The state of Massachusetts is home to Dunkin Donuts®, Fenway Park ®, more than one hundred colleges and universities — and now me!
On my extended list of things to do prior to moving was to choose a new bank. To start I developed a list of features that were important for my next bank to have.
- Access to branches and ATMs in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and greater New England.
- Free Online Services like Internet Banker and Bill Pay
- No minimum balance and no fees tied to the account
- Use of direct deposit and a check card
With this list in mind, I set off to search the websites of a few banks I had in mind based off of personal recommendations. Surprised to see that free checking wasn’t as readily available as the last time I opened an account, I utilized findabetterbank.com and bankrate.com to aid my search. Both sites allowed me to select features of an account and made recommendations from there. These results took my attention to two local Boston-area banks that still offered free checking, but a limited branch and ATM network. No deal.
At this point, I was starting to wonder if an internet bank was the way to go. Most online banks offer no fees and access at any ATM free of charge. I was almost sold, but then realized the fine print stated all transactions were subject to a two-business-day hold. Hmmm, I’m not completely comfortable with the idea of my transactions not posting right away. Moving on…
In the end, I chose a larger regional bank that had offices in Pennsylvania the entire way up to Maine. And tons of ATMs in Boston. My account is fee free as long as I can complete five debit card transactions a month, which I feel I can. Services and features important to me were available and each time I complete several different types of transactions I can earn cash back.
For anyone looking to switch banks I’d recommend prioritizing features that are important to you, seeking a personal recommendation, using a search engine to maybe bring to light some banks you weren’t aware of, and in the end go with what is easiest for you.
As I prepared to head off to Boston for grad school, I found a new appreciation for what I’ve learned about banking. Financial literacy is no joke and is even more important in times of economic uncertainty. Walking into a situation like opening a checking account or taking out a mortgage with some confidence that you’ll be able to understand the process and make the best choice is the first step for anyone to be successful with their finances. That’s why this blog and initiatives like Teach Children to Save have been some of my favorite projects to work on. Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy the posts written by my fellow bloggers. – Katelyn, who promises not to become a Sox fan.