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Your bank account: 10 questions to ask

What looks on paper like a no-fee or low cost account may not actually be the one that's best suited to your needs. Here are 10 questions to ask to help figure out if your acocunt is right for you.

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ATMs allow you to withdraw money from your checking account without visiting a bank branch. But some withdrawals could cost you. Many banks charge you to use machines operated by other banks or third parties, and those fees can add up quickly. If a bank has a large network of ATMs, you have better access to no-fee withdrawals. Plus, some banks reimburse you for ATM fees.

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Withdrawing more than your account contains is called an overdraft. Unless you have opted in to a banks overdraft service, your transaction will typically be declined. Overdraft service generally allows your transaction to go through, but you will be charged a fee. You can also enroll in optional overdraft protection, which allows you to cover an overdraft with money from another account, such as your savings or a credit card. Keep in mind that this protection can result in a fee, and if you pay for the overdraft via a credit card, it may also be subject to interest.

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Some banks charge monthly fees to maintain your account. In many cases, though, they waive those fees based on certain conditions, such as regular paycheck direct deposits.

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Some banks require you to pay a fee if you do not maintain a minimum or average balance in your account, though those fees also may be waived based on certain conditions.

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Unless you do not mind doing all your banking online or over the phone, you might want to consider an institution with a branch close to your work or home. It may be worth spending some time on the banks website to figure out what transactions will require you to visit a branch.

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You may be able to check balances, transfer money, receive statements and pay bills online. If you do not have easy access to a branch, online banking can be very valuable.

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Some banks have mobile apps for convenient banking on the go. For example, you may be able to deposit checks by taking pictures of them with your phone. You may want to consult reviews of your banks app to see what specific services are offered since it can vary.

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Many banks do not charge you to pay bills directly from your checking account. If you are transferring money to another person, banks generally will not charge you if that person also has an account with the bank. However, if you are transferring or wiring money outside the bank, you may be charged a fee.

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At many banks your first book of checks is free, but you will likely pay for additional ones. Some banks also charge you to replace lost or stolen debit cards. Whats more, some banks limit the number of checks you can write from your account each month, and charge a fee if you exceed that number.

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Generally, if checking accounts pay interest, the rate is very low. High-yield checking accounts offer higher interest, but typically require higher balances. Savings accounts offer higher rates, but because the accounts are intended for saving, they are subject to different rules. Federal regulations, which apply to all banks, limit the number of withdrawals you can make from savings accounts each month, and some banks may charge for frequent savings withdrawals. If you make certain types of withdrawals more than six times a month (including ATM withdrawals), your account could be automatically converted to checking. It is a good idea to check your banks deposit agreement and any disclosures to see what applies; you can do this while you are looking at what interest rate the account may pay.

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The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its partners assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one's reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment management.

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