Choosing the best checking account
The best checking account for you will depend on your needs and your priorities. A few options:
- Basic checking: This account works best if you can keep only a small amount of money in your account on a regular basis. Some banks charge a small monthly fee for a basic checking account; others don't. To have a free account, you may need to have a paycheck directly deposited into your account or keep a certain minimum balance of, say, $500. If you go below the set amount, even for one day, you'll be charged a fee.
- Interest bearing: This type of account pays you interest on the money you keep in the account. Usually you'll need a higher minimum balance in such an account-typically around $1,000.
- Express: This account is best if you want to do your banking via ATM, telephone, or online. The fees are usually very low-perhaps $5 or $10 per month-and you can keep a low minimum balance. Just be sure that the ATMs are convenient for you because you will likely have to pay a fee if the ATM is not operated by your bank.
- No frills: Just like the name implies, this account allows a very low minimum balance and charges no fees or low monthly fees. The drawback is that you may be able to write only a limited number of checks per month.
- Student account: Some banks offer special checking deals to students. The perks might be low monthly fees, free checks, no minimum balance, and so on. The benefits vary from bank to bank.
To help you in researching the best bank and account for your needs, use the Comparing Checking Accounts Worksheet