How to Choose the Best Checking Account

Posted on October 27, 2022

A woman chooses a bank account that offers mobile banking.

The key to choosing the right checking account is knowing what you need and want. You may be willing to pay a small monthly fee so you can take advantage of advanced features, or you may want a simple account with no recurring fees. Whatever type of checking account you choose, make sure it offers free Online and Mobile Banking services plus features like Bill Pay and Mobile Deposit.

Read on to find out what to look for in an account, what to avoid, and how to choose the right account from all the different types that are available today.

What to Consider When Choosing a Checking Account

There are many types of checking account options out there, so how to choose the one that’s best for you? Here are six tips for choosing an account that will meet your needs without breaking the budget.

1. Compare What You Get for a Fee vs. Free

When finding a checking account, you need to check all possible fees you may be charged. A Free Checking Account may seem like a good deal because it has no monthly fee, but be aware you may miss out on many useful services and features or you may need to pay for things that come free with other accounts.

Monthly maintenance fees can be as much as $15. If you opt for an account with a monthly fee, look for a financial institution that charges an affordable amount with valuable benefits.

In return for your monthly fee, make sure you’re getting free checks, free replacement debit cards, free credit monitoring, ID theft recovery, mobile insurance, and overdraft protection.

2. Look for Free Online Access

You should not be charged to access Online Banking from home or work. Mobile-friendly services like Mobile Deposit are common and essential in today’s world so you don’t have to visit a brick-and-mortar institution. You should also be able to pay bills online without incurring additional fees.

3. Make Sure the Mobile App Is Free

Mobile Banking apps make it easy to manage your account anytime, anywhere. You can check your balance, transfer funds, and even deposit checks. But some financial institutions charge extra for their apps, and some limit the types of transactions you can perform. Be sure to compare Mobile App services and fees before choosing an account.

4. Decide If You Can Meet the Minimum Balance Requirement

Some banks and credit unions may charge a monthly fee unless you maintain a balance above a certain amount. The minimum could be anything from $100 to $5,000. If you don’t think you can maintain that balance, then you should choose a different account with no minimum balance requirement.

5. Ask About Other Perks

Your account may come with bonus features like discounts on car insurance, mortgages, and credit cards. Some financial institutions provide ATM reimbursements on out-of-network fees and overdraft protection. Look into these benefits and figure out which ones would make the most difference in your life.

6. Find Out What ATMs Are Available

A traditional bank may charge you a fee to use any ATM from a different financial institution. On the other hand, credit unions often belong to a nationwide network and you can use their in-network ATMs free of charge. Before you sign up, make sure there are ATMs near you that you can use fee-free.

7. Check the Security Measures

Checking accounts may offer a range of security features, but some may offer none at all. You can look into the security services available and consider whether you need them to protect your assets. You may decide your financial activity is low risk and you don’t need all the high-level protections available with some accounts, or you may want as much protection as possible.

8. Consider Your Relationship With Your Financial Institution

A man writes a check drawing on his checking account.
When you open a checking account, you’re opening the doors to other financial products and services, as well as the chance to form an ongoing relationship with the financial institution. Ask yourself if you prefer a local credit union where you can form a relationship with the tellers and other employees, or if you prefer a national chain with many locations across the country.

Credit unions tend to offer specialized local member services, while banks offer general customer service.

What Is a Checking Account Used For?

You can use your checking account to make deposits into your account, write checks against it, and withdraw cash from ATMs. But you can do much more than those three actions. A checking account is also known as a transaction account, meaning that you can perform transactions such as transferring funds electronically or sending a paper check from the account to pay someone else.

What Is a Checking Account Used For?

5 Types Of Checking Accounts

Here are five popular checking account options beyond a standard personal account. Each has its benefits, and some cater to a specific population. If you’re not sure how to choose a checking account, you can consider whether any of these accounts can benefit your financial status and needs – or if a standard account is more suitable.

1. Premium Checking Account

To get the best, you sometimes need to pay a little extra. Most Premium account options require a monthly fee. In return, you get a wide range of features, protections, and free products that may not be available with a free account. For example, you may get a free replacement debit card, free checks, ID theft protection, credit monitoring, and phone insurance all for $6 per month.

2. Free Checking Account

A free checking account can be a good option because you don’t have to pay monthly maintenance fees to keep it open. Many monthly bank fees range from $3 to $12 or more per month, so you can save over $100 per year in fees alone. The downside is that a free account may not offer all the features other accounts may offer.

3. High-Yield Checking Account

A high-yield checking account allows you to earn higher interest rates on the money in your account. This is useful if you plan to maintain a high balance so you can see more benefits over time. Keep in mind that this account isn’t designed to be a long-term savings account – there are many better options for saving money, like Money Market Accounts.

4. Rewards Checking Account

A rewards account may let you earn a percentage of cash back on your debit card purchases, or you may collect points to redeem for awards like merchandise and travel. Your eligibility to earn the rewards can vary, so it’s important to review the details and take notice of spending categories or other restrictions. These features are also common with credit cards.

5. Student Checking Account

A student account is specifically designed to support young adults during their crucial transitional period in high school and/or college. For this reason, the fees are low, yet you have access to many banking privileges, including using a debit card and mobile banking.

6. Second Chance Checking Account

If your credit means you can’t qualify for a standard checking account, you may be able to open a second chance checking account. This account is designed to help you recover from financial difficulties like a low credit score or poor banking history. You can then establish a good banking history and positive spending habits so you can move to a regular account.

Partners Financial Credit Union Checking Accounts

At Partner’s Financial Credit Union, we want to make choosing a checking account easier. That’s why we have streamlined our offerings with two great options to suit your needs and wants.

Both our checking accounts come with all these features free of charge:

  • Online Services
  • Mobile Banking
  • Bill Pay
  • Direct Deposit
  • Mobile Deposit so you can deposit a check without visiting a branch
  • Debit card access
  • Surcharge-free ATMs in the Culiance Network
  • Occasional overdraft privilege service (OOPS)
  • e-Statements
  • Notary service
  • Phone pal

Premium Checking Account

As well as all the standard checking account features, our Premium Checking Account comes with a range of protection services including fully managed ID Theft recovery, credit monitoring, dark web monitoring, and mobile phone insurance. Plus, consumer loan discounts!

Basic Checking Account

Our Basic Checking Account offers essential services with no fuss and no frills. This is a standard personal checking account with an opening deposit of $25, no monthly fee, and no minimum balance requirement each month.

Next Steps: How to Choose a Checking Account to Suit Your Needs

Partners Financial Credit Union offers two convenient checking accounts to fit different lifestyles and goals. If you’re still wondering how to choose an account, you can click below to see details about each option, key benefits, and a handy table to compare checking account features.

Partners FCU Checking Account Options

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A $15. Convenience fee will be automatically added to your payment amount. Your maximum total payment amount (including the $15 convenience fee) cannot exceed $800. Payments initiated and approved by 3:00pm will be applied to your loan on the same business day. Payments initiated and approved after 3:00pm, or on a day that the credit union is closed (weekends and holidays), will be applied on the next business day. If you have a PFFCU debit card, please log into home banking to make your loan payment.

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Excludes mortgages and home equity lines of credit. A $25 fee is due at set-up for each loan. Loan must have been open for at least 6 months. Past due accounts do not qualify. One skip-a-pay allowed per calendar year (Jan-Dec).