Choosing where to bank must never be a decision taking in the moment, and must be carefully thought about! It can be quite a herculean task choosing where to bank, especially when there are thousands of banks to choose from in the United States. Whichever bank(s) you settle on can make or mar your financial aspirations. If you are a new immigrant or international student in the United States, selecting a bank is one of the most important financial decisions you will make. This blog post aims to highlight 5 important things to look out for when choosing a bank.
Fees - Banks rely heavily on extra fees to make more money. Monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, and ATM transaction fees are among the many fees various banks utilize. Before subscribing to any bank and opening an account, you may want to make an inquiry on their fee schedule and policy in order not to be unpleasantly surprised by any automatic deductions.
Location - Are you always on the road? Do you prefer in-person visits to the bank? Do you foresee yourself using the ATM regularly? Depending on your personal preference, you may find it either convenient or not to have a bank located within a mile’s walk. Also, it is important to note that bigger banks tend to have various branches across the nation, as opposed to the smaller banks which have sparsely spread out branches.
Minimum Balance Requirement - Some banks have a minimum balance requirement that their clients must meet, if not, may trigger a fee. For example, upon attaining the age of 23, Bank of America will begin charging monthly maintenance fees if the client does not meet a certain average monthly balance or the $250 required direct deposit from a third party. While some of these minimum balance requirements can be waived and negotiated at certain times like during the current economic crisis (COVID-19), it will be best and in your own interest to select a bank whose requirements won’t put you in a dire situation.
Security - You will want to make sure that your money is secure and safe in the bank. As such, you will need to ensure that you use a bank that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). That way, your money is reimbursed in the event your bank files for bankruptcy. However, it is important to note that depending on the type of account, the FDIC will insure up to $250,000.00.
Services Offered - To be able to choose the right bank, you first need to be confident in the banking experience you so desire. Are you looking for a checking or savings account? Do you prefer online banking or will rather walk-in. If you are heavily leaning towards online banking, you will want to make sure that the bank you finally settle on allows you to check your statements online, make transfers between accounts, and enroll in automatic payments with no casualties. Various banks offer different services, some of which come at a fee, so you will want to check before making a decision on which bank to affiliate yourself with.
Choosing where to bank must never be underestimated and should not be a decision you take on impulse. Perform online research, talk to bank representatives and get reviews from friends and family before making this crucial financial decision.
Where do you bank? What has your banking experience in America been like? Will you recommend your bank to a new immigrant or foreign student? What questions do you have on banking in America? Do not hesitate to share your experience with us by leaving a comment or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org