As you decide on a bank or credit union, it is a good idea to consider your options and thoroughly vet your choices. You want to make sure that your bank will provide you good service, as well as provide you with the financial products and services that you need. It is also worth noting that the era of having all of your banking in one place is over. Electronic banking via the Internet has made it possible to open different accounts all over the country, allowing you to get the best deals. Before you make your decision, here are some things to consider as you open an account:

Fees and Minimums

Fees and minimum balance requirements can be a real pain. After all, paying monthly fees can drain your account, reducing how much money you end up with. Minimum balances require you to maintain a certain balance — or you are hit with fees. Before you open an account at a bank or credit union, make sure you understand the terms of the account, and read the fine print. Avoid accounts that impose fees and minimums. They are getting harder to find, but that’s why we have the Internet.

Interest Yield

Another thing to look for is interest yield. Whenever you put your money in a bank or credit union, it is a give that you will not get the same rate as putting it in stocks or some other investments. However, if the financial institution is properly insured, your money is safe. And it is easily accessible. You make a trade off. This reality is no reason to settle for a yield that scrapes the bottom of the barrel. You can find high yield savings accounts online, helping you make the most of your money.

It is also possible to find checking accounts that offer interest yields. Some web sites are starting to offer information on checking accounts that provide rewards and interest. These days, there is no reason to limit yourself by geographic location; many banks and credit unions also offer ATM fee refunds, or belong to national networks to help you avoid fees.

Bottom Line: In the end, you want a financial institution that will provide you reasonably good service, and offer you a place to park your cash so that you can access it and get the most out of it. This goes for CD rates and money market accounts as well. Avoid fees and minimums, and look for the best yields.


Miranda is a Freelance writer focusing on banking and personal finance.