There are more than 4,500 banks in the United States. I am sure we all just remember the major names. But do the major names provide us with what we need? How do I know where should I open a checking account?
Before you answer this question, you need to better understand what kind of banks exist in the US.
- Large National Banks: these are the largest banks in the US by assets and have their presence all over the United States. These banks are nationally recognized and usually have a good branch and atm network.
- Community Banks / Regional Banks: those are smaller local banks that are based in your community, county, city or region (state). They provide the same service as large national banks but at a smaller scale. Most of the time they offer more personal service and support local community.
- Credit Unions: offer same financial services as banks, the difference is that they are not for profit organizations. Basically, instead of shareholders they support their members, their members are their shareholders. To be able to use the service of the credit union you need to become member first. Credit Unions are best places for better rates on the lending products and credit cards, checking accounts etc. This is due to the fact that they give back everything to their members.
- Internet / Digital Banks: these are the banks that only have a digital presence, you will not find their branches or ATMs. The benefits of banking with Internet only banks is that due to their cost structure they offer better fees and interests for their products.
You need to be able to answer couple of questions before you make a decision on where to bank:
- What is important to you: do you need expansive branch network or are you ok doing everything online?
- Do you prefer having face to face interaction with bankers and personal approach?
- Will you have a lot of cash operations?
Once you answer those questions you will understand where to open an account.
Whatever you decide make sure you don’t pay any monthly fees for your account and you pay no fees when using ATMs. Obviously as you learned from my previous post you want to make sure the bank is FDIC insured and Credit Union is insured by National Credit Union Administration.
You must know by now that a lot of banks offer sign up bonuses when you open accounts with them. That’s a good idea to open your account and after you meet bonus criteria, however always make sure you read terms and conditions and fine print.
From my experience I have an account with one large national bank and two internet banks. I like the convenience of the internet banks and have not visited the branch of the large national bank for more than a year.
I want to suggest few online banks and frankly I am a customer of few of those and am quite happy. For large banks that’s a matter of preference and your lifestyle, same goes to the regional and community banks. Remember that to qualify for Credit Union you will need
Online banks (remember no branches) are available everywhere so here are my few suggestions:
- Sofi Money – why I like it? No fees, gives cashback (check terms and conditions) and reimburses your ATM fees including worldwide!
- Discover Checking – why I like it? No fees (check ATM network) and gives 1% cashback a month on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases.
- CIT Bank – why I like it? No monthly fees and they reimburse up to $15 in other ATM withdrawals every month.
- Radius Bank – why I like it? It has an option of early direct deposit, which means you might be getting your salary up to 2 days earlier. Check the site for more info. Another good thing about Radius Bank is that they offer unlimited ATM fees and interest on your money (you need to meet certain criteria).
If you know some other good online banks feel free to share! Let us know where do you bank and if you are happy with your bank in comments below.