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)?