Banking, as defined by a dictionary, is the act of business being conducted through the services offered by a bank. Seems quite simple and straight forward! It also seems straight forward that the bank and or credit union holds your money safely, you can use when you need to, and maybe you’ll get a little interest in your account. If only it was still that simple!
These days, banks and credit unions are one complicated mess! Mortgages go through them, loans of all types go through them, business accounts and personal accounts exist in them. Credit scores rear their ugly heads too within all that hootenanny. Credit cards, too, can be given through banks. Not to mention with everything being online these days, everything is intermingled together and seems to not be real, right? Accounts seem to be nothing but online numbers that show up on your screen or are on a plastic card ready to be swiped.
To make matters even more complexed, there’s always new banks popping up, or changing names, or being bought out, etc. It can be difficult to know which bank is right for you, not only for you to be happy with, but also to have a bank that suits your business needs for the best advantage. Also, if you’re a hardworking entrepreneur with your own business, it’s important to have a bank that works with you, not against you and is compatible with whatever system you use (i.e. QuickBooks).
With options like: Hometown Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Freedom First, Union, Salem Credit Union, Home Trust Bank, Suntrust, Navy Federal Credit Union, Woodforest National, Carter Bank and Trust and the like, it’s hard to know which is right for you. If all you need is a place to have a savings and checking account, choosing a bank isn’t too hard. But for things like your business accounts, for loans, mortgages, etc., researching banks is handy and highly recommended.
Therefore, we recommend that you play the field when it comes to banks; kind of like dating. First things first, look sharp, get your game face on, and don’t let them see you sweat! Start with an open mind and use your research like the first date. See what you like and what you don’t like, ask some questions to see if you’ll like and agree with the answers, flirt with the idea of how life would be with them, and if there’s no chemistry, don’t be afraid to walk away to check out other fish in the sea. So we’ve put a small list together for topic questions you may need if your first date needs a boost.
Here are some things to look for:
- Do you want a local or national bank?
- Do you want a bank or credit union and what’s the difference between the two?
- Interest rates
- Maintenance fees
- If there’s a limit to the number of swipes for your card
- If there’s a price range that triggers a fraud alert
- How your bank handles potential fraud charges and how do they contact you about it
- Bank hours and drive thru hours
- Do they offer online banking?
- Do they integrate with QuickBooks or whatever system you may use?
- What are the terms and interest rates for loans?
- ATMs and if have fees for using other banks ATMs
The questions could go on forever in terms of finding the best bank, just keep in mind, no institution is perfect; just like no person you date is perfect. It’s all about what’s most important to you and which bank meets those needs. As always, there’s no stupid questions when trying to find the right bank, it only hurts you if you don’t ask. But if the idea of checking out all the local banks seems exhausting to you, feel free to talk to trusted friends and family about their thoughts and experiences!
Happy hunting, may the odds be ever in your favor!