In the U.S. it has become a necessity to have a bank account. Almost all transactions, purchases and even credit applications are designed around maintaining at least a standard checking account. Unlike many countries, where every day items are purchased with cash, America has slowly become an almost cashless society, using instead, the debit card. Establishing and maintaining a good credit history involves the ability to show responsibility through a bank account and therefore is one that is required if you want to pursue larger purchases such as a car, home or even starting your own business.
Which bank is right for you:
Almost all local communities have an array of banking choices, from the smaller more personal customer service oriented to the midsized and larger chains. If you have moved to a town that you plan on residing in for a longer period of time, the smaller bank option might be a better choice. These banks typically have better interest rates and will be more open to lending opportunities as well as assisting in starting your own business. However, if you are unsure of your immediate future location, larger bank chains that have branches across the country would be your best choice. Larger banking institutions give you the freedom of moving anywhere and still maintaining the same accounts.
Kind of accounts:
It is always best to have both a checking and a savings account to help in establishing a good credit rating. Almost all banks allow joint accounts for family members as well as online banking. Many of the services are offered at no charge with a minimum balance in the account. Online banking with bill payment options is probably the best option you can choose, so that you don’t have to worry about mailing payments for any of your bills. Investigate the interest rate offering for each bank for both checking and savings. Since banks make some of their money on additional ‘fees’ charges, ask them to explain any fees that may be charged. Make sure that the services that you sign up for that do not require any fees are not temporary or ‘new sign up’ situations.
Work with a bank rep:
Banks offer personal representatives that you can sit down with and talk to when you want to open an account. The representative will help you establish an immediate account, review the services that are included and, in some banks, take your photo id and get your debit/checking card assigned at that moment. The representative is the individual that can also inform you of any special new account situations that you might benefit from. Be careful about signing up for any of the extra fee related services such as credit monitoring as these are usually with outside services and not directly with the credit monitoring companies that assign your credit score.
Managing your account:
If you are taking care of your checking account with a check book only, make sure you are diligent about maintaining the balance. Online account monitoring gives you 24 hour access to your accounts. Most banking institutions do not offer high interest rates for checking and standard savings but may have other options to choose from that allow better rates.