What Should I Be Looking For When Banking?

November 23, 2023
Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels

If you’re trying to compare bank accounts in Canada, you’ve likely noticed many options out there. Beyond looking at savings and chequing accounts, there are variations within each of those types of bank accounts. Making it more complicated, every bank has its own options for you to choose from.

Here are some things to consider when deciding which bank or bank account works best for you.

What’s most important to you?

When you compare bank accounts, you need to know what’s important to you and what will help you the most financially. For example, if you’re trying to save money or find that your money is already stretched thin, you’ll want to compare bank accounts in Canada based on the fees they charge or the services that they offer.

If money is less of an issue, you might be more concerned about customer service or ease of access. If it’s important for you to have a branch that’s easily accessible, then you probably don’t want an online bank. You’ll have to choose from the banks that have a branch in your city or region.

If saving money is most important to you, consider the following

1. What fees will you pay?

It’s important to know what fees you’ll pay when banking. You could pay monthly fees, transaction fees, NSF fees, fees for using bank machines outside your network, and fees for paper statements. Those charges all add up. Find a bank that charges the lowest fees possible while still providing you with the services you need most.

2. What interest rate can you get?

If you’re looking to open a savings account, you’ll want an account that gives you the highest interest rate possible. Just be careful to read the fine print. Some accounts offer the highest interest rates only if you keep at least a minimum balance in your account. If you don’t make that minimum, you won’t get the highest interest rate–sometimes, you won’t get any interest at all.

If customer service is important to you, consider the following

1. What is their customer service track record?

Ask your friends and family members which banks they like working with. Do they recommend a specific branch or person they deal with? Why do they like that bank? Are there comments online? Look at how the bank has handled complaints and whether they have a solid process for addressing concerns.

2. How did they treat you?

If you already have an account at one bank, opening all new accounts at the same place is tempting. But the more accounts you have in one place, the more complicated it is to move. Before you automatically open more accounts, ask how they’ve treated you in the past. Has their service been exceptional, or have you felt like just a number to them? Did they answer your questions thoroughly, or did you always feel like you needed more information?

Find a bank that takes a genuine interest in you and seems concerned with helping you.

3. Is their online banking system easy to use?

Whether or not you love online banking, more and more organizations are moving to online banking, so chances are good you’ll need a bank account that can meet your online banking needs. Does your bank allow online bill payments? Can you send an Interac e-Transfer? Can you quickly and securely access your account balances? How simple is it to move money into and out of an account online? These are all important questions to ask yourself when you’re looking at bank accounts and their online banking system.

4. Do they have physical locations?

If you like going into physical locations and speaking with tellers face-to-face, you’ll want to sign up with a bank with physical locations. An online-only bank probably won’t work for you.

When comparing bank accounts in Canada, ensure you understand the terms and conditions. Read them over and be sure to ask about any fees that don’t make sense to you. Find out if there are ways to get around paying additional fees, such as maintaining a minimum balance or bundling your products.

Go with the bank or the account that has the benefits that are most relevant to you.

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