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 seek answers to:

  • What's the interest rate on various accounts?

  • What's the minimum deposit necessary to open various accounts? And, how 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 is 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? 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)?

You can get more perspectives on banking in our Online Banking discussion board. Our Savings Center is helpful if you're thinking about how to best deploy your short-term moolah. And you can learn all about brokerages and find one that's right for you in our Broker Center.