4 Tips for Choosing the Right Bank Account


ATM and bank fees


A bank account is sorta like a long-term relationship, once you are in it, you generally stay with it, but there are many reasons why you may want to switch or add an account; moving to a new city where your current bank doesn’t have a presence, access to a “budgeting” bank, or just plain tired of your bank’s high fees– I feel you!


Most accounts look very similar on the surface but your needs and lifestyle will help you decide what kind of account will be right for you. Whether you are opening your first bank account or moving to a new one, ask yourself these key questions.


How do I receive my income?

Sharree - Staff WriterUsing Direct Deposit will save you in monthly maintenance fees.  Make sure to ask your employer if they provide direct deposit for payroll.  If you don’t have direct deposit, many banks will charge you a monthly fee, unless you have a fairly large monthly account balance.


  • Freelancers beware, if you don’t have direct deposit, you might be charged anywhere from $10-$15 per month.
  • If you are student, you should be able to find a bank that waives the fees without needing direct deposit or a minimum balance.


Check Out Related Money Talk Story: 6 Financial Rules for Your 20s That’ll Make Your Money Work for You

Do I overspend without knowing it?


  • Think about how often you check your current bank balance, or if you’ve never had an account, how organized are you in general of  keeping track of your money. You have to be really honest with yourself here, if not you could end up paying ridiculous overdraft fees! These fees can be up to $35.00 for each transaction! Most banks charge a fee no matter if you overdraw your account by $1 or $100. Ouch!


  • If you feel like you might overspend, your best bet is to choose a bank with overdraft protection. This service will allow you to link your bank account to a credit card or savings account and will protect you against overdraft fees in case you overspend.


  • Another way to avoid overdraft fees is to set up alerts to notify you when your balance is low.  You can choose if you want to be notified if your account drops below $100 or $50.


Haven’t Signed Up For Early Access to My Money My Future? Get the Tools You Need to Help You Manage Your Money with Confidence!


How often will I deposit or withdraw cash?

Who wants to pay ATM fees, seriously? I recently went to an event and they wanted to charge $5.00 to take out $20.00, that is 25%!


If ATM’s are hard to come by in your area, then you want to think about ATM fees and how frequently you deposit cash or withdraw cash. Most banks will not charge you a fee if you use their system or they might reimburse you for any ATM fees —  make sure to ask about this!

If you are like me, and hate to carry cash, and most of your income comes in the form of a check or transfer, then an on-line bank could also work. I also like to make sure that a bank has mobile check deposits to make it easy to get that check in the bank.


Do you want to establish a relationship with your bank?

Back in the day, people would have an actual relationship with their bankers, I know weird huh. Seriously though, it does make sense to establish a relationship with a bank, especially if you plan on living in the same city or community, or if you plan on ever having a business account.



Remember to shop around, compare accounts, and follow our checklist.


When you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask us or to ask your bank.  Outside of monthly maintenance fees, overdraft, and ATM fees you will want to ask if there is anything else they might charge for – the last thing you want to do is pay your bank!