What Checking Account Features Do I Need?

Today's checking accounts have more features than ever before. There's a lot to consider when opening a new account.

A no-fee checking account is essential for some, and overdraft protection is a must-have for others. The best checking accounts should make it easy to access your money, be flexible in how you can spend it, and be NUCA or FDIC insured.

Here, we've done the research for you and listed the best features to look for when opening a new checking account.

 

Woman reviewing documents



ATM Network / Branch Presence

Having an ATM near work, home or where ever one travels is important for convenience. A bank’s branch presence and number of ATMs will vary. Check with the financial representative to learn of the exact number and coverage across the country.

Many credit unions are part of the Co-op Shared Branch network, which means you're welcome at over 5,000 shared credit unions throughout the country. You'll also have access to over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the United States. Locate a credit union near you and discover a spectrum of services.




No Fee Checking Account

No fee accounts offer convenience without cost. In many cases, a no-fee checking account has requirements. Some require members to set up direct deposits or maintain a balance to avoid fees. Visit your financial institution and find ways to save through a no-fee checking account.




Low Minimum Balance

Students, retirees, or someone whose income fluctuates may benefit by opening a low minimum balance account. This type of account can require as little as five dollars to keep open. If you fall below the minimum, you'll be charged a fee, and fees vary.

There are different low minimum balance accounts. Knowing the difference will help you avoid fees.

 




Interest Bearing Checking

Opening a high-interest checking account is a good idea if earning interest is essential. This checking account earns interest based on the average monthly balance. Since it makes interest, these accounts usually have large minimum balance requirements.

Important considerations:

  • Interest is subject to taxation.
  • Some high-interest accounts are available only online.
  • Potential fees include overdraft, monthly maintenance, and foreign-ATM fees.





Overdraft Protection

Overdraft fees can be expensive and drain your account quickly. Overdraft protection or bounce protection provides overdraft coverage for bills. If you don't have enough funds to cover an expense, overdraft protection can cover the amount. Your financial institution will charge a fee every time this feature is needed.




Direct Deposit

Direct deposits are funds deposited into your account electronically. Rather than using a paper check and depositing through a teller or ATM, funds are transferred through a system called ACH or Automatic Clearing House. Direct deposit offers members security and time-saving benefits, including:

Many employers can directly deposit an employees' percentage of their pay or a flat number into multiple accounts. For example, 50% can be deposited into a checking account and the remaining into a savings account.

To set up direct deposit, you'll need the following:

 




Online Banking

Online banking allows members to access their accounts through the internet. Members must create an account and profile, and all tasks are done through a laptop or desktop computer. Online banking differs from a mobile banking app, where all financial transactions are done through a smartphone. Online banking allows members to do various financial tasks and offers a great deal of convenience.

 




Free Checks

Personal check writing isn’t what it used to be. Members prefer the convenience and ease of using a debit card or app payment options such as Apple Pay or PayPal. However, many credit unions continue to offer free checks with accounts. Contact your local credit union to see if this feature is available.



With so many great features of checking accounts, it can be hard to choose. Think about what benefits and perks are important – and which aren’t. Credit unions are well known for their exceptional customer service.  A credit union representative can help you open the right account. Join one today, and you'll become part of a nationwide network. With access to thousands of ATMs and NCUA insured accounts, your money will be there when and where you need it.  

Find the right Credit Union for you

There are more than 5000 credit unions to choose from across the U.S.