Originally Answered: Which bank should I open an account with?
There is no best bank, best credit union, or best bank account, Annie. You need to look at the totality of each bank’s or credit union’s services, accounts, and fees. Every bank and credit union offers several accounts with different features and different fees. Some banks and credit unions may have low overdraft fees, but high fees in other areas. Some accounts waive all fees if you maintain a minimum balance. Ask each institution about the minimum amount you have to keep in your account to avoid a monthly maintenance fee. Also ask if the amount you have to keep in your account is based on the average amount you have in your account during the month, or whether it's based on the lowest amount you have in your account on any single day during the month. The minimum balance varies from institution to institution. For example Bank of America in Dallas, Texas sets its minimum balance for its checking accounts at $5,000 to avoid monthly maintenance fees. Other accounts have a monthly fee, but no fee on each transaction. Other accounts have no monthly fee, but a fee for each transaction. ►All institutions are required to print a schedule of fees. Read each schedule carefully, especially the small print and the footnotes. ◄
Credit unions generally have lower fees and are friendlier to their depositors. This is because credit unions are owned by—and answer to—their depositors. Banks are owned by stockholders who view depositors as nothing more than a source of income.
I suggest that you visit several banks and credit unions and speak to the customer service personnel. Bring a written list of questions which are important to YOU. Find out the features and charges of each of their accounts. Find out how many ATMs are available, and whether there is a service charge for using the ATM. Make sure you get everything in writing. Do not accept anything the customer service person tells you verbally.