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4

Kicking a Bank's Tires

When you're checking out a bank, don't just look for the one that's offering new customers the shiniest toasters. Here are some questions to which you should seek answers:

  • What's the interest rate on various accounts?

  • What's the minimum deposit necessary to open various accounts? What about the minimum balance necessary to avoid fees once the accounts are open?

  • What is the per-check charge? What is the charge for ordering new checks? Will the bank accept industry-standard checks printed elsewhere?

  • What's the charge for a bounced check?

  • Are canceled checks returned with the monthly statements? If not, what are the charges for having a canceled check returned?

  • What ATM fees are charged to withdraw cash or make a point-of-purchase transaction (e.g., pay for groceries, pay for gasoline, etc.) with my ATM card? Am I charged a fee to speak to a teller, rather than use the ATM for a transaction? (Some banks, such as Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) , sometimes charge fees for doing transactions through their telephone representatives.) Am I charged if I use another bank's ATM, even if they are in the same "ATM network"?

  • What online banking options are offered (if that's of interest to you)?

Learn more in our All About Banking area. Our Savings Center is also helpful if you're thinking about how to best deploy your short-term moolah.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Selena Maranjian
TMFSelena

Selena Maranjian has been writing for the Fool since 1996 and covers basic investing and personal finance topics. She also prepares the Fool's syndicated newspaper column and has written or co-written a number of Fool books. For more financial and non-financial fare (as well as silly things), follow her on Twitter...

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