Choosing a New Bank

Unless you are already using a large national bank, you'll probably need to change banks when you move. Finding the bank that will best meet your needs depends largely on how you'll use your account, the services you need and the fees charged for those services. If you do need to change banks, these guidelines will help you choose one that's right for your financial situation.

  • Evaluate your saving and spending habits. To understand how you manage your money, ask yourself: How often will I have to withdraw money from my account? Do I have enough cash available to meet a minimum-balance requirement for a no-cost or interest-bearing checking account? Will I be able to keep that amount in my account? Can I get to the bank during banking hours, or do I need a bank that's open nights and weekends? Do I want the option of banking online or by phone?
  • Decide what is important to you. When you choose a bank, decide first what type of bank you want to use. There are retail banks (local and national), savings and loan associations, credit unions and online banks. Once you have decided which type of bank best suits your needs, you can narrow your options by comparing different banks' interest rates, fees and locations.
  • Weigh your options. If your banking needs are limited to a single savings account, you can probably just choose whatever bank pays the highest interest rate and charges the lowest fees. But as your needs grow to include checking accounts, online accounts and loans, choosing a bank may take a little more thought.

If you are going overseas, you'll want to make sure you can easily access your accounts, write and cash checks, and perform other transactions. Keep the following tips in mind before you go:

  • Your best choice may be a large, national bank or military credit union, but check with regional banks and "Internet banks" to see if they can provide the same services with lower fees.
  • Using credit cards and debit cards off installation and "on the economy" overseas is the most economical way to convert currencies. Bank card rates, even with foreign currency conversion and transaction fees, are almost always better than exchanging dollars for the local currency.
  • Your sponsor is a great person to ask for advice. Find out what works best at your new overseas assignment.

If you have experienced an unresolved issue with a company about a financial product or service, submit a complaint on the Consumer Complaint Database at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


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