4 Tips to Get the Best Bank Account
When you’re a kid, deciding where to put your money is simple: a piggy bank. The choices get more complex when dealing with an actual bank. How can you select the best bank account for you?
Within the basic categories – savings accounts, chequing accounts, and combination accounts – every bank offers its own account packages. To narrow down the options, think about the services you typically require and how you use your account.
1. Focus Your Needs
- How frequently do you do withdrawals or transfers, write cheques, make bill payments, or have debit card purchases?
- Do you ever use certified cheques, money orders, bank drafts, or travellers’ cheques?
- Do you need overdraft protection? A line of credit?
- Depending on how often you use specialized services, does it might make more sense to get a broader banking package or pay extra service charges as you go?
- Do you like to bank in person (some in-branch transactions can cost more), at an ABM, or through telephone or online banking?
- How do you want your records (e.g. monthly statement, cheques returned, etc.)?
2. Learn About Fees
Fees will differ according to the type of account. Some basic accounts charge you for each transaction, while others allow a set number of transactions each month for a flat fee. So what seems like the cheapest account isn’t necessarily true. Also, some or all of your monthly fees could be waived, with certain accounts, if you maintain a minimum balance at all times during the month.
With the all the variables, review the choices between different banks and within the same bank. The Canadian Bankers Association (check under “consumer information”) offers a list of banking needs/preferences, which you can check off and take to your bank to help find the account that suits you. Remember too that some banks offer special low-fee or even no-fee packages for youths, students and seniors.
Comparison Shop Online
Another great way to shop around is to go to the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Check under the “for consumers” section for their interactive tools. The handy which bank accounts are right for you lets you compare the interest rates and features of dozens of savings and chequing packages. You can also find information on the low-cost accounts (maximum $4/month) offered by eight banks in Canada.
Besides helping you sort through your account choices, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada details your rights and responsibilities when dealing with financial institutions, and offers information to help you understand and choose other financial products and services. Check for more online or call the FCAC toll-free at 1-866-461-3222.