My Green Debit Card: Opening a bank account taught me responsibility—the hard way
Shopping for a Bank: Things to Look for
When I opened my first bank account, I didn't ask a lot of questions, and that helped me end up in a big financial mess. You need to know what kind of bank is best for you and understand the pros and cons of opening an account at that bank.
- Low fees, and a "no fee" checking account. A fee is an amount of money a bank charges you for things like using another bank's ATM, or overdrafting (spending more than you have in your account).
- An account with no minimum balance. Some banks charge fees if the money in your account, or balance, drops below a certain amount.
- A bank that has its own ATMs, including ATMs near where you live and/or work or go to school, so you won't end up using other banks' or businesses' ATMs (for a fee).
Five Things to Ask Before Opening an Account
Just because you go in to talk to a bank representative about opening an account doesn't mean you have to open one at that particular bank. Here are some questions you should ask:
- What types of bank accounts do you have, and what fees do you charge?
- What is the minimum amount of money (minimum balance) I have to keep in my bank account? What happens if my balance goes below that?
- What is the fee if I use another bank's ATM?
- How do I know if my account has a negative balance? What are the overdraft fees if I have a negative balance?
- How can I transfer money between my checking and savings accounts? Is there a limit to how many times I can transfer money between accounts each month?