Taking good care of your cash is essential to reaching top WalletFitness®. But with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates from historical lows and the stock market regularly flirting with record highs, it’s fair to wonder where to put your money.
To help answer that question, WalletHub analyzed the rates, fees and features associated with more than 2,250 deposit accounts. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs from banks and credit unions across the country. You can check out our findings below.
Checking accounts charge up to 50 different fees. And they aren’t always disclosed that clearly. As a result, the cost of everyday checking can vary by hundreds of dollars per year depending on the account you choose and how you use it.
To help consumers make money-saving decisions, WalletHub compared the cost of each checking account offered by 35 of the largest banks and credit unions. We did so using five consumer profiles designed to represent a wide range of banking styles. Below, you can find a breakdown of each profile’s characteristics as well as the best checking accounts for each group.
Checking accounts are a staple of personal finance. More than 100 million are in use today, according to the FDIC. And their popularity is no surprise given their versatility. Checking accounts let you make everyday purchases, directly deposit paychecks, withdraw cash as needed and pay bills online – all in one.
But some checking accounts are more straightforward than others, especially in terms of fees. In fact, disclosure practices resemble the Wild West. And that helps the country’s biggest banks rake in billions of dollars in checking account fees each year.
Online statements provide both convenience and security. They’re available sooner than paper statements, they can be accessed anywhere there’s an Internet location, and they simplify long-term record keeping. Plus, online statements help the environment.
Consumers are thus proving to be increasingly receptive to online statements, especially as mobile banking functionality continues to improve. Nearly 29% of banking customers had opted-in for online statements as of 2013, according to DigitalMailer research, which represents an 11% increase from the year before.
With that being said, the primary goal of this report was to determine the online record-keeping policies of the nation’s largest banks and credit unions – including the length of time records are available for immediate download, what types of historical records are maintained, and the cost associated with accessing them.
It’s no secret the nature of personal finance has shifted considerably in recent years. Technology has closed the door on the era of neighborhood banking, bringing consumers simultaneously closer to and farther away from their financial institutions of choice. Widespread economic woes have unearthed a number of unsavory practices and institutional failures, while also saddling us with an uphill financial battle. Even the new regulations designed to cure the ills of years past have taken some getting used to.
Most people expect small community banks to operate a bit differently than big national banks. There’s certainly rhyme to that reason, but we also tend to assume those mega-banks offer standardized national rates, regardless of where their customers happen to live. That part, interestingly enough, isn't quite true.
WalletHub analyzed savings accounts from the 10 largest U.S. banks in order to determine which institutions price their products geographically as well as how local competition among national banks impacts consumer rates. We found that 3 out of 10 banks offer different rates to consumers based on where they live, whether through disproportionately priced promotions or standard operating procedure. Perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that interest rates vary by as much as 550% from city to city depending on whichever 2-4 major banks happen to have a significant presence in given area.
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