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How to Spot a Really Great Checking Account

You’ve had enough! Your current bank and checking account just aren’t doing it for you anymore and you need to find something new. In this case, it’s definitely not you, it’s them. Millions of Americans change bank accounts every year and the banks are getting wise – they’ve begun offering lots of discounts and promotions to get you to sign up. But, do you know how to spot a really great checking account?

The account

The first thing you need to look for when trying to spot a great checking account is to find one that’s free.

Don’t be fooled by promotions saying the account will be free for three-months or if you have a minimum balance of $5,000 – find an account that has no monthly maintenance fees, no minimum fees and no hidden fees.

If the checking account you’re eyeing pays out interest, make sure that you understand the rate and how it’s structured. Some promotions will offer you a great interest rate for a short period, but will end up decreasing the rate once the promotional period is over. Read the fine print and only choose a checking account that has a rate structure you can understand.

Next, you’ll want a checking account that offers you free ATM transactions. This doesn’t mean free ATM transactions only at your bank (most checking accounts offer that, and remember, you want a really great checking account). Look for checking accounts which offer free transactions at any ATM. Not only will this be more convenient for you, you’ll also save money.

Finally, any great checking account will come with built-in tools like Personal Financial Management. Built-in tools like this let you manage your money by tracking where it’s coming in and where it’s going out. Financial management is the first step towards wealth-building and if you don’t use the built-in tools, you aren’t serious about getting rich.

The bank

By this point, you’ve probably found a couple of checking accounts that look promising. Before you jump in the car and head to the nearest branch, you’ll want to be sure that the bank that’s offering your preferred checking account is a good fit for you.

First, make sure the bank is FDIC-insured and has a longstanding history. A longstanding history will make the bank less likely to become insolvent, and being FDIC-insured means that, if the bank does become insolvent, your money won’t be gone forever.

In many cases, a virtual bank will be the best fit for your lifestyle. Virtual banks allow you to move anywhere in the country and still keep that really great checking account. Virtual banks also tend to pay out high interest rates on checking accounts because they a less expensive business model (all those bank pens on chains cost money that virtual banks don’t have to spend). For example, the Radius Hybrid Checking account earns 20x the national average.

Regardless of whether you love your bank or not, you should always be on the hunt for a really great checking account. The old saying “a penny saved is a penny earned” still holds true today, so stop throwing money away on a bad checking account.

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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