5 Things You Must Do Before Opening a New Bank Account

Having a checking or savings account is one of the foundations of greater financial independence, but you’d be surprised by how many mistakes it’s easy to make when it comes to choosing and opening an account.

Here's our five-step guide to savvy account shopping and opening.

1) Verify FDIC Coverage

Again, this is something you’d be surprised to find a lot of folks just don’t do. Look into the bank or credit union you’re considering and make sure there aren’t any red flags that come up. A good place to start is simply confirming FDIC protection — look for the “FDIC” signage, which means the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures customers deposits to at least $250,000.

2) Evaluate Interest Rates

Make sure you compare interest rates on different accounts offered by different banks. This will also help you make the right decision when it comes to the type of account and the bank or credit union you’ll choose.

3) Consider Your Lifestyle

How Much Do You Travel?

We’d be crazy to say that convenience shouldn’t play a role in helping you pick the right bank — it’s definitely something worth your time to think about. For example, if you travel a lot for work or recreation, a larger bank with more branches may make more sense for you. If you don’t envision a lot of instances where you’d need to regularly access a physical bank branch away from home, a smaller community bank, like Dime Bank, or a credit union could be a great choice, since they generally come with higher interest rates on accounts and lower rates on loans and lines of credit.

Are You On the Go Regularly?

Similarly, staying on top of your finances when there’s rarely a dull moment can be a challenge. The right mobile app can make that process significantly more convenient, so check with potential banks about their app offerings and the details.

Family Life

Do you have kids? Do you plan to? Many banks offer starter accounts or joint accounts to help younger generations get started managing their money. If that’s something you see in your future, ask about those sorts of plans and how the bank provides for parents to be involved with early bankers.

What about retirement? Does the bank you’re looking into have enough retirement planning resources and accounts? It’s never a bad idea to think ahead and look at your options for IRAs, and even higher-yield savings accounts like Money Market Accounts, to help you jumpstart your savings.

4) Decide How Much Money You’ll Keep (On Average), and in What Accounts

When considering your accounts, especially if you’re thinking about those higher-yield investment options, it’s important to have a good idea of how much money you’ll be able to keep in that account. This will help you determine what accounts are a better fit for you and your financial situation.

For example, if you have a nest egg, even a small one, you’ll often be able to earn a higher interest rate on an account that you can commit to keeping a certain amount of money in, so it makes sense to investigate your account and interest-rate options at various banks.

5) Read Carefully

In the same way, make sure you ask about — and read — any and all fine print that comes with the accounts you're looking at.

  • What happens if you bounce a check?
  • What kinds of fees are associated with each account?
  • What are the ATM fees? Are there additional out-of-network ATM fees?
  • Debit card fees or restrictions?
  • Cost of checks?
  • Direct deposit?
  • What's the process if your bank cards are lost or stolen?
  • Is online banking provided? Online bill pay? And are there any service fees associated with using them?

At Dime, we’re always here to help you navigate the ins and outs of our different checking and savings accounts, to figure out which one may make the most sense for your situation. Contact us today at 800-321-DIME, or visit your local branch for more details.