Banner Image


Consider your needs and your habits when choosing which financial institution is best for you. Below are some points to consider:

  • Is the bank insured?

  • Does it charge monthly fees?

  • Am I required to maintain a minimum balance to avoid monthly fees?

  • Is there a fee for using an out-of-network ATM?

  • Will I be charged a fee for using my debit card or paying my bills online?

  • Are the locations and times convenient for me?

  • Do I need a mobile banking application?

  • Do I want to earn bonus rewards with my checking account?

You can and should open both checking and savings accounts. Never use your checking account as a savings account because the money is too easily accessible, making it hard to save. Plus most savings accounts will accrue interest on the money you place in the account. 

Types of Accounts

Checking Accounts

How you live your life will affect your choice of checking accounts. For example, many checking accounts carry a monthly fee that may be waived if you maintain a minimum balance each month. If you know that you generally carry a low monthly balance or dip close to zero in your account, you should choose an account with no monthly fees and maybe one that carries a low overdraft fee. By utilizing direct deposit, you may be able to avoid monthly fees. If you frequently use an ATM machine, you should look for a bank that has a large surcharge-free network of ATMs to avoid charges with each withdrawal.

Here are some tips for optimizing your checking account usage:

1. Use a debit card. Using your debit card gives you access to your checking account conveniently and securely without having to carry a lot of cash or checks.

2. Link your checking and savings accounts. This is a great way to build your savings. Linking the two accounts gives you access to extra cash and makes it easier to ransfer money between accounts.

3. Manage your overdraft fees. Overdraft fees are incurred when you spend more money than you have in your account.  To avoid these fees, keep a close watch on your account balance and what you are spending.

4. Use online and mobile banking to track your spending. Online banking is a useful way to keep track of your account balance. Online banking enables you to pay bills electronically, saving you paper and stamps.

5. Utilize automatic payments. Setting up your bill payments for automatic pay when bills are recurring is a helpful way to ensure that bills are paid on time and without hassles.  It also ensures that bills are paid if you are out of town when a bill is due.

6. Protect yourself.  Many banks offer security features to protect your identity and account if your debit card is lost or stolen.  They have features that monitor for unusual activity and protect against liability when a card is reported stolen within a specified period of time.

7. Set up direct deposit. One of the easiest ways to get the most out of your checking account is to set up direct deposit for your paycheck.   Using direct deposit is a safe and secure way to deposit your money into your account.


Savings Accounts

Even if you have a checking account, you need a savings account. Savings accounts provide interest, security, and low fees; plus, they are the cornerstone for your financial plan.

Below are some of the benefits to having a savings account:

1. This money is set aside but available if you really need it. If you have your extra money in a savings account, it is not available to spend on non-essentials. However, it is still easily accessible for an emergency.

2. You accrue interest on the money. The money you put in a savings account keeps growing when interest is paid to your account. That makes saving a smart choice for short-term goals like a vacation, a computer, or an emergency.

3. Your money is secure. Money placed in a savings account is secure because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guarantees deposits up to $250,000. You should compare savings account features before settling on a specific savings account.

4. It is a first step to long-term goals. A savings account is a great place to put your money until you have enough saved to move to a longer-term deposit or investment account. 

Cards and Fees

Debit Cards

Debit cards draw funds directly from your bank account. Debit cards can either require you to use a PIN or a signature. Using your debit card usually involves no fees, unless you overspend what is in your account or use an ATM outside of your network. Then you may have fees.

The Electronic Funds Transfer Act gives you protection against theft or loss of a debit card, but you must report the theft or loss of your card within 48 hours of discovery. If you do so, your liability for charges to that card after the theft or loss is only $50. If you don’t report the theft or loss within 48 hours, your liability for charges rises to $500. If you wait 60 days or more, or you fail to report the loss or theft of your debit card, there is no limit on your liability for charges.

One important thing to remember with your debit card is that it is tied to your checking account which holds money you are planning to use. When making purchases, guard your PIN number. With access to your PIN and your debit card, anyone can make unauthorized purchases.

Credit Cards

Credit cards allow you to borrow money from the card issuer up to a certain limit in order to purchase items or withdraw cash.

Credit cards come in four varieties and generally work with your signature:

1. Standard card which simply extends a line of credit to its users;

2. Rewards card which offers cash back, travel points, or other benefits;

3. Secured credit card which requires an initial cash deposit that is held by the issuer as collateral; and

4. Charge cards which have no present spending limit but often do not allow unpaid balances to carry over from month to month.

Smart consumers pay their credit cards in full on time every month or make more than the minimum payment by the due date every month. This practice keeps your credit in good standing. You should have one credit card in your name because some companies, like rental car agencies and hotels, will not accept debit card transactions to reserve a car or rent a hotel room.

Using a credit card wisely can positively impact your credit score. If you pay your credit card bill timely, you will increase your FICO score (Fair, Isaac and Company) and enhance your chances of obtaining more credit or a lower interest rate. Credit cards generally charge annual fees, over-limit fees, and late payment fees, in addition to monthly interest charges.

Credit cards offer security in case a card is lost or stolen. If your credit card is lost or stolen, and you report that theft or loss in a timely manner to the credit card company, your maximum liability for purchases made after the disappearance is $50.

Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act, you can dispute unauthorized purchases or purchases of goods that were damaged or lost during shipping. You are not assessed the fraudulent charges made in your name. Even though some debit-card providers offer zero-liability protection, the law is much more forgiving for credit card holders.


Whether you believe that a debit card or a credit card is the best way for you to pay for a purchase, usually there are fees associated with either one. One fee is the interchange fee.  This is not a fee that you as a consumer pay. It is a fee that banks pay for processing and accepting credit transactions from another bank. The average interchange fee in the United States is approximately 2% of the value of the transaction. When you make a purchase at a retailer, if you use your debit card and punch in a PIN number, it is an online transaction, and it is processed electronically. The retailer pays a smaller fee if you use your PIN number and the bank pays more. If you use your debit card like a credit card and sign a receipt for your purchase, the retailer pays more of the interchange fee because it is an offline transaction.

Other fees associated with using your debit card are potential ATM fees for using an out-of-network ATM machine to get money. These fees may be a flat amount or a percentage of the cash you withdraw. Also, if you have overdraft protection with your bank, and you spend more than you have in your account, you will incur overdraft charges on your account. These overdraft fees can be very expensive.

Credit cards also have fees. If you fail to make your payment on time, the credit card company will charge you a late fee. This late fee could be as much as $35.00. The credit card company may also raise your interest rate if you are late making your payment. While this is not a fee, it will greatly affect your bottom line when making purchases.

Credit card companies can charge you a fee if you exceed your credit limit if you have opted-in to allow them to do so. That fee will be added each month you exceed your credit limit. Finally, many credit card companies that offer low-interest credit cards charge a yearly fee for the privilege of owning and using the card.

Banking accounts, both checking and savings, can carry fees. Some banks charge monthly maintenance fees to keep your accounts open and to perform transactions. Sometimes these fees are waived. You should check with your bank to see what, if any, fees they can waive, and what the circumstances are that would allow for waiving those fees.

Finally, you should be aware of overdraft fees. If you make a transaction that exceeds the amount of money you have in your checking or savings account, you may be charged an overdraft fee. If you do not have overdraft protection, your bank will simply not allow the transaction, but it will charge you for having insufficient funds.