You’re drawn in by the big brand names, you want the certainty of having bank branches all over the place, and that’s how they get you. But it’s a new generation, you are part of that new generation and can do things better and smarter.
Low interest rates and expensive fees are two things most customers hate from traditional checking accounts. Today there are online-only accounts that have no fees attached. Interest rates for these accounts can be as much as 25 times higher than traditional savings accounts, which can help families keep the money their bank would otherwise take.
Features of new checking accounts
Checking accounts today can offer unique perks to its customers. One important perk is free ATMs. If you read our earlier article about online banking before you already know that withdrawing money from online accounts often comes with a fee. This is because the online bank must pay brick and mortar institutions in order to access their ATM network but this is not always the case. Accounts might also offer rewards for purchases made with a debit card. Rewards can save consumers up to $100 a year. This benefit is often not available in traditional brick and mortar institutions.
Checking accounts often offer more than just transactional services. You can invest with them as well. The minimum investment can be as low as $10. You can search today’s rates of return for savings and retirement accounts here.
For example, Wells Fargo offers a premium savings account that comes with 2.15 percent annual interest rate for the first twelve months. However, customers must maintain a balance of at least $25,000 to qualify for the promotional rate. According to Maurie Backman from The Motley Fool, over 40 percent of households do not have $400 in cash at hand. Also, according to a report by the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the median savings account balance is $8,100. This means most families do not have enough cash to enjoy these promotional rates.
How to switch
According to a 2017 Bank Finder Report, the average account holder pays $330 each year in fees. By searching for active promotions, you can pay between $0 and $120 in fees, depending on what’s available at the moment. Checking regularly for three months will almost surely reveal the range of all promotions for a given area.
If you’re ready to switch, you can get started with just an email account to search offers. Then, each bank will ask for other details, such as social security number. Many are restricted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
To protect customers from identity theft, the bank also has a second step that involves several questions designed to determine whether the person creating the account is who they say they are. If the system is unable to verify the identity, an additional step must be completed.
At most, applicants will need a picture of both a primary and secondary government identification document, such as a driver’s license and bank statement. Once these documents are submitted, the bank will take up to three days to verify the information and activate the account.