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Best Consumer Banks
Core banking services, such as checking and savings accounts, make up the central hub of personal finance, but most banks also provide a comprehensive array of additional services. By meeting the financial needs of their customers, banks create lasting relationships with them that can offer cost savings and added convenience. However, the relationship with a bank can be difficult to end once it’s formed, so it’s important to choose carefully. The key is to figure out what you need and work on finding the perfect fit for you. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you look for a bank.
Traditional Branch-Based vs. Exclusively Online Banks
First determine whether you would prefer using a traditional bank or an online bank. Large traditional banks are likely to have hundreds or even thousands of branches located around the world, which is beneficial for frequent travelers. Branch-based banks also offer a higher level of personal customer service that is attractive to many consumers. You may enjoy having the ability to walk into a branch and meet with a representative in person when you have a problem or need to carry out a transaction. Most branch banks offer online services in addition to those offered by physical branches, although those offered by smaller banks may be less advanced or comprehensive than their larger or online counterparts. If you decide to choose an exclusively-online bank, your accounts will only be available online or over the phone. This may be discomforting to some consumers, but there are various benefits to choosing online banking. Since online banks do not have to deal with maintaining numerous physical branches, they are able to pass the savings on to you in the form of higher interest rates and lower account fees. Most online banks are also open 24/7, providing you with real-time access to your accounts from anywhere at any time. Bear in mind that online banks are completely dependent on technology, so if your computer or Internet connection goes down, you will not have access to your accounts until the technical problems are fixed. Also, if you’re thinking about an online bank, ensure that it allows you to pay for daily expenses with a debit card and that it provides access to ATMs in your area.
How to Choose the Right Bank for You
Once you have narrowed your options to either traditional banks or online banks, consider the following criteria:
- Fees: Bank fees often depend on your banking habits and behavior, so be aware of these habits while comparing banks. For instance, you will need to be aware of fees related to minimum balances, overdraft fees, fees for balance transfers, and charges for using other banks’ ATMs. Remember, banks like to collect fees from their customers, so be sure to read the fine print.