How should I "shop around" for an account? - Michael Smeriglio

How should I “shop around” for an account?

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There are several account features that you should investigate at various banks.

Interest Rates

Find out what the interest rate is and whether the bank can change it after the account has been established.

Also, find out if the bank pays different interest rates based on how much you have in the account, and if so, how it is calculated.

Ask when the interest starts being compounded (when they pay you interest based on your principal plus your earned interest).

Ask what the annual percentage yield is. This is a rate that will tell you how much interest you will earn on a deposit.

Ask the minimum balance required before you start earning interest.

Ask if you start earning interest when you deposit a check, or when the check is actually credited to the institution.


Ask if you will pay a flat per-month fee.

Find out if there is a penalty fee for dropping below a minimum balance.

Ask if there is a charge for each deposit or withdrawal and how much.

Inquire about ATM fees: making deposits, withdrawals, and how these fees vary if you use an ATM owned by the bank.

See if there is a charge for bill payment by phone or online.
Additional questions:

Will I be charged per check I write?

Will my fees be reduced if I have multiple accounts with the bank?

Will fees be waived if I use direct deposit?

Is there a fee for canceling a check?

Is there a fee per balance inquiry?

Will there be a fee if I close my account soon after it is opened?

Am I charged a fee if I write a check that bounces?


Find out if there is a limit to the dollar amount of withdrawals or frequency of withdrawals.

If you close the account before your interest is credited, ask if you will still receive that interest.

Find out how long it takes a check to clear, and how long you must wait to withdraw funds you have credited to your account.


Establish the term of your account.

See if the account will roll over automatically, and see if there is a grace period in which you can withdraw your funds after your term comes to maturity.


Mike Smeriglio III is a financial specialist. A licensed CPA since 1985, Mike has been providing tax preparation services to individuals and businesses for more than 30 years through his firm located in Greenwich, CT.