1. Banking 101

Bank Location and Size

Most people who want an account at a brick-and-mortar institution want to use a bank that has a branch close to where they live and/or work so that visiting a teller and making deposits and withdrawals is convenient. If you don’t travel frequently, this could be a large, national bank or a smaller regional or community bank. If you do travel frequently, you’ll want to do some research to see which banks have locations where you find yourself most often. You’ll want to have easy access to your money when you’re out of town, a real person to talk to face to face if you have any problems, and no service charges for using out-of-network ATMs.

The other major consideration when it comes to size is that customer service may be better at smaller banks and that these banks take more of an interest in the local communities where they operate. There’s no universal rule, though, so if these factors are important to you, your best bet is to visit the bank in person and see what kind of experience you have.

If you choose an online-only bank, you’ll typically have access to a network of fee-free ATMs nationwide. Your bank may also reimburse you for a certain number of out-of-network ATM fees per month.

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