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When opening a bank account anywhere, there are always questions that are important to ask. People who blindly open an account can find themselves trapped in a harmful relationship where the bank holds all the cards and the person is handcuffed to something they no longer want. When searching for a bank, never enter into an agreement on blind faith when it comes to your savings and money. Here is a look at seven questions to always ask before opening a bank account.READ MORE: Denver Drafts 5-Year Plan To Address Housing And Homelessness
What Do You Want From Your Bank?
The first question that needs to be asked is one that the consumer must ask themselves: what is the most important thing that you want from your bank account? When looking at opening a new bank account, it is important to first know whether this is an account that can be a regional or local bank, or if a person needs something bigger. If a person likes to travel for leisure or business, it helps to have a bank with locations around the United States. This allows a person to find free ATMs no matter where they go, whereas a regional bank will often cost a lot of money to use ATMs in different states. A person who mainly sticks around home will find better service and a more personal approach with regional banks or credit unions. Figure out what is most important and stick with those options.
How Many Branches Are There?
It is a good idea to figure out how many branches there are for ease and convenience. If a person has a branch right around the corner, but then moves from one town to another, they may find themselves miles from the nearest branch. Credit unions offer many good perks, but there are usually two or three total branches for each credit union, which could put them out of reach when a person moves. Regional branches are better, but if a person is transferred out of state, they will have to change banks. Mega banks are more plentiful, and have plenty of online options, but are also not located everywhere. Find out where the bank’s branches are located and plan accordingly.
What Are the Costs of Banking?
Ask in detail what the charges are for banking. Banks make a lot of money off the interest of holding your money. If a person is rich and has over $25,000 sitting in their bank at all time, banks will roll out all the deals for those people. However, people who live paycheck-to-paycheck and keep low balances after paying bills will find themselves flooded with fees. Find out if there are charges for keeping low bank account balances or for using a debit card less than normal. If a bank charges too much for anything, move on to shop another banking institution.
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Some banks are really using technology to the fullest. Even if a person does not live near a branch, they can deposit checks via photograph through text messages with some banks. Others allow an easy way to transfer money online. The location of the bank’s ATMs is a very important thing for anyone who needs to get cash quickly without fees. It is nice to be able to get a balance through text messaging and keep track of all transactions through a mobile device. Find out what each bank offers.
How Secure is the Bank Account?
There is no guarantee that a bank will keep money safe from hackers and thieves. However, a person deserves to know what a bank will do to protect them from these breaches. Find out what a bank’s policy is when it comes to fraudulent charges. It is also important to keep in mind that larger mega banks are bigger targets for these people than smaller regional banks, although no one is completely safe. Make sure that the bank has your back and find out what the steps are to protect yourself in case of a breach.
What is Available Online?
In today’s world, Internet banking is almost more important than banking through a branch. Find out what all is available online. Can a person check balances, transfer money, get customer service, apply for loans and deposit money online easily and securely? Are these options also available through mobile devices? The more that the bank offers online for customers to access, the easier it is to control your money. Just make sure they don’t charge hidden fees for the online usage.
How Do You Close Your Account?
This is an important question, and if a bank is reputable, they should have no problem answering it. A bank should be secure enough in their customer service skills to understand that they shouldn’t have to worry about losing customers. However, a potential customer should know if a bank charges cancellation fees if they decide to take their business elsewhere. Banks that do should raise red flags because it might be the case that a lot of people decide to divorce that bank. If that is the case, move on to another banking option.MORE NEWS: Douglas County School District 'Strongly Encourages' Face Coverings While Indoors
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. Examiner.com.