Four things to consider when choosing a bank

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 8, 2012

(BPT) – Life is full of everyday choices, from what you wear to where you shop. One of the most important choices you can make is where you choose to bank. Your bank is more than your corner market or mall – it’s should provide ample choices to help you to make the best decisions for your lifestyle.

A bank is more than a place to withdraw and deposit money; it should be a financial partner. If you’re unsure of whether your bank is truly committed to you as a partner, consider these questions: Are you paying additional fees for making an in-person transaction through a teller? Do you prefer mobile banking or need access to a branch? Look for a bank with expanded conveniences and financial choices, so you get exactly what you need.

A recent TD Bank survey found that more than half of consumers say day-to-day banking provides the greatest value for the cost. This is relative to other services, including telephone/mobile phone (19 percent), cable/satellite television (19 percent) and financial advice (5 percent). Consider what components you find important in a banking relationship to ensure that you are putting your money where the value is.

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If you’re in the market for a bank that fits your lifestyle, here is a list of items to consider:

On-the-go choices

Aside from product and service offerings, it is important that your bank is available when and where you need it. Online and mobile banking are convenient ways to manage your financial accounts. Three out of five respondents in the TD Bank survey stated that easy online banking was the most valuable aspect of their checking account while more than half said access to a debit card and not having to carry cash was a top element. Access to information like balances, pending transactions and banking history allows you to conveniently assess your account activities.

Convenient locations

Most banks’ checking products include unlimited access to their branches, but consider how often you use another bank’s ATM instead of your primary bank’s ATM. Your bank should provide convenient locations and easy access to your money, no matter where you are. If you prefer having easy access to a branch, look for a bank with extended store hours, so you are able to visit it in the evenings or on the weekends.

Checking with choices

Of the products offered by a bank, a consumer’s checking account is often the cornerstone of their banking relationship and you should get different checking account options. Your checking account can open the door to a larger relationship with your bank as you reach milestones in life, like buying your first home or preparing for retirement.

When deciding on a checking account, consider what you value in a bank. To find the best checking account for your lifestyle, consider the minimum monthly balance you will keep in your checking account. Some banks have minimum balance requirements as low as $100.

Choose change

If you’re unhappy with your bank’s options, the process of switching is not complicated. Some banks will even offer services to make the process hassle-free and help customers move their banking activity. TD Bank, for example, offers a ‘concierge service’ for those opening a new checking account. An employee will help switch all of a customer’s account activity from their old bank; the entire process takes about 20 minutes.

No matter the state of your current banking relationship, don’t be afraid to talk to your bank and do your research about your choices. Your bank should make you feel valued and committed to help you make the best choice to fit your lifestyle.