Checking accounts are pivotal to our lives, so we better get the most we can out of them. We don't just mean money, either. Some banking institutions offer perks, interest, and fee-less checking to all of their account holders.
We all get comfortable with the bank we have, but there are so many perks being offered at other banks. The grass isn't always greener on the other side, sometimes your current bank or credit union is just not telling you about their premium offerings. Here are some of the hidden perks you'll want to watch out for.
Aside from being easily accessible, having your cash sitting in a checking account isn't really doing anything for you. What if I told you there's a way to at least have that coin doing a little work for you? You'll just have to shop around for a checking account that bears interest. More banks are starting to offer this feature as an incentive to get you as a customer.
These checking interest rates are not huge, usually 0.02-0.05%, but you can often find something higher if you're willing to go with an online bank. For you high rollers out there, most of these interest rates are tiered. That means the more you put in the more you earn. Often times $10,000 or more will get you higher rates.
The headache of changing your financial institution could pay off. Literally. Some banks are now offering a signup bonus to gain new customers. These bonuses are usually $100- $300, but they do come with some stipulations to earn them. Some common requirements are:
- Have not been a customer in the last 12 months
- Minimum deposit requirements
- Must have the account open 3 months or longer
While most of these aren't difficult to meet, be wary of them. Not fulfilling the requirements means you could lose that bonus altogether.
Never pay a monthly fee
Checking accounts of old, which you may still have, came with a fee each month just for doing business with that bank. If you're still paying a monthly fee just to have an account, it may be time to shop around. Banks today will give free checking and all of the other perks we are discussing.
Make sure your next account isn't hiding this fee in the fine print. Even if there is a fee, there may be ways around it. Some banks require a minimum amount in the account or to have a certain amount of direct deposits per month (these terms vary from bank to bank depending on the type of account) to avoid the fee. If you're not sure you can get around it, you'll want to make sure to find an account you can use for free.
No overdraft fees
The days of fees mounting in your account after making a mistake can be gone, too. We have all made the mistake of pulling out too much money, overspending, or not realizing automatic payments were coming. This would put us in the red until the next payday and cost a fee for each charge while you're in the negative.
Banks are now offering accounts with either overdraft protection or no overdraft fees. These accounts would require a savings account for the protection, or they offer no fees period. The only requirements are usually a regular direct deposit that makes sure you will cover any overages in the future.
We've all been somewhere and needed cash fast. ATM's are notorious for charging a fee jjust for the access to your own money. Banks now offer reimbursements for the fees accrued outside of their ATM network.
Once a month you could send in the receipts or ask to have these fees reimbursed directly to your account. This is especially helpful if you travel frequently or just like using cash. The fees for convenience will not drag your account down again.
Nobody likes standing in line at the bank. If you deal with paper checks often, it can be a real hassle to get them deposited. Taking time out of your day to make a trip to the bank is an annoyance at best.
Most banks now offer mobile deposits right from your smartphone. By taking a picture of the front and back of the check, you are deposited it directly into your account. Not all banks offer this, but you should look into it at your bank (and think about switching if your current institution doesn't offer it).
The deposit does not necessarily get into your account faster. They still need to process the check as normal, but you won't have to wait in line at the bank just to deposit that $5 birthday check from your grandparents.
Ask for leniency
Good customer service involves making you, the consumer, a happy camper. That means they want you to stay a customer at their bank, and what better way to convince a customer they're in the right place than showing a little mercy?
Don't be afraid to call them up and ask for leniency for any fees you may have incurred. If your bank is one of the ones that still has overdraft fees, then they may be willing to remove them if you ask nicely. Don't do this frequently, however, because their generosity will only go so far.
Be aware of your options
As a consumer, you have all of the power. These banks are vying for your business and will give you all sorts of perks to bring you in. It is in your best interest to not only be aware, but take advantage of all the hidden perks of your checking account.
Don't let a bonus slip between your fingers because you weren't aware it was offered. All of these perks will keep more money in our indispensable checking accounts.