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Choosing a bank is an important decision. Many people would like to pick a single bank and stick with it for the rest of their lives, so it is a good idea to take time and think about your needs before choosing a bank. By establishing what you know you need in a bank, you can narrow down your choices. When you are choosing a bank, make sure to collect information from several banks so that you can examine it at leisure, and always check to make sure that the bank is insured, as you want your funds on deposit to be safe.
A major consideration for many people when choosing a bank is accessibility and availability. If you travel a great deal, for example, you will want a bank with an extensive branch and Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) network. If you have a tight schedule, you may want a bank which offers extended hours, or is open on the weekends. You may also want to think about choosing a bank which is a quick walk from home or work, making banking very easy for you.
You should also ask yourself how you want to deposit money at the bank. Most banks offer both checking and savings accounts, which may bear varying levels of interest. Some banks also require a minimum deposit, which is an important consideration if you are on a tight budget. While thinking about the types of accounts you want, you may want to think about how many checks you write each month, and if you will need extra services like traveler's checks, direct deposit, or a debit/credit card.
Many people like to do their banking online or by telephone. If this is important to you, find out whether the banks you are interested in offer these services, and if additional charges are imposed. You may also want to explore their online interface, to see whether or not you like using it. While asking about fees for these services, you should check on general banking fees as well, as these can vary from free to quite expensive, depending on the bank.
Finally, you should think about how you will be using the bank. If you are choosing a bank for personal accounts and nothing else, your needs may be different than someone who needs a bank for a business account as well. In addition, you may want to consider whether or not you want options such as a mortgage or car loan through your bank. Centralizing your accounts in one place can be convenient, and you may be able to get a better deal.
If you do not travel extensively and you would like to support your local community, you may want to consider a credit union. Credit unions keep their investments local, building a stronger and better community with the funds deposited there. Sometimes, a credit union can offer better interest than a conventional bank, and credit unions may also offer checking accounts and other features associated with regular banking. Credit unions also tend to invest more ethically than major banking companies, if this a concern.
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