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Checking account is a non interest bearing bank account that allows the accountholder to write checks against the deposited funds in the account. Once you open a checking account the bank will give you a debit card that you use it to make electronic purchases, ATM withdrawals, online purchases etc. where the card is accepted. The card could be a visa card, master card or anything else. In most point of sales, and all ATMs you are required to punch in your PIN (Personal Identification Number) also called password to access your account.
There are different of kinds of fees involved when you open a new checking account. So be careful when you shop for one. Although all checking accounts serve the same purpose, banks have different offers and deals that ranges from free account with no minimum balance to an account with minimum balance and monthly maintenance fees.
You might be wondering why some banks add charges on their checking account or require minimum balance on the account despite the availability of the very same checking account for free in other financial institutions. Well, the answer is due to the difference in the type and quality of service they provide. Think of differences in location or availability in public areas, ATM accessibility, number of branch offices and so on. Local banks are usually cheaper than national once. It is simply because the don’t have that many ATMs and offices to serve the customer especially out of their territory. So paying low maintenance fee for a bank with hundreds of thousands ATMs through out the nation is better than opening a free checking account from a bank with few hundreds of ATMs. Why? Simply because everywhere you go you are going to need to withdraw money and your bank’s ATM is not around all you see is the other banks ATMs. every time you withdraw cash from an ATM which is not owned by your bank, you will be charged service fees which in most cases exceed the low maintenance fee.
Things you need to pay attention when shopping for checking account:
* size of the bank in terms of availability of branch offices in major cities
* availability of ATMs in major public areas, like shopping centers, malls …etc
* compare plans and choose the one that suits your life style. Some of the plans include
- No maintenance fee every month you make a deposit to your account
- Free checking account with minimum balance required
- promotional free checking account
* the kind of debit card (visa, master card etc) they provide
* the security and theft of identity protection they provide
* do they have free online services that allow you to make bill payments from the comfort of your home online or do you have to walk to the nearest post office on sunny or cold weather to drop checks. Moreover, think of running out of checks now and then.
* are they available 24/7 to help you any time day or night when you need them.
* last but not least ask the consultant to help you identify the one that suits you and ask as many questions as possible that come to your attention until you fully understand what is going on and clear up your doubts. This will help you avoid surprises that would have been occurred otherwise when you receive your monthly account summary.