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When a 20-something is opening their first bank account, there are a lot of questions to ask. There are different kinds of checking accounts, from free ones to ones that add on charges, and there are also savings accounts and credit unions as well. With so many different options to choose from, here are some banking tips for 20-somethings.

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Shop Banks Carefully

Not all banks are created equal. There are many different options, and for 20-somethings, there are some important things to keep in mind. Regional banks and credit unions often offer the best customer service and often offer less fees that mega banks. However, unlike older consumers, 20-somethings might not be sticking in the same city or state for very long. However, if they plan to move, but remain in the same state, regional and local banks could provide the best bang for the buck. If a person plans to move out of state, or travels a lot, nationwide mega banks are the safest bet.

Go for Free Checking

Look for banks that offer free checking. Unless a 20-something is fresh out of college and has moved into a good first job, a person is more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck and isn’t wealthy. When a bank charges $10 a month just to allow a person to have a checking account, that will cut into a person’s living expenses. Some of the biggest mega banks charge fees, and that is where regional and local banks offer a nice option. Find a bank that not only has free checking, but also no strings attached.

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Read the Fine Print

For people with a lot of money, banks offer a lot of perks. For those who keep low balances, they don’t. An example is a bank that promises free checking, but has strings attached. A person will get free checking, but only if they keep a minimum balance, have automatic deposit set up or use their debit card for purchases a minimum amount of times per month. That is dangerous, because if a person has a rough month, they may not be able to spend enough on their debit card and then they will get hit with a fee. That fee could turn into an extra overdraft charge if the account is low enough, and then they find themselves buried in unexpected debt.

Don’t Handcuff Yourself to a Bank

A person should always be able to change banks if they move or become dissatisfied with their bank’s service. There are a number of things that block a person’s ability to change banks easily. The first is automatic bill pay. It is fine to have a debtor take money from a bank account, because that can be changed easily through their websites. However, when having the bank pay the bills for you, that can cause problems. Another problem is having all your bank accounts and loans at one bank. Shop around for the best options, and if that means having a checking account at one bank, a savings account at a credit union, and credit cards online, all the better. The less red tape to divorce a bank, the better. 

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. aExaminer.com.