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Choosing a Bank? What to Look at Besides The Interest Rates


When you go out looking for a new bank account to hold on to your money, chances are the first thing you look for is the interest rate they're going to pay you on your balance. It's good to make that one of your first considerations, particularly if you have a good amount of money to deposit, but there are a number of other things you'll want to take into consideration when making your decision.

Free Stuff

It's not unusual for banks to offer new account holders some special perks for opening an account with them. Everything from toasters to crockpots to car ice scrapers, cash and gift certificates have been handed out by banks!

Some banks play ATM gambling games during their grand opening! Once you have an account and use their ATM, you might be surprised to find $50 bills in place of $20's in your withdrawal.

None of these are a good reason to select a bank, but if you're already looking at a bank and find out they offer some quality free stuff, it's not a bad bonus!

ATM Fees and Rewards

If you are someone who relies on your ATM card to make deposits and withdrawals, you'll want to investigate the fees associated with the use of the card. Will you be charged if you swipe your card in a retail store? Are you limited to a certain number of transactions? Does the bank give you back other bank charges when you use another bank's ATM?

Have you seen debit card rewards programs yet? These are fairly new to the banking world but work exactly like a typical credit card rewards program. The more you use your card, the more “rewards” you can earn. The actual rewards will depend on the bank. Some banks give you points and let you redeem them for merchandise. Some banks give you a percentage of cash back. If you're a heavy ATM card user, it might be a good idea to seek out a bank offering rewards for debit card use.

Online Banking

There are very few people who don't make use of online banking features these days. Even your local bank should give you access to your account online to view your current balance and itemized transactions. In previous years, banks have been known to charge for this feature – but it's so commonplace now you'd be crazy to accept a bank account that charges you for online banking.

You should also avoid banks that charge you for the ability to schedule online payments from your bank account. Online bill pay is offered by many banks as an included feature – seems silly to pay for something that you can get for free at the majority of financial institutions.