How to Make Your Bank Account Work Harder

Selecting and managing a bank account might seem like a relative no-brainer in the money world. More “intense” tasks wait around the corner, like selecting investments for your portfolio or figuring out how to save for a home.

But giving banking your attention once in a while is a smart idea, and a good way to make sure you’re getting the most from your account. It’s important to select the bank that will fit best with your goals and provide you with the most benefits for your loyalty.

Here are a few ideas of what to look for in your bank account:

  1. Use your debit card reward program, which many banks offers in addition to a credit card rewards system. The points may not accumulate as fast but they will still be worth far more than what most accounts are paying out in interest these days.
  2. If any discount services are available through the same system, take advantage. You can often get certain percentages off your online and offline purchases if you shop with your card and through the bank’s site.
  3. Use discounts on associated services offered at the bank, like getting cashier’s checks or opening a safe deposit box.
  4. Consolidate accounts at your favorite institution to get the best services and offers and exceed some of the account and balance minimums that many banks set.
  5. Use the bank’s bill pay system to avoid payment fees from vendors or to schedule automatic payments so you never forget to send the checks.
  6. Find a bank that doesn’t charge you fees for things like account maintenance, ATM use, or common services, or get an account level that lets you enjoy those privileges for meeting certain balance minimums or other requirements.
  7. Take advantage of the increasingly frequent remote deposit feature where you can either scan or photograph your checks to deposit them without having to make a trip to the bank.
  8. Every so often, take the opportunity to meet with a banker in person to discuss your unique financial needs. You can get a lot more mileage from a face-to-face meeting and discover options that might not be evident from a banking website or a list of options.
  9. Use automatic account alerts to monitor suspicious activity and provide red light cameras for your money.

Bottom line: Take a detailed look at what your current bank offers beyond the simple checking services you receive. Don’t feel like you have to settle for what your current bank offers, either–there are many institutions to pick from.

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