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What to Look for in a Checking Account

Published May 15, 2019

By Jordan Ottaway

You’re wanting to open up a new checking account. Should be easy. You’ll walk into the closest branch, open the account, and make your first deposit. That simple, right?

Well…not quite. While it is easy to open up a checking account, choosing the right account for your lifestyle will require a little more thought.

There are many different features of a checking account like rewards, fees, access to ATM fee refunds, and other benefits or requirements. You should always be looking at what the account offers before signing up.

Ask yourself about your current banking habits, what benefits and features would you like to have in your next checking account, and what made you want to close your previous one?

If you’re not sure where to begin, these questions might help.

 man standing in front of ATM machine

Do I carry high balances?

If you tend to carry thousands of dollars in your checking account, then a high-yield account is the route you should consider. These accounts normally have no fees, low fees, or ways you can reduce—and even eliminate—your monthly fees.

The way to earn the higher interest rate is by maintaining a minimum balance, or by meeting certain usage criteria like number of transactions, having a direct deposit, etc.

Now if you don’t carry a high balance, then you want to look for an account that’s:

  • Free
  • Has low monthly maintenance fees
  • Offers ways to avoid fees.

 

Did a bank previous close my checking account?

If you’ve had a little trouble in the past and have been flagged by ChexSystems, a service that tracks people whose checking accounts were involuntarily closed, then consider looking into a second-chance checking account. These accounts are great for helping you get back in good standing with your financial institution and to rebuild your savings.

However, since it is a second-chance account, you might have to pay a higher-than-normal fee or maintain a minimum balance. Typically, after six months to a year of your account being in good standing, you can upgrade to the checking account of your choice.

 

Do I want a little extra protection?

While the funds you have in a financial institution are insured up to $250,000, there are accounts that have features that can give you more protection when it comes to your identity and card security.

Look for account features that help with identity protection and wallet replacement. These are great tools to have since identity theft is a real threat to many people.

Searching for the right checking account doesn’t have to be a grueling process. Take time to research the account that helps you live your life to the fullest and better financial position

Headshot of Jordan Ottaway
Jordan Ottaway contributed to the Neighborhood Credit Union blog from 2016 - 2019.