Determining your banking needs
Thinking about how you want to "do" your banking-in person, online, over the phone, at an ATM-can help you find the right bank and the right account for your needs. Some questions to consider:
- Where is the bank located? Is there a branch or ATM near campus or where you live?
- Do you want to go to the bank to deposit or withdraw money, or would you rather use an ATM?
- How much money will you be able to keep in the account every month? (The bank may require a minimum balance.)
- How many checks will you need to write each month? (The bank may have a limit.)
- Do you prefer to pay bills online or write paper checks?
After you answer these questions, you'll have a good idea about the kind of checking account and features you need. For example, if you don't plan to keep much money in the account and you only need to write a few checks a month, a free, no-frills account might work just fine. Or, if you prefer to do your banking at ATMs or online, an account with these features would be a good choice.
Also, consider your money habits. If having an ATM card in your wallet means you're withdrawing $20 every time you see an ATM—money that you really can't afford to spend—you might be better off without an ATM card, using paper checks instead. The process of writing a check helps some people think about their purchases more than if they pay with cash.