How to ----------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------CHOOSE A BANK
> Assess your > Visit several banks > Think about how > Look for an > Compare fees
banking needs near your home or comfortable you institution that and service
office feel at each is federally charges
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
> What is your > How much money > How many checks >What are your
“banking personality?” can you keep on checks will you savings goals?
deposit each month? write?
Finding the right bank means assessing your needs first. Whether you’re looking for a new bank or just want to evaluate how well your current banking relationship is meeting your needs, answering the following questions can help you identify your “ banking personality” and perhaps make your shopping a bit less of a chore.
• How much money can you keep on deposit each month and how many checks will you write? This will help you figure out how complex or simple an account you might need. “Packaged” or “multi-service” accounts offer a variety of services for one fee, while “no frills” accounts offer a minimum number of services at an extra-low price. Other accounts might be designed cafeteria-style: you choose from a variety of services and pay as you go.
Will you be buying a home or car or making another large purchase in the near future? You’ll want to find out about the variety of loan products offered.
How many savings products are offered? This is important if you hope to save for a big expense or toward your child’s (or your own!) future education. Many banks now offer uninsured investments, such as mutual funds, as well as the more traditional insured deposit accounts.
• What time of day do you expect to do most of your banking? Some people prefer to visit the bank during their work hours, while others prefer a bank located close to home that they can visit over the weekend
• Do you like the convenience of automated teller machines and other types of electronic services --- like banking through your personal computer, smart phone, or do you prefer to deal directly with bank personnel? Answering this question will help you determine if you’d be happier at a bank with an extensive branch network emphasizing regular, evening or weekend hours, or one that focuses more on electronic services like ATMs and PC banking.
Now that you have the answers to these questions, call or visit several banks near home or office – more and more banks even offer information over the Internet. Shop your current bank first if you think your relationship isn’t all I could be.
Perhaps they have introduced new accounts or services you aren’t even aware of that would better suit your needs. Let them know if the level of service or convenience doesn’t meet your expectations and give them the opportunity to design a relationship that works for you.
Compare fees and service charges at the banks you’re considering, as well as interest rates on loans and deposit accounts. What does each charge for services like cashiers checks, safe deposit box rental, and ATM use.
Because price isn’t the only – or even most important – factor for most people in choosing a bank, take a minute to think about how comfortable you feel at each institution. Are your questions answered quickly and accurately? Do customer service personnel offer helpful suggestions? Will the hours and locations save you time and meet the demands of your lifestyle?
Finally, look for an institution that is federally insured. This means your deposits will be protected up to $100,000. You will find federal deposit insurance stickers displayed on doors and teller windows.
ATM SAFETY TIPS
The automated teller machine (ATM) revolution made banking more convenient than ever before. With the touch of a few buttons, you can withdraw cash, make deposits and transfer funds virtually anywhere an ATM is located.
Bank customers should always use common sense when using an ATM. These tips are a start, but the best advice is simply not to used an ATM if you feel at all uncomfortable doing so. ATMs provide convenience but they haven’t replaced the bank teller. If you prefer, conduct your business in the bank lobby.
• Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place, just like you would cash, credit cards, or checks.
• Do not leave your ATM card lying around the house or on your desk at work. No one should have access to the card but you. Immediately notify your bank if it is lost or stolen.
• Keep your Personal Indentification Number (PIN) a secret. Never write it down anywhere, especially on your ATM card.
• Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. If you observe or sense suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine at that time.
• Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. Don’t wait to get to the ATM and then take your card out of your wallet or purse.