Not everyone has the best banking experience. If you have been rejected at an institution because you do not have a US ID or have frequently had to pay high bank fees that have become too much, it is understandable that you have a hesitant attitude towards banking.
But while it would be easy to walk away from banks altogether and not engage with banks, it is hard to ignore the role that banks play in personal finance. Bank accounts provide a secure place to store money and are widely used for transactions.
Moreover, not all financial institutions are the same. If you had a bad experience with a bank or were denied service in institutions because of your history, you still have options.
To help guide you through your banking journey, here are some tips for not only qualifying for a proper bank account but for managing it appropriately in the long run.
Look for lenient account opening requirements
Some institutions have more lenient bank account requirements that address systemic barriers in banking, such as a lack of access.
For example, credit unions designated by Juntos Avanzamos allow you to open a bank account regardless of your immigration status. If you don’t have an American ID, this is
Foreign passport or Matricola consulate pass as photo ID. Also, you are allowed to use an ITIN instead of a Social Security number.
If you experienced involuntary account closure from your previous organization, banks and other credit unions may continue to offer financial services or products that you can use.
Some financial institutions offer a low-risk account that does not allow you to withdraw or write checks.
Avoid bank fees
Have you been stuck with monthly service fees, overdraft fees, or out-of-network ATM transaction fees in the past? Your primary concern should be finding free bank account options. This way, you won’t be charged if your account balance falls below a certain amount or if you use an out-of-network ATM.
Our guides mostly include savings and checking accounts that don’t charge any monthly fees, so learning about these institutions is a good place to start. You’ll also likely find more account options at online banks or local financial institutions.
Prioritize Free Overdraft Protection
With banks that do not offer free overdraft protection, you will usually have to worry about insufficient funds charges or overdraft fees.
Overdraft protection is basically a line of defense against a costly mistake. It covers an overdraft through a line of credit or an account transfer.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for an institution that lets you transfer money from another bank account and doesn’t charge fees. By seeking this type of overdraft protection, you won’t open a line of credit with the organization or pay a fee for using it.
Some banks or credit unions automatically extend overdraft protection when you open an account. Others require filling out a form.
Look for compatible customer service
Developing a good relationship with a bank depends on good communication. If you have a question or inquiry, or want to dispute a fee, the correct bank will have a customer service representative available when needed.
Traditional banking hours may not work on everyone’s schedule. Therefore, we have compiled a list of 27 banks with 24/7 customer support.
If you’re not a fan of communicating with customer service over the phone, you might prefer a bank that allows you to chat with a live representative online.
Select any additional banking features that suit your needs
Finding the right bank account will take some time. After all, you’ll want to compare two options so you don’t unnecessarily compromise on your needs (our review center will help you with that).
In addition to all the above tips mentioned, these unique banking features may also put you on a better path to manage your account:
- Powerful Mobile App / Online Banking: If you find it difficult to keep track of your account balance, find an organization that makes it easy to view your account in different ways – such as by computer or phone. While you’re at it, check out the app’s ratings to see if these features are easy to navigate.
- Tools/Saving Buckets: Online banks and online banking platforms often have features that allow you to save toward financial goals. Explore these options if you prefer banking without physical locations.
- Unique accounts: Some organizations have high-yield savings accounts, high-yield checking accounts, rewards checking accounts, or accounts with rewards. Our guides will guide you through some of the most attractive accounts.