By Christopher Schonberger
Being suspicious of “banking” is a time-honored tradition that dates back to the days of ancient Greece, when gold was horded in temples by lecherous, inbred priests (at least according to the movie 300). Sometime later, Adam Smith used his “invisible hand” to invent capitalism
, or, as it’s now known, “eBay,” and banks resembling the ones we know today were born.
Things are pretty well regulated these days, but it is still good to bring a healthy amount of wariness to the process of choosing the right bank. Bear in mind that banks make up to 40% of their revenue from the fees they charge on consumer accounts. Like going to the movies, the “feature presentation” (i.e., an account) lures us in and then they turn the screws with overpriced concessions like Swedish Fish and Milk Duds (the banking equivalent of extraneous charges for things we only sort of want).
Getting kicked off the rents’ account sucks, as does cutting ties with the “Bank of West Hicksville” that gave out free Nalgenes during freshman-year orientation. But it’s time to move on. Like many things that are boring in life, choosing a personal banks seems like an arduous task, but a little research and effort can lead to a lot of saved time and money down the line.
Pick an Account, Any Account
Bank accounts are a dime a dozen, and when it comes to basic options most of the major players offer pretty similar terms. Still, you should familiarize yourself with the popular types of accounts before proceeding. It’s worth pointing out that the ability to write checks becomes a lot more important in post-college life when you’re paying rent and other bills, so make sure you will not have to pay extra fees to write the number of checks you need each month.
Basic Checking Account
Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW) Checking