Choosing your Financial Institution

What was the very first financial choice you ever made? It likely took place before your first job, even as far back as when your annual income consisted of Tooth Fairy money and lucky pennies. It is also one of the most important choices—it’s where to keep your money.

 

 

Figure out your banking priorities. Here are some factors to consider:

Am I eligible for an account?
Banks are open to anyone. Credit unions have membership requirements, but don’t let that intimidate you! Requirements can be as simple as living in a certain community or working in a certain field.

How much does it cost to get set up?
Are there any fees associated with opening an account? Is there a minimum balance required? Joining a credit union involves purchasing a share (ours is $10), but this is different from a fee—it means you’re a member-owner of the credit union.

Will I have good access to ATMs?
You might feel as though you see larger bank ATMs everywhere, but credit union ATMs are just as accessible. In fact, the largest credit union ATM network is actually larger than the largest bank ATM network. Find out which other financial institutions share your local credit union’s network—free ATM transactions are not limited to machines with a particular credit union name on them.

What can I do online?
More and more financial institutions are offering online banking services. Find out what you can do from your computer and smartphone. Can you check your balance Schedule payments? Transfer money between accounts? Taking advantage of online products can be super-convenient, and can avoid a trip to the ATM or the nearest branch.

And speaking of the nearest branch, where is it?
Find out what the hours of operation are and how they work with your schedule. Find out if you can bank through other branches, too. This could come in handy if there’s a location close to work or school.

What can my financial institution do for me?
Ask about products that are tailored to your situation. How do the interest rates compare to other financial institutions? Are there free products you’re eligible for? Don’t settle for a financial institution just because you need an account—you should also want to have an account there.
 
View Handout >