Get more value from your banking with the best bank accounts
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What do we mean by “best bank account”?
The best bank account will help you manage your finances properly according to your spending style. It’s also important to note that there may be more than one everyday bank account that is best for your situation. Consider what features are important to you, such as monthly fees, ATM fees and access, when selecting your bank account.
How does the best everyday bank account work for me?
First you’ll need to think about what you want out of a bank account. Is it flexibility you need, or are you happy to trade some of that flexibility for no monthly fees? The considerations listed below can help you prioritize what features are important to you.
It’s linked to your savings account
There are many banks that serve the US, all offering a range of different banking products. To make managing your money easier, you may want to think combining all your products with the one bank.
There are no monthly fees
The best bank account shouldn’t charge any monthly fees, or it’s easy for you to meet the depository conditions so the monthly fee is waived.
Assess the other fees
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your bank accounts, compare all the fees associated with your lifestyle. For example, if you do a lot of online shopping and purchase items from overseas, check to see what the international transaction fees are. Compare debit cards with low or no foreign international transaction fees here.
If you use ATM often, you may want to consider a bank account that doesn’t charge ATM fees.
You can bank online and on your phone
Many banks are now online, giving you better accessibility to your money with Internet, phone or mobile banking. If you prefer to do your banking through a smartphone, check for the availability of an app.
There’s customer service available when you need it
Look to see if the institution is strictly online or if you have the option of calling or visiting a local branch. If you prefer to talk to a teller for your financial decisions, you may want to consider a financial institution that has a physical presence.
There’s a large number of ATMs available
This is important to consider if you make frequent ATM withdrawals. Charges quickly accrue if you don’t use the ATMs in the bank’s network. See who has the largest ATM network here.
Easy overseas accessibility
There are some institutions that are based globally, allowing you easier and cheaper access to your money when traveling abroad.
What’s the best bank account for?
There are benefits to online banking — online financial institutions tend to have less overheads, and in turn pass on their profits to their customers. The ideal bank account for a digital nomad is a bank that has an online banking platform. In the US, CommBank was voted as the best bank for online banking and Beyond Bank as the best customer-owned institution.
See our moving to the U.S. guide for more information
Teens and students
If you’re about to start your first job and want to save up some extra cash, there are plenty of banks to help you, so be sure to shop around to find the best deal. Remember that if you’re under 14 years old, you’ll need to ask your parent or guardian permission to open a bank account for you.
If you’re 55 or older, you can enjoy the benefits of senior banking. This usually includes unlimited access to your bank account, including ATMs, branches, Internet and phone banking. Also, you can look forward to reduced or waived fees, as banks try to earn your business.
Using your debit card overseas usually incurs the following charges:
- International transaction fees
- Currency exchange
- Overseas ATM fee (charged by your bank)
- Local operator ATM fee (charged by the ATM owner)
While exchange rates and operator ATM fees can’t be controlled, you can control the international transaction and overseas ATM fees. There are bank accounts in the market that don’t charge these fees and can save you money when you travel.
What kind of fees can I avoid with the best bank account?
- ATM withdrawals. Banks often limit the number of ATM transactions, charging a fee for going over. They can also charge for using ATMs that are out of their network. While the big banks tend to have a larger ATM network, you may not want to dismiss the smaller players.
- POS transactions. Some banks will charge transaction fees for using point of sale payments over a certain threshold.
- Branch assistance. Many banks charge fees for transactions made at physical locations, encouraging it’s customers to use Internet or phone banking options.
- Excess transactions. You may be charged fees for exceeding the limits of transactions on your account.
- Account overdrafts. If you spend more money than you have available in your account you may be charged an overdraft fee.
To get the best bank account, ask yourself these questions:
What kind of transactions do I make?
Take a closer look at your spending habits and work out approximately how many transactions you make each month.
- You make 35 transactions per month. You may need to look for an account that offers you unlimited transactions.
- You make eight to 10 transactions per month. You’re a low transactor — keep track of your transactions and find an account that meets your needs.
Do I prefer to use cash or credit card?
If you don’t like to carry a lot of cash and prefer to pay with your debit card, an everyday account offering high or unlimited transactions each month is best for you. If you want to access cash, you can still withdraw your money using an ATM.
How close am I to a branch or ATM?
Do you have convenient access to your bank’s ATMs? Most big banks seem to have ATMs everywhere. Some smaller banks team up with larger banks, allowing for cross-bank transactions. Assess the convenience of the ATMs and bank branches near your home, school or work.
Can I avoid fees?
Fees and charges vary among banks. Take a look at any monthly fees and compare them to what you’re getting in return. Some banks may charge a transaction fee on every transaction you make while some may limit the number of transactions you can make before they charge fees. Other banks require a minimum balance to be held to waive a monthly fee. Still others require a direct deposit to be made to avoid fees. Find what works best for your lifestyle.
Am I comfortable banking online?
While almost every bank offers secure online banking, not all Internet banking is created equally. Some banks let you make deposits with your phone, transfer money between accounts, while other simply let your check your balances and pay your bills. Ask a customer service representative to give you a demonstration of what they offer.
What are my future financial goals?
If you plan on making important or drastic financial changes, you may need to change your banking. Maybe you’re getting married and are looking to opening a joint account, buying a house or your starting a big job. Whatever the circumstances, see what your bank can do to support your changing needs.
Why most of us are unwilling to change banks
We don’t want to change banks for a number of reasons: Sometimes we love our bank and sometimes we’re too lazy to make a change. If it’s not our priority to make a change, it may be because we’re getting exactly what we need from our bank. If you’re satisfied with the services your bank provides, such as it’s online services or mobile apps, you’d feel less inclined to change.
How do the best banks protect my security online?
- Banks invest in safety. Banks spend millions of dollars to protect your money, mainly because they are required to refund money to those who have been defrauded.
- Banks use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption. This gives an added layer of protection from hackers.
- There’s always password security. You’ll often find that your password needs to be a certain length and contain certain characters.
- Your personal information is encrypted. This means that the lock symbol is displayed in your browser, and the information coming in and out is scrambled.
- You’re locked out of your account if there has been too many attempts. In addition, you’re logged out of the account if there hasn’t been any activity after a few minutes. There are also firewalls in place so only authorized people can log in.
- You’ll need to use SMS codes. To ensure you say who you are, banks will also send codes to your phone to authorize new transactions.