Most banks and credit unions offer checking accounts, but with variations in services between them all, it can help to narrow down the best ones. Location, incentives, convenience, fees, and services tailored to your personal banking needs are some ways to nail down the best place to open a checking account.
Regardless of what you need a checking account for, having a branch for your bank nearby can be very convenient. If you need to make deposits at a physical location, make an in-person application for a loan or credit card, or need to make use of services that can only be done at a branch, it's useful to have a bank that has such a location nearby.
This is less important if you don't find yourself needing to visit a branch very often, but think about what you might need to use your bank for in the future as well.
If you already have accounts at different banks for things like credit cards, they may offer incentives for you to sign up with a checking account. These typically come in the form of cash bonuses; for example, if you start a checking account with a bank where you already have a credit card, and deposit a certain amount of money, the bank will deposit that cash bonus into your new account.
Opening a checking account where you already have a credit card comes with conveniences like making it easier to pay balances and make transfers, but if it comes down to a few otherwise equal options, look to see who might be offering incentives.
Fees and Limitations
Every bank account has a variety of fees and limitations that could affect the way you use your account. Some examples to look out for are minimum balance fees, monthly fees, ATM fees, and overdraft fees. If you need help, check average fee rates and compare what's being offered. The important thing here is how much these fees are and when they kick in. If your bank has a minimum balance fee, but you can comfortably keep that balance or meet one of the fee waiver qualifications, the fee won't be too much cause for concern.
If you regularly make many transactions, make sure there isn't also a transaction limit for deposits, withdrawals, and transfers, or that the limit isn't low enough to impact you.
When making your final decision, consider what else you'd like your bank to have. This could include wider ATM access, a solid online interface that has all the features you need, or always-available customer support. If you travel frequently or need to make transfers overseas, investigate how easily this can be done and what fees may apply.
For more information about checking accounts, contact a bank.