Eight questions to ask before opening a bank account

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Many people have opened bank accounts without knowing the rules guiding the operation of such accounts, whether it is current, savings, fixed deposit or other types of specialised bank accounts.

The missing link is that the prospective bank customer fails to ask the type of account it is and the rules guiding such type of account.

What looks on paper like a no-fee or low-cost account may not actually be the one that’s best suited to your needs.

According to www.americasaves.com, there are eight questions to ask to help figure out if your account is right for you.

Whatever bank you choose, make sure to ask these questions about their current and savings accounts:

  1. Is there a minimum balance requirement to avoid a monthly fee? If so, what is it?

Some banks charge monthly fees to maintain your account. In many cases, though, they waive those fees based on certain conditions, such as regular paycheque direct deposits. Some banks require you to pay a fee if you don’t maintain a minimum or average balance in your account, though those fees also may be waived based on certain conditions.

  1. How soon is my money available after I deposit it?

Some banks can put holds on large and sometimes even small deposits. It is important to know this. Some bank customers have accused their banks of holding on to their money unnecessarily.

  1. How large is the ATM network?

The Automated Teller Machines allow you to withdraw money from your savings and current accounts without visiting a bank branch. This saves time and offers comfort. But some withdrawals can be at a cost to you.

  1. Is there a branch nearby?

Unless you don’t mind doing all your banking online or over the phone, you may want to consider a bank with a branch close to your work or home. It may be worth spending some time on the bank’s website to figure out what transactions will require you to visit a branch.

  1. Can I access my account information online?

You may be able to check balances, transfer money, receive statements and pay bills online. If you don’t have easy access to a branch, online banking can be very valuable.

  1. Is mobile banking available?

Some banks have mobile apps for convenient banking on the go. You may want to consult reviews of your bank’s app to see what specific services are offered, since they can vary.

  1. Will it cost me to transfer money?

Many banks don’t charge you or charge moderately to pay bills directly from your current account. If you’re transferring money to another person, banks generally won’t charge you if that person also has an account with the bank. However, if you’re transferring or wiring money outside the bank, the cost may differ from one bank to another

  1. Does the account pay me interest?

Generally, if current accounts pay interest, the rate is very low. High-yield current accounts offer higher interests, but typically require higher balances. Savings accounts offer higher rates, but because the accounts are intended for saving, they’re subject to different rules.

Other things to note

Pay special attention to any fine print on any document that you sign. Very often, we ignore the fine print, which is where much of the information about fees is located; so, don’t ignore it.

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