keep a growing savings account going long enough, all those half percentage points could well add up into some big money. You want to also make sure the interest rate is well above the inflation rates in your area. If it isn't you will be losing money by leaving it sitting in the bank.
- Overdraft Protection and Forgiveness - From time to time we all make mistakes, the hope is that it's not too costly of a mistake. Check if the banks you are considering have overdraft protection and forgiveness. Protection means if you accidentally write a check that your account doesn't have the funds to cover, the bank will cover it for you and expect you to pay them back. This keeps you from being hit with check bouncing charges from the business you wrote the check to. Additionally, overdraft forgiveness means the bank will allow you to make this mistake a time or two, without hitting you with a hefty fine.
- Incentives - Bbanks are always competing for new customers. This means they may be offering special incentives to get you to bring your business to them.Â Ask them if they are offering any special incentives, such as a free credit card or special checks and other services.
Once you know what you are looking for in a bank account, it's time to start shopping. In today's technologically advanced world, you can often compare the account basics of many banks, online. As you narrow down your options, you can then go into the banks you are considering and whittle down to the final one that will give you the best banking for your buck.