11 Steps to Understanding Your Banking Options Even people living in small towns throughout the country do not have to settle on a bank. There are many options available to you out there. However, you have to select the one that's right for you. For that, you may need some guiding tips. Understanding that you have multiple options available puts the ball in your court. You don't always have to go with a physical location. You can choose an online bank. You don't always have to settle for a no-interest checking account. Find out about your options before choosing any particular bank. This is something everyone needs to do. Big banks have their benefits, with rewards offered, ATM cards, instant deposits, and other features, but credit unions also have many benefits, including a reputable track record, higher interest savings accounts, and they offer a more personable experience. The choice is yours. Mentioned already when discussing your options, an online bank is something to consider. You can get the best of both worlds here in terms of quick banking and ready access to your cash, as well as a reputable institution wherein you know your money will be safe. This is very, very important. You might not realize it, but if a bank goes under with your money in there, you might not get it back. Your money may be lost forever. You should be looking for a bank where your money is insured, so if anything ever happens, your funds will always be there. Checking fees, ATM fees, check-bouncing fees, minimum deposit fees, etc -- there are a lot of different fees you'll have to deal with when banking, and it helps if you know about them all beforehand. The internet is a great place to check with real-life users to see how they really feel about the banks they've chosen. However, just be sure that you're actually finding real users and aren't simply clicking on advertising fluff that the bank paid for. Check out blogs and message boards. Whether or not you can save more on bundling items has to do with the bank you choose. This is yet something else you should be looking into when you're comparing banks. Bank X might offer a better rate for a bundle, whereas bank Y might not even allow you to bundle at all. Some ATMs are certainly bank-specific. If you have a debit card from a credit union, for example, it might not work in all ATM machines. It's the equivalent of having a Walmart card and attempting to charge something on it at a restaurant. Make sure you find out which machines you can use. If you're not fully privy to the different rules and regulations your bank has, you could end up having to pay a hefty fine or you may even have your account frozen. Be sure to always read the fine print. Once you've selected a bank to go with, you should always start small when opening your account. Don't throw every bit of your money in there at once. Start out small and see if the bank holds up its end of the bargain in terms of functionality and fees. Any bank worth its salt will have a thorough FAQ section via its website and also a very polite and helpful support staff. If you need to search further for detailed information, contacting a bank's support staff should be an easy process. Choosing a bank carefully is something you owe to yourself if you want your money to stay safe. By following the tips in the article above, you should be able to find a great bank that offers fair rates and a lot of security.