A checking account is one of the basic building blocks of our financial lives. For most of us, a checking account is where we put the money we rely on to get through the day, the week, the month, and beyond.
Credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions offer a wide variety of checking accounts. Whether it’s your first time opening an account, or you’re looking for a new one, it pays to shop around.
Choosing a Checking Account
It’s important to choose a checking account that meets your needs. A credit union’s brick-and-mortar location is no longer a top priority with the convenience of online and mobile banking. Instead, the focus is on checking account features like interest rates, rewards for spending, or no-to-low fees.
Read on to learn about how to choose a checking account, along with some common considerations to help ensure you’re making the right choice for your goals and needs.
Read the fine print for fees. What do you need to do to reduce or eliminate maintenance fees if there are any? It could be as simple as signing up for eStatements to be delivered electronically or maintaining the minimum monthly amount. Even if the fees are minimal, fulfilling the requirements to avoid them keeps more money in your account.
Be sure to look into overdraft fees, too. Some financial institutions will automatically sign you up for this overdraft service. It's always best to avoid overdrawing your account. But if you're frequently down to the last dollar then figure out what it will cost to use the account’s overdraft features.
Access to Money and ATMs
A checking account allows the convenience of depositing and withdrawing your available money. You will also get a free debit card to use for bill pay, online, and in-store shopping. Alongside your checking account comes access to ATMs if you ever need to withdraw money at a moment’s notice.
Usually, there isn't an extra charge for using an in-network ATM. Many credit unions offer ATM locator maps on their websites and mobile apps to help you find in-network locations. Be mindful of any fees associated with ATMs if you use one outside of your network. In some cases, you can be reimbursed for fees charged by a financial institutions’ ATM.
Credit unions are more likely to offer competitive interest rates on checking accounts than some traditional banks.
If you keep a couple of thousand dollars or more in your checking account, you might consider opening a high-yield checking account, like our Premier Dividend Checking. Looking for a free account with low balance requirements that earn you dividends? Check out our Free Momentum Checking.
Consider online banking if you’re tech-savvy and feel comfortable doing your banking online. It will save you time and make managing your finances easy, secure, and convenient. Many credit unions support a variety of tools for online banking and still keep their brick-and-mortar, giving you the best of both worlds.
An extra feature of online banking comes in the form of budgeting. Stay on track with your spending, move money to savings, get account alerts, and more.
Interest and Rewards
Do you plan to frequently use your debit card? A checking account that rewards certain activities might be the best fit for you.
Some credit unions offer an interest-rate bonus for maintaining a higher balance, using a debit card frequently, setting up direct deposit, etc. Other rewards perks may include a points system if you shop with certain merchants or the opportunity to earn cash back on eligible purchases.
If your credit union has age-specific accounts with customized perks for your time in life, even better! From young savers to senior citizens, there are a variety of accounts available.
For example, you may want to explore accounts geared toward seniors who use checks more frequently. If you’re a service member or work in healthcare, you may also find accounts with rewards that speak to your needs and goals.
Arbor Financial offers checking accounts designed for youth and young adults. So, whether you’re just starting to count coins or heading off to college, we’ve got you covered.
Now That You Know How To Choose A Checking Account - Open One Today!
It may seem like a lot of work to explore checking account options. Doing so, however, will set you up for financial success, help you avoid monthly maintenance fees, and protect your money.
At Arbor Financial, you can find the best checking account for your needs. All of our accounts come with loads of free features and are paired with the latest technology for speed and accessibility. No, we're not a bank; we are a people-first financial institution that is here for you!