How to Choose a Bank Based on Your Needs?
Looking to open a new bank account? You’ve got lots of options!
From traditional banks such as Wells Fargo to online banks and even local credit unions, the options are practically endless. So, how do you choose a bank with so many options?
Let us guide you through the difference between traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions. Then, we’ll give you some tips for choosing the bank that’s right for you based on your needs.
Understanding Different Types of Banks
What’s the same between traditional banks vs. online banks vs. credit unions? All of them offer FDIC-insured accounts and nearly the same level of security. Encryption methods are taken by all modern financial institutions to ensure that your identity, sensitive information, and money are safely protected. However, aside from that, there are a few key differences.
Where traditional banks shine is in the fact that they offer easy access to physical branches, nationwide ATMs, and well-established customer service. Essentially, solid reputations are what a lot of traditional banks such as Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo have going for them.
When it comes down to it, that’s really the main difference between traditional banks and online banks besides fees. Traditional banks tend to charge higher monthly fees to cover overhead costs, but you can often waive them by meeting specific requirements. Traditional banks offer in-person customer service, check-writing abilities, and easy access to ATM networks all around the country (or even the world) where you can deposit and withdraw cash.
With online banks, there are no physical locations you can visit if you need assistance in person, which sometimes makes depositing a bit of a hassle. However, due to the lack of overhead costs, online banks can usually offer lower monthly banking fees and higher interest rates on savings accounts.
If you don’t plan to deposit checks or cash a lot, this might not be a problem. However, we’d still recommend checking out each online bank’s policy and fees related to making deposits, wiring money (if it’s even possible), and other associated costs.
Now, what about credit unions? They’re similar to traditional banks in that they offer individuals the ability to write checks, make deposits, and open interest-earning accounts while also having access to physical locations. But, because they’re member-owned, they offer more perks.
As member-owned institutions, credit unions offer those who bank with them the chance to earn dividends. While this usually doesn’t translate into tons of cash, it’s still a nice perk. They’re also able to offer better interest rates on loans and higher APYs on their savings accounts.
Tips for How to Choose a Bank
Assess Your Banking Needs
Not sure whether a credit union, traditional bank or online bank makes sense for you? When learning how to choose a bank, focus on your needs.
Do you travel a lot and need access to ATMs around the country? Do you need to write lots of checks? Are you more interested in a high interest rate or cashback deals? All of these will point you in the right direction.
Online banks will be your best bet for higher interest rates and more savings overall. Traditional banks are great if you prefer access to in-person service and rest assured knowing you’ll be covered when traveling.
Look at Rates & Fees
Choosing a bank based on interest rates and monthly fees is pretty smart. Make sure you read the fine print. If they charge monthly fees, perhaps you’ll be able to waive those fees by meeting a specific requirement.
If you’d like, you can view our reviews of some of America’s most popular bank’s banking fees to help you start your journey:
Check Out the Mobile App
Let’s face it, we pretty much control every area of our lives via our smartphones nowadays. So, it’s crucial that when choosing a bank, you check out the bank’s mobile app. This is, unfortunately, where most credit unions get it wrong.
Due to the fact that online banks are, well, entirely online, they tend to offer fantastic mobile baning experiences with great features. The same goes for most major traditional banks, such as BOA and Chase. Credit unions, however, can lack up-to-date technology that makes mobile banking a bit underwhelming.
Read Online Reviews
The best way to choose a bank? Read reviews of them online! Read reviews on their social media pages, on the app, and even in online financial forums. Chances are that you’ll find someone who was looking for the same features you are (whether that’s excellent mobile banking options, cashback deals, or no fees), and you’ll be able to see how they’ve enjoyed banking with that particular bank.
As part of vetting the bank you’re thinking of opening an account with, don’t forget to ask friends and family for their opinions.
Choose an FDIC-Insured Account
The FDIC definition, or acronym, rather, is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It’s a government agency that insures your money to prevent any losses that might occur when you deposit it into an FDIC-insured account.
This meant that if in the future, a bank were to fail, the FDIC would step in and pay insurance to the depositors (up to a certain limit). Or, the FDIC would send out a check to each depositor for the insured balance of their account.
Regardless of which bank you decide to go with, it’s crucial that you choose one offering an FDIC-insured account.
Choosing to Bank with Cheese
As long as you don’t require in-person service and don’t deposit a lot of cash, an online bank makes a lot more financial sense, in most cases, than a traditional bank or credit union.
The Cheese Debit Card comes with zero banking fees, savings bonuses, cashback, and FDIC-insured. Not only do we make banking easy, but we also offer unique ways to earn more for your money while enjoying other perks such as our Double Cheese reward and so much more.
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