You need to have a bank account for managing your money: such as paying your bills, saving money for future purchases, or applying for a loan. The internet provides a great opportunity to manage all your needs through online banking, and you hardly would need to write any checks, but you may still need them, so look for these banks that offer free checking no minimum balance (even if $1 left that would be okay), no monthly charges, and free checks. Some of the banks offer you free checking if you sign for a direct deposit your paycheck will be automatically deposited to your account on certain dates instead of given it or mailed it to you.
What you need to bring with you
To open an account you will need your Social Security Number and your Identification Card with your picture and current address. You will also need to fill out an application, and bring some money for the initial deposit (the minimum required by the bank).
What you need to know
You can open a checking account for your daily needs and writing checks, and saving account to save money for future needs and receive an interest (certain percentage of the total you have on an account). If you have more money to save, look for the CD (certificate of deposit) account. That type of account gives you higher interest rate in return than a saving account, but your money will be locked for a certain period of time (from 1 month to few years) and you would need to pay a penalty if you needed the money sooner. You can check the rates of such accounts on http://www.bankrate.com/. The bank will give you an account number (or two if you open a saving account as well), a checkbook to write checks and record transactions what comes to (deposit) and goes from (withdrawal) your account. The bank will also give you an ATM card to deposit or withdraw money from an ATM machine or for purchasing goods and paying by debit card instead of cash. Be aware that you may need to pay fees for using ATM machines other than your bank's. Also, remember to say credit when making purchases using your debit card. Although the money will be immediately deducted from your account, the store will not charge you small fees for using a debit card.
When choosing a bank, consider the following:
- FDIC-insured: your money is insured up to $100,000 if the bank goes out of business.
- Bank location: choose the one that is close to your home or work so it will be convenient for you to make deposits/withdrawals or use an ATM.
- ATM access: how many ATMs the bank has to avoid paying a fee by using other banks ATMs
- Online banking.
- 24-hour customer service by phone.
If you have both checking and saving account sign for an overdraft protection. Such protection will help you to avoid penalties associated with spending more (writing a check, using a debit card, withdrawal money from ATM) than you have on your checking account. For example, you have $20 left, and then write a check for $21. Since you're short $1 your check will be bounced not paid, and you'll be paying fine for writing it. If you have an overdraft protection though, $1 will be automatically taken from your saving account, and you won't need to pay fine. Make sure you write every transaction in the checkbook that bank will give you along with the checks. That will help you to always know your balance how much money is left.