By Ken McCormick
Vice President, Relationship Management

How to Choose a Checking Account

May 08, 2023

  • Banking
  • Checking Accounts

A checking account is one of the most basic banking services you can have. Checking accounts are relatively simple to open by either going to a bank or credit union’s website or visiting a branch location. There are several types of checking accounts available, offering different features and options. The goal is to find a checking account that meets your banking needs.  

Where to Open Your Checking Account

Many people will choose the bank they are already doing business with to open a checking account. Others choose banks that have locations close to their work or home for convenience. However, when you open a checking account, you should look for financial institutions that fit your needs. If depositing and withdrawing cash is on your must-have list, a financial institution that makes it easy and convenient for these services should play into your decision.

The internet and mobile apps have made it easier than ever to go with a financial institution that may not be in your area or are considered online-only. Compare and shop around to find the most suitable place for you to open your checking account.

What Factors to look for in a Checking Account

There are several factors that you should take into consideration when looking for a checking account. Some of these factors may be weighted more heavily than others. It depends on how you will be using your checking account and what’s more important to you. Here are some factors that you should consider in your decision:

ATM access/fees – Some financial institutions charge a fee if you access your money through an ATM that’s not part of your bank or credit union’s network. This fee ranges and can be as much as a few dollars each time you use it. Some financial institutions will reimburse you for these charges or allow you to make a certain amount of ATM transactions per month.

Account minimums – A financial institution may ask that you keep a required minimum balance in your account at all times. The minimum can vary based on the type of checking account you open, anything from a dollar to a few thousand dollars. If your balance falls below the minimum, you may be charged a fee.

Overdrafts – Writing a check is almost a thing of the past, and so are bounced checks. However, with debit cards being used more often for everyday transactions, there are situations where you may overdraw your account.

If you enroll in overdraft services, you will be allowed to complete a transaction even when you don’t have the funds to pay for it. In return, you will be charged an overdraft fee. These fees can add up, so its best not to continuously overdraw your account. Check with the financial institution to find out what it would cost you to use overdraft services.

Branch access – The number of branch locations with financial institutions has been shrinking over the last several years. This is due to the convenience and features of online banking and mobile apps to complete everyday transactions. If you prefer banking at a branch, review their locations to make sure that the institution fits your needs.

Earning interest – Some checking accounts will allow you to earn interest or cashback on the purchases you make through your debit card. There may be a minimum or maximum balance requirement for these types of checking accounts, and interest rates will vary.

Eligibility and special needs – To open a checking account, you typically need to be at least 18 years old without needing a parent to co-sign. You also may need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and show proof of this. If you are a student, look for financial institutions that offer student checking accounts. These accounts typically have lower, or no fees and other features that make them friendlier for students.

NASB offers a range of checking accounts to fit the needs of your lifestyle. Open a checking account or give us a call at 800-677-6272 to learn more.