What To Consider When Selecting a Bank or Credit Union

A mattress or refrigerator may have worked for your grandparents to store their money, but hiding your money in your mattress likely won’t offer you the same perks a bank or credit union will.  Before signing up, there are many factors to consider.   There is no one size fits all solution for every person, so we’ve listed below the top factors to consider when evaluating your preferences.  The top seven things you should consider when choosing a banking institution are:

Top 7 List

  1. Find out if your bank requires a minimum balance. Low balances can be troublesome if you fall below the minimum and get charged additional fees. 
  2. Good website user experience and customer service are essential. Talk to your friends and research your bank online to see what other customers are saying. Visit your bank’s website to ensure it doesn’t look like it was last updated in 1997.  
  3. Ability to access funds.  Some banks offer an early release of deposits which is an excellent feature for those living on a tight budget.
  4. Only use banks or credit unions that are insured! Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (for banks) or the National Credit Union Association (for credit unions). Insurance ensures your money is protected and will be available when you need it.
  5. Avoid banks with monthly fees, high ATM fees, transfer fees, and additional fees for account assistance. Keep in mind that some banks offer rebates for ATM fees. Online bill pay should be free, but make sure it is before signing up. 
  6. Ease of deposit and branch availability.  If you want to deposit cash frequently, then select a bank with many locations near you. 
  7. Pay attention to Interest rates!  Get an account that pays high interest on your deposits and charges low interest on your debts. Ensuring you have good rates will translate to significantly more money in your account over time!

Hopefully, you now see the benefits of opening an account and what you should avoid. Once you set up your account, be sure to read our other content for best practices on saving for your future!


College Savings Calculator is a hypothetical tool that demonstrates how monthly contributions, age-based asset rebalancing, and tax savings may impact the long-term value of your account, and do not take into account a portfolio’s underlying investment management fees. Calculations assume the private institution cost inflation is 2.8%, public out of state cost inflation is 3.9%, public in state cost inflation is 2.7%. Portfolio is assumed to have only stocks and bonds. Monthly equity returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the stock market (SPY). Monthly fixed income returns are based on the historical data from the 10-year track record of the bond market index (AGG). The current college expenses are provided by the collegeboard.org. Actual account performance may differ due to market fluctuations, changes in recurring investments, and asset allocation. The information provided here is for illustrative purposes only and does not represent actual or future performance of any investment option and is not intended to predict or project the investment performance of any security or index.