December 16, 2013
Which bank is right for you? With all the choices, you need to do your homework. Think about what matters most. Take inventory of what your financial needs and desires are, and prioritize. Conduct some research and gather information on a group of possible financial institutions. Ultimately, you should end up with a banking relationship that is the right fit for you now and in the future.
Establishing and Evaluating Your Needs
What types of services do you need from your financial institution? With regard to everyday banking, consider ATM access and mobile and online options for your accessibility and convenience. ATM fees can be costly. Some banks are members of a network where you can access your money surcharge-free at thousands of ATMs nationwide. Online availability of account information, bill paying options and other services may be something for you to consider. Most banks have websites that allow you to conduct much of your banking safely and conveniently over the Internet. Online options can save time and hassles if you prefer to access and check your accounts frequently and outside of standard business hours. If you travel a lot, mobile banking may be for you as well. Many institutions offer mobile banking apps that will allow you to conduct your banking right from your smart phone, anywhere at any time.
As your life evolves, so does your lifestyle. You will need a bank that will be able to support you through times of transition. Most people need assistance at some point in their life financing a home, an automobile or another big purchase. Consider also other special financial situations, such as home improvements or a dream vacation. If you would prefer to stick with one financial institution for everything, then ensure you consider all of your immediate and long-term possible scenarios prior to making a choice.
Gathering Information from Credible Sources
Consider at least a few financial institutions, but most importantly, limit your list to only those that are FDIC or NCUA insured. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation protects depositors of insured banks for up to $250,000. The National Credit Union Administration insures deposits up to $250,000 for federally insured credit union members. Seek out institutions which offer additional kinds of deposit insurances as well, such as SIF (Share Insurance Fund), DIF (Depositors Insurance Fund) and MSIC (Massachusetts Credit Union Share Insurance Corporation) which cover amounts in excess of the FDIC and NCUA limits.
Talk to people who may have similar financial situations to yours such as friends, family, and colleagues. You can also utilize online resources and tools such as social media outlets and online reviews of the institutions you are considering.
Making an Informed Choice!
Once you have a list of candidates, make it a point to contact a representative from each institution and be prepared to take notes. A customer service or member service department is a great place to start. Be sure that the person you speak with is knowledgeable and makes an effort to make you feel valued for your potential business. Ask yourself whether or not the institution will be accountable to you when it matters most. Be sure to have a list of questions that you feel are important and should be answered before you make the final decision.
Your goal is to make an informed choice of a financial institution that is worthy of your patronage and your trust.