1. Money

Is Your Bank Working for You or You for It?

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One of the reasons that banks work so hard to have college students sign up for accounts freshman year is that they understand the concept of brand loyalty. Most people only think about choosing a new bank when they move, and often college students stay at the same bank when they graduate. However many consumers or account holders forget to realize that the bank is offering them a service.You should check to make sure you and your bank are a good fit. It can be difficult and time consuming to switch to a new bank, but if your bank is not offering all of the services you need you should consider it. You are not trapped at your bank, and you should be able to avoid banking fees. But before you do check to see if you are utilizing your bank's current services.

1. Online Banking

Online banking is one way that you can make your bank work for you. Most online banking comes with a bill pay option, which can save you both time and money, and it simplifies the way that you pay your bills.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is online banking free?
  • Is it compatible with my money software program?
  • Am I charged for using bill pay options?
  • Is it secure and convenient?

2. Overdraft Options

Another option you should look into is the overdraft protection and policy. Many people automatically assume that overdraft protection is a good thing, but it is one of the biggest moneymakers for a bank. Banks may automatically allow you to overdraw and will charge you a $25.00 fee each time you do, but they may also have the option of linking a savings account or a line of credit to your checking account and then charging you a much smaller fee to transfer the money over for you.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there additional overdraft options at my bank?
  • How much is the overdraft costing me each year?
  • Is there another bank with better options and with comparable services to my current bank?

3. Automatic Transfer

Automatic transfer is another option that is great and that you should take advantage of. Often banks will offer you a lower interest rate on a loan if you set it up with an automatic transfer amount. This is not difficult to do, but you do need to be sure that you have the money in your account on that set day. You can also set this up to have an automatic transfer into your savings or investment account.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there a fee associated with the automatic transfer?
  • Is there a benefit such as lower interest rates on loans that I can qualify for?

4. Debit Cards and ATM Networks

Debit cards and ATMs have revolutionized the banking industry. When debit cards first became popular many banks charged a fee for using a debit card. Most banks have stopped this practice, although some may still have limits. ATMs allow you to access your bank account from any location around the country. However there are still fees involved with using your ATM card at another banks ATM.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there limits on the number of debit transactions I do each month?
  • What are the ATM fees for using another bank’s ATM?
  • How big is my bank’s ATM network? (If you have a small bank, with just one ATM this can add up quickly)
  • How much do I spend on ATM fees each month?
  • Do I have a daily withdrawal limit at the ATM?

5. Other Services and Benefits

Banks offer services for banking with them for free. Many banks offer free notary services or no fee Traveler’s Cheques if you have an account with them. They may also offer lower lending rates or a higher interest rate on a savings account if you have certain amount of money in savings or a CD. These programs and benefits can save you a lot of money.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there minimum balance requirements to receive these benefits?
  • If there are can I meet them?
  • And if I don’t am I charged a fee for dropping below them?
  • Are the benefits worth the fee that may be associated with having a specific account or minimum balance requirement?
  • Am I taking advantage of these benefits if I do qualify for them?
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