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Choosing a Bank

Managing money starts with the basic skill of using a bank. The first thing to do is to open a checking account. You will be asked to provide your personal information to list on your checks. Use your legal name and your current residential address, but do not include your driver's license or social security numbers. Take these simple precautions to protect yourself against identify theft and other misuses of your blank checks.

Check with your family and friends for their recommendations on banks they have used and trust. Compare the bank's customer information and speak with a customer representative to discover the answers to the following questions:

  • Is the bank's location convenient and close to campus, home, or work?
  • How many ATM machines are close to you? Is it free to use? What hours can you access ATMs?
  • What are the differences in the types of checking accounts?
    • Accounts that earn interest generally require a minimum balance.
    • A free checking account won't earn interest, but also won't have a required balance.
  • What does free checking mean? Check what kind of fees the bank charges to use their services.
    • When are service fees charged?
    • Is there a minimum balance required?
    • What are the fees on returned checks?
    • Is there overdraft protection?
    • Are free copies of paid checks available?
  • Is online banking available for easier access?
  • Will you get a debit/check card and what will it cost you?
  • Is the bank FDIC insured? What does that mean to you?