How do Banks and Credit Unions Differ?
At one time, credit unions specialized primarily in low-interest loans and savings accounts, but not other services. But most have increased their range of services offered, with many now offering checking accounts, credit cards, student loans and mortgages. Some people opt to maintain savings accounts with credit unions, since they tend to offer higher interest rates and a checking account with a traditional bank to ensure they have greater accessibility to ATMs and more. Deciding which type of institution will work best for you is a personal choice.
Opening the Right Checking Account For You
Once you've decided on a specific bank or credit union, you'll want to open a checking account. A good checking account is an essential tool for building solid personal finances. It makes managing your money easier and over time it will save you money.
Most banks and credit unions offer a variety of checking account options. Some are free and others carry a monthly fee. Often the free checking account requires that a minimum balance be maintained.
Pay particularly close attention to the additional fees that a bank may charge. The charges are generally small−from 10 cents to several dollars, but they add up. Here are some of the most common fees: