By Lauren Kontos

Whether you are a college grad or a small business owner, it’s never too early or too late to learn about smart banking. Doing your proper research on how to bank properly can save you hundreds. For instance, be wary of ATM fees. Some banks, like KeyBank offer reimbursement if you are charged at an ATM. Make sure to always check if there is a charge before you withdrawal or deposit.

Another important element to know when banking, is to not be afraid about having separate accounts. For personal use, have a checking and savings account. When you get a paycheck, split up what amount will go into checking and what amount goes into savings. Use your checking account for your day-to-day activities, like groceries, shopping, and taking out physical cash. I’d suggest checking to see if your bank allows overdrafts. If it does not, then when you do not have sufficient funds, the transaction will be declined. If they do, then an overdraft can kick with the amount you overspent, which can lead you to paying overdraft fees. Some banks offer overdraft protection so that you will not be charged when you pay with insufficient funds. Savings account should be used for big expenses (or things you are try to save up for). If you have a credit card bill, it may be better to use your savings account to pay for it.

If you are a small business owner, then make sure that you make a separate banking account for your business. Not only will you prevent your personal savings from being depleted from all the costs, but also banks tend to have more benefits and options for business accounts, such as tax deductions, multiple signers, and lines of credit.

If you are new to banking or are trying to change your primary bank, do your research! Look up opportunities each banks have, like overdraft protection, interest payments on loans, credit card fees, and of course the bank’s overall reputation. This applies regardless if you are a business owner or for personal finances. But once you’ve decided on which bank to work with, start establishing a good relationship! Having a good relationship with your banker allows for both of you to gain trust for one-another. If your banker knows who you are, and knows that you are a good client, they’ll be more likely to offer you better finance opportunities or approval for things such as loans.

One last thing to know in order to bank smart is to keep up with your finances! Make sure you know how much you are spending in relation to how much you have. Get into mobile banking so you can easily see your balances without needing to go to the bank or ATM. And make sure that what you are being charged for is something that you’ve actually bought; many banks offer fraud alters and prevention in case of suspicious activity.

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