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How to Choose the Best Checking Account

By Staff Writers

Some people put more thought into the design on their checks than choosing a checking account. Yes, having Hello Kitty on your hot pink rent check rocks, but your checking account should be about more than color coordination. It should be about saving your green.

Most see a checking account as not much more than a high-tech wallet: You put money in and take money out as needed. But checking accounts are not that simple. Choosing the wrong checking account can actually end up costing you money. It pays to take the time to ask youself, Will this checking account work for me?

Ask the Right Questions
Finding the right checking account can be like finding the right pair of jeans. Some fit you better than others. The perfect fit for a checking account starts with finding the right bank. Some questions to consider include: How many branches and ATMs are in your area? Are there ATMs by your home and your work? If not, how does the bank handle ATM fees? What are the banking hours? (If your bank closes every day before you get off work, you’ll only have Saturday for banking business.) Does your bank offer online banking? If you handle any financial information electronically, the ability to bank online is a must.

Don't Forget About Fees
Checking accounts often come with a whole host of fees that can add up to big bucks down the road. You can avoid most, if not all, of these fees by choosing a fee-free checking account. Some free checking accounts have no strings attached, but others will have rules, such as requiring your paycheck to be directly deposited into the account. What about the number of checks you write in a month? If you write a lot of checks, avoid checking accounts that limit the number of checks you can write or charge a per-check transaction fee. Also, look for accounts that offer free check printing. If you mostly bank online and use a debit card, you may not need any checks at all. sbup has more tips on keeping your  checking account cheap.

Can You Earn Interest?
Believe it or not, some checking accounts offer interest rates that rival a savings account. The catch is that you have to keep a high balance in your checking account. Sometimes, the higher the balance you have, the higher the interest rate you'll get. If you choose a smaller neighborhood bank or credit union, you may qualify for a “rewards” checking account that could carry an interest rate as high as 5 to 6%. Here are some more tips on finding these type of accounts.

That’s money in the bank!

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