If you've been to a shopping mall lately, you've probably
discovered two different banks within a few feet of each
other. Go inside the food store in that shopping plaza
and you'll see yet another one, just waiting to offer their
services to you. Now drive down the road a few blocks and
you'll probably see yet another bank on the corner. With
all the banks to choose from these days, it can be
too much. How do you know who is reputable and what will
serve your purposes?
It's actually very simple. Make a list of what you want
from a bank and choose only two or three of the ones you've
heard good things about. Banks are often places that your
friends and families will have strong opinions about- so
listen to them. If they rave about one and rant about
another, you will know where to stay away from. Make sure
to take their advice with a grain of salt though, so you
don't sign up right away. First, you need to find out all
that they offer so you can make an informed decision.
Enrolling with a bank may not seem like a big decision, but
it is. Think about it, changing banks is not something
people want to do often. And it's not something that is
particularly easy or fun to do. You'll want to start with a
good bank and stay with them for many years - if not for the
rest of your life. You'll probably be using a debit card,
credit card, loan and various other services with your bank,
so choose wisely.
Inquire from the banks you're choosing between if they
offer free checking, what their policy on over-drafting is,
how they handle lost/stolen cards, what happens if you have
unauthorized charges appear and so on. Talk to them
saving/checking accounts and the fees they charge. Get lots
of information to take home with you so you can read it
Many will have pamphlets to give you, so take all the
ones that interest you. You will also want to find out how
many locations they have and where all their ATM's are.
Convenience is key with banks since you won't want to have
to drive all over town to withdraw cash or deposit checks.
If you're considering a start-up bank that doesn't have too
many locations yet- make sure you won't be traveling around
much just because you won't have access to a bank.
The best thing you can do when choosing between banks is
get all the information you possibly can and then decide
which one to go with. This way you'll get the best deals
and you'll know what to expect and not expect from your
The author has been in the banking industry for 30 years.
Her purpose is to help people to manage their money with
ease and peace of mind.
Carol Sue Blanchard is passionate about banks and
is the webmaster of FEN Banks