7 Top Considerations When Selecting Your Bank
For most people, a bank represents the center of their personal finances. Money enters and leaves their checking account, and a savings account of some type accumulates funds for emergencies or future goals. And when additional funds are needed, a bank is often their best source for many kinds of loans. But the choice of which bank to use is not always an obvious decision.
At Citizen’s State Bank we realize that the best bank for one person is sometimes different than which bank is best for someone else. The following seven considerations just might help you discover the right bank for you.
While banks are generally thought of as a safe place to keep your money, several considerations affect just how secure your deposits may really be. FDIC insurance covers deposits up to $250,000 per depositor per institution in the event of a bank failure. To verify that a particular bank is FDIC insured, you can use the FDIC's BankFind tool. Various types of accounts, such as retirement accounts and joint accounts, may be treated differently. And remember that if your accounts total more than $250,000, any excess may be exposed to loss.
Convenience can be different for each person, depending upon their banking habits. For some, convenience is a matter of full-service online banking availability. Being able to conduct business from anywhere, anytime, and to manage their money online, using a computer or a smartphone for mobile banking, making deposits, online bill pay, transferring funds, and even for completing an online loan application, all while never having to actually visit a brick and mortar bank location, has a great appeal. For others not comfortable with technology, or those who prefer to do their banking with a real person, face-to-face, the location of the bank branches can be a top consideration. And though you might not need them often, some specialty bank offerings such as notary services, safety deposit boxes, and issuance of certified and cashier's checks can only be had in the actual bank location.
Rates & Fees
For many consumers, the banking fees charged and the interest rates available on savings and on loans are major considerations in their choice of a bank. Though we have been in a period of relatively low rates for quite some time, bank fees seem to be on the rise and some banks are not completely transparent with this information. It's important to research a bank's fee schedule in advance to avoid any unpleasant surprises since constant charges over time can quickly reduce an account holder's savings. Fees commonly charged at most banks include ATM fees, account maintenance fees, and overdraft charges. Most or all of these fees can usually be avoided by simply maintaining a required minimum balance. Interest rates paid on savings and charged on loans can also vary from one bank to another. Again, research and compare to locate the best rates if that's a high priority for you.
Most banks have come to offer the same basic product mix, with checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, debit and credit cards, ATMs, and a variety of loan types such as car loans, mortgages, and home loans being common to nearly all. With so little diversity in the basic available services, the consumer is forced to look deeper to find differences in offerings upon which to base the selection of which bank to use. Something like the locations of bank ATMs or the lobby and drive through open days and hours can be of significant importance to folks with a full work schedule and few opportunities for necessary bank visits.
The availability and expertise of a bank's customer service can be critical whenever special assistance is required or when problems arise. Service issues can drain your time as quickly as fees can deplete your accounts, so it can pay to choose an institution known for having friendly and efficient customer service. Several research firms and publications such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power study and rate bank features such as customer service and their research can assist in choosing a bank if customer service is a top priority for you.
Increasingly people are factoring in ethics when deciding on where to bank, seeking out those institutions with a proven record of environmentally and socially conscious business practices along with a history of community involvement in the local areas they serve. Community involvement often takes various forms such as the funding of local scholarships and sponsorships, providing support for education to improve financial literacy in the community, financial participation in local affordable housing projects, and financially supporting a variety of community events and local charities. Detailed information on a specific bank's environmental and social values and its areas of community and charitable involvement are generally available on each institution's individual website.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reported that about seven percent of households do not have a checking or savings account. While some cannot have a bank account for a variety of reasons, others deliberately choose the 'no bank' option. Many people striving to live 'off the grid' prefer to avoid having any of their personal information publicly available by forgoing all use of any modern banking and financial systems. Such folks typically use cash for all purchases whenever possible, paying with money orders when cash is not an option, and enlisting check cashing services as needed. Others use cash to 'load' prepaid debit cards to facilitate these types of necessary transactions.
It’s Up To You, But Do Your Homework
Choosing where to bank is a personal decision that no one else should make for you. Of all the various considerations, it's up to you to take each one into account, weigh your options, and then decide just which ones matter most to you. For some, security and safety might be the most important factors, for others, it may be convenience and ease of use. Ask for personal recommendations from family or friends to help to narrow choices. Regardless of your own priorities, research your options and visit the web sites of banks you are considering. And before making a final decision, visit the bank itself and see if it feels like the right fit for you, your lifestyle, and your money. Establishing a comfortable banking relationship can be an invaluable tool in securing your successful financial future.
At Citizen’s State Bank we are happy to discuss all of our financial offerings, rates, mobile banking options, quality customer service, and answer any questions you may have. With almost 50 years of serving our East Texas communities, we invite you to become a part of the Citizen’s State Bank family and see for yourself the difference in hometown banking.