It can be confusing to know where to bank and how to get the most for your money when there’s so many options to choose from.
If you continue reading below, we’ve listed the main types of banking institution and the strengths of each type, so you can choose the best bank accounts for your specific needs.
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Commercial banks typically offer a wider range for products like checking and savings accounts, CDs and mortgages. Commercial banks can vary widely in their fee structures and the interest paid.
Most of the major regional and national banks that have physical locations can’t beat the interest and low fees of online only banks, but often offer more convenience in the form of many physical branches and branded ATMs.
Online banking is a relatively new phenomenon. They fall under the category of commercial banks, but don’t have any physical locations. People view online banking as the best bank accounts because they typically provide dramatically higher interest rates on savings, checking accounts, money markets, and CDs.
It’s important to know that most online banks have limited amount of services – they don’t offer loans or mortgages – and they don’t have physical locations so you have to handle your money digitally and through ATMs.
Community banks are usually centered more locally in the communities they serve, however, they also operate under commercial banks. They are competitive with national brick and mortar banks for interest rates and fees but are not as competitive as online-only banks.
Community banks are the best bank accounts for people who want to support their local community and want banking staff that takes the time to get to know them. They don’t have extensive ATM networks as national banks or online-only banks have.
Thrifts are the best bank accounts for people who want a local experience and don’t need a wide array of banking services. It typically focuses mainly on home mortgages and savings accounts although they are not limited to these.
Thrifts are less common than other kinds of banking institutions: savings and loan associations, savings banks, and mutual savings banks all fall under the category of thrifts.
Savings and Loans
If the idea of banking with your neighbors in a community of people you trust then savings and loans may have the best bank accounts for you. Savings and loans are very similar to commercial banking in the services they provide.
Savings and loans are locally owned and operated and most of the time they have a strong emphasis on home mortgages and offer a personalized touch.
Credit Unions offer the same services as commercial banks do, but they are non-profit and set up as cooperative among members, meaning they often have lower fees and better interest rates than large commercial banks.
Credit Unions are good choices if you don’t need national bank network and you are looking for a higher than average interest rates and lower than average fees. To join a credit union, you have to be a member of a specific organization, like the military or live within certain geographic boundaries.
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Finding the best bank account for you depends on what you are looking for in a banking institution. If you want a personal touch then credit unions, savings and loans, thrifts and community banks are good choices.
If you’re looking for convenience then large national commercial banks may serve your needs better. And if you looking for the best interest rates then online banking if the way for you.
For a variety of options, see our list of the Best Bank Promotions & the Best Bank Rates! While you’re here on HMB, check out more ways to Save Money!
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