How Does Your Bank Match Up? 6 Questions You Should Be Asking

You feel like you might be paying a little too much in monthly bank fees. Or maybe you feel as though you deserve better interest rates or friendlier customer service from the bank where you’ve chosen to keep your money. Whatever it may be, you should feel happy with your bank. Thinking about checking out some other banks to compare? Here’s a list of questions you should take into consideration when comparing.

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1. What does my balance need to be in order to avoid fees?

See what other banks require for a minimum balance, as well as the fees that go along with it. If you’re getting hit with fees each month, there may be a bank out there that has a smaller minimum balance or fewer fees associated with balances. “In addition to the monthly service fees, you should check on other fees that you can be charged before you switch banks, such as a stop-payment fee, deposited item return fee, account closing fee and nonsufficient funds fee,” according to Bankrate.

2. How safe is my money?

“You’ve probably seen those ‘FDIC-insured’ stickers on bank doors or teller windows before, but you may not have understood entirely what they mean. The FDIC — short for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — is an independent agency of the United States government. The FDIC protects you against the loss of your deposits if an FDIC-insured bank or savings association fails,” according to Credit

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Typical protection is usually available up to $100,000 per depositor per bank, but some banks may offer higher coverage. If this is important to you, see what your bank is offering and how it compares to others.

3. How high are out-of-network ATM fees?

If you frequently withdraw money from ATMs, this is an important factor to check out. If your current bank is charging you every time you withdraw from an out-of-network ATM, compare what other banks are charging. Also, if you’re a frequent flier, you may want to consider looking into a national bank, Bankrate writes. They typically offer ATMs around the country for easy withdrawal access.

4. What does the fine print say?

Do you know exactly what your bank has written in its fine print? First, find that out. Have a description of all account fees, minimum balances, information on checks, who you should contact if your debit card is stolen, as well as how to access online banking. Then, use that information to shop around, reports Credit. Take that specific information to a bank and see if they can offer anything different.

5. How is the technology?

Technology makes banking easier for consumers. If additional technology and convenience features are what you’re looking for, find out what your bank has now, as well as what it’s planing to have in the future. Does your bank have mobile apps? Is the direct deposit easy to use? Take a look at other banks and see how their features add up. Chances are that bigger banks will be able to offer the most technologically advanced options, writes My Bank Tracker.

6. What’s the customer service like?

Do you ever leave your bank feeling like you weren’t given great service? If so, see what other banks can offer you. Chances are, there’s going to be a bank nearby that is willing to provide you great service. If you’re hoping for more face time with your bank, consider looking at smaller institutions.

“Local banks and credit unions offer the same basic services that big banks do, but also have a few other benefits. At small banks, you’re likely to enjoy more personal service and maybe even develop relationships with people at the bank. If being a part of your community makes you happy, opening an account at a local bank may be the right answer for you,” My Bank Tracker says.