How to choose a bank
Choosing a bank is not a decision to make on a whim. You need to find one that works with your lifestyle and that offers services you need as well as competitive rates. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when shopping for a bank.
Choosing who to bank with is a big decision. You're trusting the establishment with your cash, and you'll have to interact with it on a regular basis, so it's worth spending some time making sure you select the right one. Below are some key factors to consider that will help ensure you choose the right bank for you.
Make a list of your needs
Jot down exactly what you need from your bank. Is it just a chequing or a savings account, or do you want RRSPs too? Or perhaps a line of credit, a mortgage or something else? Consider whether you want to have all these products from one bank or if it makes better sense to have them at a few different financial institutions.
Don't be swayed by gifts and bonuses offered for opening a new account
Even though that small cash bonus or iTouch gift for opening an account may be mighty tempting, remember that these small gifts aren't worth it in the long run, as their actual value is minute. Instead, base your decision on the other factors outlined here.
Consider basic factors that will affect your interaction with the bank
Regardless of which bank you choose, one of its branches will be considered your branch. Does the bank have a branch conveniently located near you? What are its hours? Even though we use ATMs and online banking most of the time, sometimes branch visits are a must, so you'll want the bank to be open at times that work for you. Consider popping into the bank branches you are considering to see how busy they are on a typical day and how quickly you can get to speak to someone. What's the bank's website like? Does it offer an app for your mobile phone? Check for how many ATMs and other branches it has around the city.
Check fees and interest rates
Check out the different plans the bank offers and how the rates compare from plan to plan and from bank to bank. What's the charge if you use another bank's ATM? If you go into overdraft, what's the fee? What are the bank's interest rates for loans, and what are its rates for interest accrued in a savings account? Having this sort of information is essential when deciding which bank to trust your money with.