5 Questions To Ask Before You Open A Checking Account

Posted on: 10 May 2023


What do you need to know before you open a checking account? If this is your first solo account, take a look at the questions to ask your bank of choice right now.

Does the Bank Have Nearby Physical Branches?

Will you need to occasionally (or always) go into a physical branch to deposit cash, checks, or make withdrawals? If you prefer in-person face-to-face interactions over virtual ones, ATM deposits, or using an app, make sure that the bank has a branch office near you. But if you are comfortable with doing all of your banking online or in an app, you won't need to ask this question.

Are All Checking Accounts the Same?

Not all checking accounts are the same. Will you sign up for a checking account that grows interest, connects to other bank accounts, or has other features? If you are looking for an account with special benefits, talk to the banker about your options. 

What Are the Fees Involved?

Common checking account fees include overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, insufficient funds fees, stop payment fees, and ATM fees. Some banks may not charge an ATM fee if you withdraw money from one of their machines. But they may charge an out-of-network fee for ATM withdrawals made at other banks (or when using ATM machines owned by another bank). 

If you need to write checks, ask the bank for more information on the associated fees. You may need to pay for new checks and to reorder checks. These fees vary by bank and could include a range of prices, depending on the type of checks you choose and the delivery method.

Do You Have An Easy-To-Use Mobile App?

According to Forbes Advisor, in 2022, 78 percent of American adults preferred mobile or digital banking to the in-person (branch banking) option. If you're one of the many people in the U.S. who would rather use your phone to bank, ask about the mobile option. Does the bank have its own app? If so, how easy is it to use? You may want to ask to see a demo of the app before you choose to open a checking account.

Is There A Balance Minimum To Maintain?

Some banks may offer free checking if customers maintain a minimum balance. If your bank offers this type of deal or has additional fees for going under a set limit, ask what the minimum is for an individual checking account. 

You may also need to learn more about minimums and linked accounts. A linked account clause or option removes the balance rule for every account you own if the combined sum is higher than a stated minimum balance. This means your checking, money market, savings, and other accounts will all factor into the minimum maintenance requirement.