Your First Relationship with a Financial Institution
A good working relationship
with a financial institution is part of a solid financial foundation.
Finding the right one to work with is important. There are probably dozens,
if not hundreds, of institutions that offer the products and services
you want and need located close by or with which you can create an electronic
Here are some things
to consider when choosing an institution:
- Location of branches
and ATMs - You want an institution that is relatively convenient. While
you may not visit the branch often, it is nice to know that you can
physically go and talk to someone if necessary. You also want to make
sure that there are ATMs conveniently located so you do not pay fees
for using ATMs of another institution. Many institutions are part of
networks that do not charge fees. Be sure to check this out.
- Fairly priced products
and services - Not all institutions are the same. Be sure to compare
the interest rates offered on different types of accounts. Be sure to
understand all the fees that may be imposed for low balances or excessive
- A pleasant way
of doing business - Your financial institution should be your partner
on the road to financial security. Find an institution that wants your
business. If you do not get a feeling of comfort when you walk into
a branch or talk to someone on the phone, find another institution.
Remember, you are the buyer and they are the seller of financial services.
When you walk into a branch, be prepared and know what you need. You should
also have the information that you will need - Social Security number,
identification and proof of residence. Once there, you will probably want
to talk with a personal banker instead of just going to a teller.
many types of accounts and other services, but when you are first starting
out, you probably only need a few of their services:
- Checking Account
- This will probably be the main account that you use for your finances.
Your paycheck will be deposited into it, you will use it to pay your
bills, and you will withdraw money from it with an ATM card. You
will probably have to choose from accounts that have different minimum
levels, different limits on the number of monthly transactions and different
interest rates. Choose one that will fit your needs and that has no
or very minimal fees. If you are not planning on leaving large balances
in the account, an account with no fees is probably better than one
that pays a slightly higher interest rate. Even an account that pays
no interest is better than one that has a $5 monthly fee. Be sure to
ask about all these features.
- Savings account
- Even if you do not anticipate having much to save, open a savings
account. It will pay more interest than your checking account and putting
even small amounts into it will help you accumulate funds for a special
- ATM Card - If you
are like most people, having an ATM card and access to convenient ATM
machines is essential. This will enable you to withdraw money when you
need it and avoid carrying larger amounts of cash when you do not need
it. Be sure your ATM card is linked to both your checking and savings
accounts. That way, you can transfer funds within the accounts.
- Direct Deposit
- Have your paycheck deposited electronically into your checking account.
This will save you time and will put your money to work faster. Your
institution will provide the information you need so you can provide
your employer with the information they need.
- Safe Deposit Box
- You may not need one, but if you have any valuables that you do not
want to store at home, a safe deposit box is nice to have. They are
usually inexpensive and you can access them at the branch when you need
These are the basic
services you should need. By having these services with one institution,
your financial life will be simpler. In addition, an existing relationship
with the institution may come in handy when you apply for an auto loan
or a mortgage.