My wife and I were looking for some information recently to open a checking account for her. Although I am happy with the place I bank at, we wanted to see what other options we had to open an account for her. We were interested in looking for one that offered services like Debit Card rewards program & one that didn’t charge for using other bank’s ATM.
When I opened my current bank account, I just went to the bank websites which I knew were in my area and looked for some information about various accounts they offered. Sometimes they were easy to find and sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes I would call the local branch to get information on their offerings. I didn’t know that some banks had so many branches around town just because I hadn’t noticed them at all.
This time around in our search, we came across a pretty cool tool at Find Better Banks. You can get a nice comparison of banks around you and their various offerings by answering a few simple questions. Here are the steps you would go through to find information on potential banks you could go with:
Step 1: Location
You just give your street address and zip code and choose an optional distance you want to look up banks in.
Step 2: Features you want
Here you get to specify what kind of features are important for you and you have three options to choose from – Don’t care, Nice to have or Must Have. You can influence your results by choosing an appropriate answer for each feature. It also has helpful description if you aren’t sure of what something is.
- Interest on balances
- Overdraft protection
- Online Bill Pay Services
- 24-hour automated telephone banking
- Email alerts
- Mobile banking services
- Download activity to Quicken or MS Money
You could even choose to find discounts & freebies such as
- Unlimited check-writing
- Debit card reward program
- Non-bank ATM Fee Rebate
- Free additional linked deposit accounts
- Free or discounted check printing services
Step 3: Estimate your fees
Depending on your usage and teh type of account you have, you are probably incurring some kind of fees annually. This step helps estimate the fees you spend usually and compares it with the other offerings. Some of the things that influence the fees you pay are:
- If you direct deposit your paycheck
- Your lowest daily balance
- Number of times you use ATM in a month
- How often you find yourself using another bank’s ATM
- In a year, the number of times you overdraw
- If you want overdraft protection
Step 4: Compare Bank Features
Now you are taken to page that lists the banks that matches your selection criteria sorted by estimated annual fees. It also shows how closely every account matches your preferred features in percentage. It also shows how far the closest location is for you as well as shows the number of locations within 10 miles of your address.
If you’d like to see individual features and fees for the banks listed, there are a couple of tabs at the top of the table to easily switch views back and forth.
Step 5: Choose a Bank
On choosing a bank of your interest, you’ll see extensive details about taccount you are looking at and contact information. It even has a Google Maps link showing the closest location in a bank.
With this cool wizard, it was easy for us to see which account matched our needs the closest and made our decision-making in a usually painstaking process, a breeze.
With more banks being added every week to this tool so with time I see it as being an authoritative entity in this niche. This is a simple and effective tool that answers a most sought question by most consumers shopping for a bank account.
The interface is not your flashy web 2.0 kind of look and does not have a funky logo but it is designed to be easy to use and it does the job very well.
How would you go about hunting for a bank account usually?