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Questions to Ask About a Checking Account

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1. What are the fees? The Truth in Savings Act requires institutions to disclose fees before you open a deposit account. If there is a monthly fee, ask about ways to reduce or eliminate it.

2. Is there a minimum balance requirement? What is the penalty for going below the minimum? You may be able to meet the requirement or reduce the penalty if you have other accounts at the same bank or if you use direct deposit.

3. Will the account earn interest? If so, how much and what factors can raise or reduce the interest rate? Some checking accounts pay interest, others don't.

4. If I overdraw my account, what are my options for avoiding fees for insufficient funds? Example: Banks offer overdraft lines of credit, which work like a loan. Keep in mind that these programs typically come with their own costs.

5. Will the bank and the account be convenient for me? If you make frequent visits to the bank or to ATMs, their locations (and the fees paid for ATM withdrawals) may be the most important consideration in deciding where to open a checking account.