Checking Account Reviews

Checking accounts provide consumers with safe, reliable methods to manage money and complete financial transactions on a day-to-day basis. Although many people feel that they do not need a checking account, these consumers usually pay high fees to money transfer companies and retailers to make last minute bill payments and send money to loved ones. If a late payment or other transaction problem occurs, they must also typically wait weeks or months for the company to correct the error.

The advantages of a checking account go beyond electronic transfers and quick resolutions. A checking account gives you the ability to store your money safely when you do not need it and to access it instantly through bank and credit union branches and automatic teller machines when you do need it. As part of this money-handling flexibility, you also have the option to use convenient checks and debit cards for transactions instead of cash.

Whether you have had a checking account in the past or you need one for the first time in your life, it is important that you research available options thoroughly so that you choose a financial institution and checking account product that best fits your needs. The reviews available on our website can aid you in making that informed decision.

The Value of Consumer Reviews

Reviews give you the opportunity to hear about the experiences that consumers like you have had with different institutions and banking products and services. We ask all reviewers to provide details about interest rates, services fees, customer service and their overall satisfaction. We also ask reviewers to submit summaries of their experiences so that you can receive plenty of word-of-mouth advice. You might receive similar advice from family, co-workers and close friends, but consumer reviews provide you with a lot more information given from a wider range of diverse national and international perspectives.

Specific Important Areas to Consider

Although we prompt reviewers to provide certain details, they often supply more information about a financial institution and one or more banking products. We strongly encourage all visitors to our website to look for details related to the following areas when comparing financial institutions and checking account products:

  • Interest-Bearing Account Rates
    Banks and credit unions often offer investor interest-bearing checking accounts where the institution pays you for trusting them with your money and allowing them access to it as needed. The bank or credit union bases the amount that they pay on an interest rate. If you want an interest-bearing account, you should look for a checking account product that offers the highest rate possible.
  • Minimum Balance Fee
    Although some financial institutions still offer "free" checking accounts that have no minimum balance requirements, many of them have transitioned away from free checking entirely or only offer free checking as a new customer incentive for the first six months or year that you keep the account. Either way, the minimum balance fee, which you might also see described as a "service charge" or "calculated service charge," occurs on a checking account when you fail to keep a specific average amount of money in the account throughout a statement period or you allow the balance level to drop once below the minimum balance requirement.
  • Fine Print Fees
    Many consumers do not realize that certain fees exist until those fees show up on their monthly billing statements. This problem typically occurs because some sales reps fail to discuss all of the potential fees related to products, services and depositor actions that are often buried in the fine print of a new checking account contract. For example, you might receive a fee for requesting a replacement debit card, a cashier's check or an early account closure. Some institutions charge their customers a fee for receiving paper statements. It is important to note that several different fees can have similar descriptors. A "service charge fee," for example, does not always relate to a minimum balance. Some institutions use this term when referring to a separate "administrative" or "maintenance" fee. You might discover that the only indication of any difference between service charge fees is one or two words or a two- to four-digit alphanumeric code next to the descriptor.
  • Mobile Check and ATM Deposits
    Banks and credit unions that offer state-of-the-art services often permit account holders to deposit a wide variety of checks, including paychecks, gift checks and rebate checks, remotely either via a desktop scanner or smart phone app. This option works well if you live in a rural area far from your closest bank branch or need to make a last minute deposit when the bank is about to close for the day. You should also look for details about making ATM deposits. Although financial institutions do not typically offer this option at all ATMs, even one deposit-capable ATM in your local area could prove useful during an emergency. You never know when you might need the flexibility, efficiency and convenience that comes with having access to at least one nearby deposit-capable ATM.
  • Online Banking Tools
    Our consumers reviews often also contain important information about online banking features. Always look for details about online account tools that help make financial transactions and banking interactions easier, such as a real-time balance review, 30-day transaction records, downloadable statements, personal and contact information change forms or editable fields and self-development tools that teach you how to handle money responsibly. Also, always make certain that any bank or credit union that you consider can provide you with a secure website that offers multi-tier password protection and encryption and automatic logout after so many minutes of inactivity.
  • Rapid Funds Availability
    The ease at which you can access and use your funds is another area you should consider as you read our consumer reviews. Always check out the amount of time it takes for funds to become available after an electronic transfer or face-to-face deposit. Some financial institutions allow immediate or same-day access to at least the first $100 of a check deposit. Also, you should look for online tools that help you find convenient ATM locations near your home and anywhere you travel. ATM fees and no surcharge ATMs are additional areas you should consider along with the maximum amount of money you can take out at the ATM using a debit card.
  • Debit Card Rewards
    Our reviews can help you find a checking account product that features a debit card option that gives you some sort of reward when you use the debit card in certain ways, such as cash back or redeemable points based on a percentage of the amount of money you spend or company perk discounts at businesses where you frequently shop. Many banks and credit unions even reward you if you primarily shop online, use your debit card number to set up automatic bill pay or perform offline and online credit-style or "signature-based" transactions.
  • Account Sign-Up Bonus
    Checking account sign-up incentives to attract new customers are fairly common. A financial institution might give a new customer an up front or instant benefit or delay the benefit until you fulfill some sort of requirement. With up front benefits, for example, you might receive an instant fee waiver or a branded product like a hat, tote or umbrella. If the institution offers you cash, you might need to make so many direct deposits and/or maintain a particular balance for so many days before you receive it. Although you can find checking account products that only offer a $10 sign-up bonus, plenty of banks and credit unions offer cash bonuses that range between $100 to $500 depending on the type of checking account and the balance. You can also find combination bonus programs where you receive one cash bonus for fulfilling requirements related to a new checking account and a separate similar or higher cash bonus if you also set up a savings account at the same time and then fulfill special requirements related to that account.
  • Money Security and Protection
    When you pick a checking account product, you should always pick one from a financial institution that offers bank failure deposit insurance and other security and protection options. Banks that have membership through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and credit unions that have membership through the National Credit Union Administration currently offer insurance coverage up to $250,000. The FDIC and NCUA memberships serve as consumer banking watchdogs, which means that you are guaranteed that the FDIC bank or NCUA credit union meets certain security and protection requirements. Many banks and credit unions also provide additional security features that can aid depositors over time, such as strange activity account monitoring, theft protection and legal representation for theft cases.
  • Customer Service Availability
    Whether you have had a good or bad past customer service experience, check for details related to customer service availability when reading our consumer reviews. An emergency can happen at any time during or after your financial institution's business hours. Always look for information about the available methods for customer service interactions and the hours of availability for each method. For example, if you prefer to handle almost all of your banking online, you might choose an institution that offers online live chat. If you travel a lot for business or personal reasons, you might prefer one that offers weekend phone customer support. In all of these cases, always look for detailed stories about how reviewers were treated by a specific institution's customer service representatives. Chat and weekend availability matters little if you have to deal with inexperienced or rude agents.

We also recommend that you always look for exceptions to the above. Plenty of banks and credit unions are willing to waive specific fees when you agree to make certain changes to your account like setting up automatic deposits and bill payments, turning off paper statements and using virtual wallet tools. A few institutions actually charge an extra fee for face-to-face transactions with tellers. When it comes to accessing your money, some companies allow you to keep two debit cards that have separate card numbers so that you can take out twice the normal maximum daily withdrawal amount at an ATM. For example, if you can only withdraw up to $400 with one card, you might be able to remove up to $800 between the two cards by taking out $400 per card. Sales representatives do not always mention these exceptions, but you can often find examples in our consumer reviews along with advice about how to renegotiate an existing or recent checking account contract to get more benefits. We highly recommend that you use these and other details as leverage when talking to sales reps.

Explore Our Consumer Reviews Today!

Why waste gas, money and time attempting to make payments in person at a business with cash or via an unreliable money transfer service when a checking account provides so many beneficial options?

If your primary concern is that you rarely write checks, keep in mind that checking accounts offer more than one type of payment solution including the ability to enjoy many of the extra benefits traditionally related to using credit cards, such as cashback rewards and signature-based transactions, even when you have bad credit. Although your checking account status does not usually improve your creditworthiness at the credit bureau level, a checking account in good standing can actually improve it at the local level by showing at least your bank or credit union and local businesses that you are capable of handling money in a responsible fashion.

As you can see, our website provides you with the valuable information that you need to make an informed decision about a financial institution and checking account product. All that you need to do now is explore and compare our reviews.