A good working relationship with a financial institution is part of a solid financial foundation, so finding the right one is important.
There are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of nearby institutions that offer the products and services you need. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an institution:
- Locations and ATMs. You want an institution that is convenient. While you may not visit the financial center often, it is nice to know you can physically go and talk to someone if necessary. You also want to make sure the institution has conveniently located ATMs, ideally ones that don’t require you to pay fees.
- Fairly priced products and services. Not all institutions are the same. Compare the interest rates offered on different types of accounts, and research any fees that may be imposed for low balances or excessive transactions.
- A pleasant customer service experience. Your financial institution should be your partner on the road to financial security. Find an institution that wants your business and treats you like a partner. You should feel comfortable with the staff and their offerings. If not, keep looking.
Establishing the relationship
When you apply for an account online or walk into a branch for the first time, be prepared. Make sure you have access to important information such as your Social Security number, identification and proof of residence.
Institutions offer many types of accounts and other services, but when you are first starting out, these are the ones you are most likely to need:
- Checking account. This likely will be the main account you use for your finances. Your paycheck will be deposited into it, you’ll use it to pay your bills, and you’ll withdraw money from it with an ATM card. You will probably have to choose from accounts that have different minimum levels, different limits on the number of monthly transactions and different interest rates. Choose one that will fit your needs. If you are not planning on maintaining large balances, an account with no fees is probably better than one that pays a slightly higher interest rate.
- Savings account. Even if you do not anticipate having much to save, open a savings account. Saving even small amounts will help you accumulate funds for a special purchase or emergency fund.
- Direct deposit of payroll. Have your paycheck deposited electronically into your checking account. This will save you time and will put your money to work faster. Your institution will provide the information you need to give your employer. For clients who use direct deposit, Hancock Whitney offers Early Pay, which gives access to direct deposits up to two days before the scheduled payment date.
- Mobile and Online banking. Take advantage of the ease and convenience of mobile and online banking to manage your finances anytime, anywhere. Once you’ve opened your deposit accounts, ask your banker to make sure you’re enrolled in these services.
By having these basic banking services with one institution, your financial life will be simpler. In addition, having an established relationship with the institution may come in handy when you apply for an auto loan or a mortgage.