A checking account is a critical part of financial life for many people in the modern world. You might wonder, though, what you should look for in an account. Here are six features you'll want to keep an eye out for.
It shouldn't be very hard to find a bank that offers a free checking account. However, it is wise to make sure it is truly free. Some accounts include fees for tons of different services, and you should confirm that either you won't need those fee-based services or that they are actually free. For example, many people don't write checks anymore, but banks generally charge for new checks and ones drawn at the counter.
The typical modern checking account also allows users access to a debit card. A debit card is backed by a major credit card issuer, but it is only financed by the money in your account. This means you can use it as a credit card in nearly all situations, such as buying groceries or making online purchases. However, there isn't a credit line, so you will need to pay very close attention to how well funded your account is.
Minimum Balance Requirements
A lot of banks offer accounts that require you to keep a minimum balance. Unless it is an interest-bearing account that pays you for keeping a minimum deposit amount, you should not go for this type of free checking account. Also, even if you want interest, there are usually better ways to get that sort of return with a savings or money market account.
The minimum acceptable ATM setup for a checking account is access to in-network machines with no fees. Generally, outside-the-network transactions with other banks' machines will carry charges. Make sure, however, that your free checking account doesn't have a limit on how many times you can use your own bank's ATMs.
Robust Online Banking Options
Any modern bank offers online options, and nearly all banks offer apps, too. These tools can be especially helpful if you need to, for example, deposit a check by using your phone.
The FDIC is a federal agency that insures depositors' funds up to $250,000 per bank account category. Suppose a major recession hit and wiped out several banks. If yours was one of those banks, your checking account would be insured up to a loss of $250,000.