Checked Your Checking Account Lately?
Lori Z. Bahnmueller
Michigan Credit Union League - Your Money Matters
Have you compared checking accounts lately? You could be losing -- rather than earning -- money every month.
Sharon Stark, communications and marketing specialist as well as editor for several award-winning money management newsletters, offers the following financial advice and questions to ask so that you can determine which account is best for you:
1.Does your checking account earn interest? Many bank checking accounts don't pay interest yet at credit unions, your checking account balance earns interest.
2.How is the checking account balance calculated? The best method is the average daily balance method.
3.Is a minimum balance required? What is the minimum balance? There may be a fee each month you drop below the minimum balance for per check and monthly fees. The higher the required balance, the more likely you are to pay these fees -- and wipe out any interest earnings.
4.Are reserves deducted from your balance? To compensate for reserve requirements, some financial institutions may deduct a certain amount of your balance when computing interest. Is the rate quoted the rate paid on your balance?
5.Are there ATM fees? Many financial institutions offer ATM cards to those with checking accounts, but costs vary. You may get a free card only if you pay for each ATM withdrawal. Or you avoid the card's annual fee only by maintaining a certain balance in your checking account.
6. What about the other fees? How much does your financial institution charge for stop payment on a check, check printing and non-sufficient funds (a bounced check)?
Check cashing centers are an option for people who don't have a checking account, but you must pay to cash your check. The price to cash your check on the spot at a check cashing center ranges from 1 percent to 4 percent of the check's value. But why pay someone to cash your check unless you are desperate for cash?
The best idea is to shop around for the checking account which best meets your needs. You're likely to find that credit union fees are half what they are elsewhere. Call the financial institutions in your area and search for the best option.