With the ability to access online information via the Internet, it is much easier to compare checking accounts from offline banks than it was before the Internet age. It is also possible to compare online banks’ checking accounts as well to see how they compare against the checking accounts of offline banks. The information below should help you to compare the vast number of checking accounts to determine which one or ones would best benefit you.
The options you have to choose from when choosing a checking account include the following:
- Large National Banks – (Key Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, etc.)
- Credit Unions/Community Banks - (Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA, etc.)
- Online Banks – (Ally, ING Direct, Charles Schwab, etc.)
You also have the options of choosing the type of checking account you will have with virtually any of the above options:
MoneyPoint Live has reviews for each type of checking account below, just click on your choice of preferred checking.
- Free Checking Accounts
- High Interest Checking Accounts
- Online Checking Accounts
- No Deposit Checking (need to read fine print on these)
Large national banks will have the most branches available, so you can easily do your banking offline, as there is bound to be a branch near your home. Credit unions and community banks are more localized, so you will only be able to visit a branch if you live near the credit union’s/community bank’s central location. Online banks can be accessed virtually anywhere in the country, so your location is not a factor in applying for a checking account with them.
Large National Banks Might Charge Monthly Fees
Due to the ever-increasing competition, large national banks are making better offers and providing more benefits with their checking account products. They provide at least industry-average rates (2% or less) on most of their checking account products, but will usually charge monthly maintenance fees if you do not keep your checking account above a certain minimum balance. Their free checking accounts are usually not subject to monthly maintenance fees, but also usually do not provide interest.
Credit Unions Better Interest Rates
Credit unions/community banks usually will provide slightly better rates than most large national banks due to the fact that they don’t have as many branches to maintain and don’t have as many customers to provide service to. Again, free checking account products provided by credit unions/community banks usually do not provide interest as compensation for not charging monthly maintenance fees.
Online Banks and Checking Accounts – Few or No Branches
Online banks are different in this respect because most of them provide higher interest rates on checking accounts and often do not charge monthly maintenance fees or require minimum balances. This is because they do not have offline branches to have to maintain, and due to the fact that they don’t have to maintain branches and the fact that their customers can only access and manage their accounts online, online banks reward their customers with higher interest rates. This even applies to their lowest-tier (equivalent to other banks’ “free checking” accounts), thereby making them the most attractive option for people who don’t have to visit a branch to do their banking, who want the greatest amount of interest possible, and who want to avoid monthly maintenance fees and minimum balances.
High Interest Checking Accounts
Regarding high interest checking accounts, all three (large, credit union, online) offer high interest checking accounts, but there are usually stipulations attached to receiving the higher interest rates. With large banks and credit unions, you usually have to make 10 to 12 debit card transactions a month and you have to set up a direct deposit, ACH debit, or make one online bill payment per month in order to receive the higher interest rate. Otherwise, you will receive a much lower rate (0.50% or less).
With online banks, there is usually a minimum opening deposit that you need to open up a high interest checking account, though that deposit is sometimes as low as $1. Additionally, the higher interest rate may only be applied if your account balance is at or above a certain level, usually $1,000, though at some online banks, it’s $10,000. Again, the level your account balance is at will determine how high your interest rate is. Most online banks, however, don’t require you to have to make a certain number of debit card transactions or require direct deposit, especially since you are already doing your banking via the Internet.
Almost all Banks Offer Some Form of Online Banking
Virtually all banks and credit unions offer the option for online-only checking accounts. The reward for doing this and signing up for electronic statements is that they will usually waive the monthly maintenance fee associated with other types of checking accounts, as well as the fee for providing paper statements. Some banks and credit unions will still require a minimum account balance, while others don’t. Still, online-only banks usually provide higher interest rates on their checking accounts as compared to online-only checking accounts at offline banks and credit unions because online banks don’t have to maintain branches like banks and credit unions do.
Compare Checking Accounts and Save Money
As you can see, you have plenty of checking accounts to choose from, both offline and online. It is important to identify exactly the features you want and need from your checking account before you start comparing checking accounts so you can identify exactly which checking account is right for you. You have to carefully compare the differences between large banks, credit unions, and online banks, as well as the specific free checking accounts, high interest checking accounts, and online banking accounts that they offer. By knowing exactly what features and benefits you want from your checking account and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of banks, credit unions, and online banks, you can do the most effective comparison of checking accounts and determine the checking account or accounts that are best for you.
You might also like to open checking account no online deposit – those are available at some banks and credit unions. Just research the bank and mail your initial deposit.