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Before You Open an Account


When it comes time to open up your first checking account or you are moving to a new area and are shopping for a new bank, you should carefully consider all of your options. It is is also a good idea to conduct a banking check up every year or two to make sure the accounts you have are still the best options for you. Generally, your choices can be broken down into three specific categories.

Large Banks

A large bank offers several advantages. One of the best advantages is that you can move your account with you when you are transferred to a new area. You may also be able to find the bank's ATMs when you travel. Larger banks offer a wide variety of account options and services. One of the biggest disadvantages is that you are simply an account number to them. You may build a good relationship with a particular branch, but the corporate officers make most of the decisions when it comes to handling your account.

    Small Banks

    A small bank is more focused on customer service. You may choose a small regional bank or an even smaller local bank. These banks offer several accounts, but they may not be able to do as much as a larger bank. You may not be able to exchange foreign currency at a small bank, but your account does matter to them. Often the people you interact with do make the decisions regarding your account. The biggest downside is that you will have to change banks when you move. You will also have to use other ATMs when you travel.

      Credit Unions

      A credit union operates differently than a bank. When you join a credit union, you become a member instead of an account holder. A credit union is a non-profit organization. This means that the products that it offers have better interest rates in favor of you the consumer. You can find lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on your savings accounts. The customer service is usually much more friendly as well. The fees associated with accounts are much lower as well. You have the same guarantee on your funds as a bank as long as your credit union is a member of the NCUA.

        A Combination of the Three

        You may decide to go with a combination of accounts. You can have your checking account at a larger bank if you travel a lot, but have your loans and savings accounts through your local credit union. It is important to carefully consider all of your account options before making your choice. You can employ basic strategies to avoid banking fees.


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