Once upon a time you went to your friendly neighborhood bank and opened an account that you kept for the rest of your life. But it’s not like that anymore, is it?
Today a lot of banks charge you fees to use pretty much any of their services — just for the “privilege” of keeping your money in the bank instead of under the mattress. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Types of banks
There are three main types of banks: national banks, regional banks, and Internet banks. All offer a basic set of services with cost, convenience, and location being the main differentiators.
National banks in the United States (U.S.) include Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Fleet, and Wells Fargo. They provide access to branches and ATMs throughout the U.S. as well as online access to your account.
Regional banks in the U.S. include Bank of the West, Great Western Bank, New York Community Bank, Rabobank, Union Bank, and Washington Federal. They’re usually more attuned to the needs of their communities, have lower fees, and provide more personalized service.
Free checking — You may need to keep a certain sum in the bank so do read the fine print so you don’t get slapped with fees.
No overdraft fees — Make sure that’s specified in the rules for your account.
One-stop shopping — You may prefer a bank where you can have a checking account, savings account, mortgage, college fund, and annuities, but make sure that you don’t get dinged with higher fees for the “privilege.”
Which one’s right for me?
Finding the right bank for you is sometimes a process of elimination: by figuring out what you DON’T want to experience at your bank, you’ll know what you DO. Look at several banks’ offerings, read the fine print as well as customers’ online reviews, and then decide — keeping your specific needs in mind.
Got any suggestions for others?