Whether you’re about to open your first bank account, are consolidating your funds with a joint account or are looking to move banks, there are a number of important questions you should be asking before you commit to an account.
What are the interest rates?
The interest rate will vary from bank to bank, but for the vast majority of traditional ‘brick and mortar’ banks and you’re looking to open a simple savings account, the interest rate is bound to be low. Indeed, it could be as low as 0.1%. If you’re looking to gain a little more interest, look towards the more modern, online banks as they can afford to offer better rates of interest given their lower overheads.
What are the fees?
Many accounts (even basic bank accounts) might include a minimum balance that you must meet, otherwise, you’ll incur a fee. Or they will state a certain amount that must be paid into the account on a monthly basis. Make a note of what the minimum balance is and how significant the fee is if you ever fall below that amount. Also, there might be a monthly fee to keep the account open, particularly if you’re looking at more fully-featured accounts. Other fees associated with bank accounts are transfer fees (from your old account to your new one) and overdraft fees, which will be incurred if you spend more than is in your account. Make sure you are aware of all of these fees before making your decision.
Do they have an app?
It might sound like a relatively minor thing to consider, but in this day and age, chances are you’ll be doing the vast majority of your banking via your smartphone. Before deciding on a bank, make sure they have a banking app with a decent user interface and extensive features. If you plan to be doing a lot of transactions, it’s imperative that you choose a bank with a decent app.
What are the reviews like?
This involves everything from customer service to third-party reviews. Check the reviews on sites that are not directly involved with the bank and check whether or not you can speak to an actual human being in the case of customer service. You’d be shocked how many banks have migrated to fully AI solutions. You might also be interested in the societal impact of the bank. If the moral value of the bank is important to you, there is plenty of information available online.
How many transactions does your bank allow per month? Is there a fee if you go over that number? Can you set up an online-only savings account? Is there the potential for setting up additional savings accounts and ISAs online? These are just a few of the additional questions you might want to ask.