Opening a bank account: 5 must ask questions

Here are some questions you should definitely ask when looking around for a bank to join. Your savings are important, so don’t let them get swallowed up in surprise fees!

Where’s the nearest branch?

It’s not something that everyone cares about – and there are certainly some great online-only bank accounts available. But if having branch access is important to you, then ask:

  • Does this bank have a branch that is conveniently close to where I live, work, or go to school/university?
  • Does it have enough opening hours that I could actually go to the bank and speak to a real person if I needed to?
  • Alternatively, do I need a branch, or am I happy to do everything online?

What will the bank fees be?

There are plenty of fee-free bank accounts out there – check out some of the options here – but sometimes, to get fee-free, conditions will apply. So some questions to ask are:

  • Do I have to keep a certain minimum amount in the account so I won’t be charged a monthly fee?
  • Is there a penalty fee if I don’t keep my money in the account for the whole month?
  • What ATMs can I use, free of charge?

Will I earn interest?

In our low interst rate environment, earning a return on your cash isn’t always a given. Similarly to avoiding bank fees, earning interst sometimes comes under the “conditions apply” rule. So when it comes to savings accounts, as how much interest you will really earn. You can compare savings account interest rates here.

Can I do my online banking on my mobile phone?

Gen-connected assume that everything can be done online, on mobile, all the time. So it can be a rude shock to find that some financial institutions are still in the stone (tablet) age.  Check that your financial institution of choice has the online functionality that you want.

Do I automatically get a debit card or ATM cash withdrawal card?

Generally the answer will be “yes” – but it’s worth asking what type of card you’ll receive.Also ask whether there are any fees for having or using the card? And, as already mentioned, are there fees for using the card at another provider’s ATM?

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