For most people, the process of choosing their first bank is usually influenced heavily by where they grow up or by where their parents already have an account. But how do you know if that bank is the right fit for you? What happens if you move away and your local bank doesn't have a branch nearby? If you don't already have a checking and savings account set up, it's probably a good time to get started!
Whether it's a traditional bank, a credit union, or an online bank, virtually everyone will need to have a relationship with a financial institution at some point in their lives. (Otherwise, how will you safely store your money once you get a job?) The main differences between these three institutions are that online and traditional banks are for-profit, while credit unions are non-profit. Credit unions tend to focus more on customer service and have lower fees, but can come with higher interest rates. Banks typically have higher fees, but can offer more accessibility in terms of location, mobile banking, and more robust rewards programs. Online banks are becoming more and more popular over time, as they are able to offer lower fees and better customer service than some of their traditional counterparts.
Most standard checking accounts will come with a debit card. Debit cards look almost identical to credit cards, but they function in a very different way. A debit card is tied directly to your bank account, which means money is immediately subtracted from your account each time you make a purchase or a withdrawal from an ATM. Financial institutions can also provide ATM cards, which can only be used to withdraw money at an ATM or sometimes deposit money into your account at an ATM depending on your bank.
Do you know how to properly fill out a check? Watch the video below, and then put it to the test with this interactive activity!
- Best Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts, and Banks/Credit Unions of 2019 via NerdWallet
- What are Online Banks?
- Choosing Between eBanks and Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Banks
- Common ATM Fees by Bank
- How to Fill Out a Check
Sign Up For a Counseling Session
To schedule a session with a counselor, please email PeerFinanceCounseling@virginia.edu with your name, the time and day you want to meet, and a brief summary of your questions. The Peer Financial Counseling headquarters is located on Central Grounds, in Room 245 of the Dathel and John Georges Student Center. Counselors will be holding office hours from 2 - 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, each week.