If you’re comparing checking accounts, what are the features that one should consider? It’s not all about the interest rate. In no particular order, I would want:
Low minimum balance requirement – This helps include more people, and there is less stress about low-balance or maintenance fees.
Consistently high interest rate – I would think that a history of competitive rates and also the ability to keep those rates high yet still be profitable is important. I would guess that this means either restricting the accounts to people comfortable with the internet and thus less likely to need too much hand-holding or human interaction, or having a strong mortgage division.
Easy to make withdrawals – This could mean a large ATM branch network or automatic ATM fee rebates. Free wire transfers and money orders would also be a plus.
Easy to make deposits – Depending on your preference and how often you need checks, here you would need either local ATMs, postage-paid deposit envelopes, or even the new system at a few banks where you can simply scan in your check deposits from home.
Easy to transfer money between banks – This means being able to initiate transfers to other bank accounts through your account with only the routing number and account number. Also, this means being able to access your account by third parties in the same way. On the other hand, maybe some people like this to be restricted for security reasons?
Online interface – Being able to see your account balances clearly at a glance, dependable online BillPay, and a good balance between security and accessibility. Don’t require my passwords to be 18 characters long and a retina scan to log in.
Customer Service – Even though I don’t call in very often, being able to reach a knowledgeable and helpful human when needed in is very important to me. A good online messaging systems is also good for creating a paper trail.
The Rest – Some other things that come to mind are free checks, low or no overdraft fees, overdraft protection, free notary services, extended branch hours, drive-up ATMs, Quicken or MS Money synchronization, return of canceled checks, and free candy at the teller windows
I feel like I’m still missing something…
By Jonathan Ping | Banking | 4/19/07, 3:01am