13 Banking Questions to Ask Before Opening an Account
Looking to open a new bank account? Find the right bank for you by asking these key banking questions.
Contributing Writer at Tally
December 1, 2021
When you decide it’s time to open a new bank account, you can walk into any bank, apply for an account and start using it on the spot. However, months down the road you may be surprised to discover the bank isn’t working out well for you.
Whether it's too many fees, too few branches, too low of an interest rate or another tedious issue, you wish you’d known upfront what you’re finding out now.
So, what questions are smart to ask before opening a new bank account? Keep reading to learn more.
Banking questions to ask
These 13 banking interview questions will ensure you're signing up for the right bank before opening an account.
Are you a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)?
You should receive a "yes" to this banking question and see it on all the bank's advertisements, but it's better to ask than to assume.
The FDIC is a federal insurance company that covers your deposits at the bank in the event of a bank failure. It protects up to $250,000 per person, per institution. If you have two bank accounts at two different banks, each account has $250,000 in coverage, for a total of $500,000.
However, if you have two accounts with the same bank, you're only covered for up to $250,000 spread across both accounts.
What account types do you offer?
You may only be opening an entry-level checking account now, but what if you want to open or link other accounts in the future? Another helpful banking question to ask is which types of accounts the bank offers, since trying to open and link accounts at multiple banks can be tedious.
Check to see if the bank offers brokerage accounts for investing in the stock market, IRAs for building your retirement, certificates of deposit (CDs) and high-yield savings accounts (HYSAs) for earning higher interest on your savings.
Do you offer online banking?
In the digital world, online banking has become a must-have for many people. It lets you check your account balances, transfer money, view financial statements and more without having to physically visit the bank.
Some online banking sites even offer in-depth tools that help you manage your budget and view your cash flow online. While it might seem like a no-brainer that the entire banking sector offers this, it's a recommended banking question to ensure your potential new bank isn’t living in the past.
Do you offer mobile banking?
With cell phones being our go-to devices for just about everything, a mobile banking app is a must for many tech-savvy people, making this an important banking question as well. These apps allow you to do nearly everything through online banking, from anywhere with a cell signal.
Plus, with your smartphone's built-in camera, mobile check deposits are just a few snapshots from completion.
What is the interest rate and requirements to earn said rate?
Many bank accounts— even checking accounts —offer an annual percentage yield (APY), which is the interest the bank pays you for the money you deposit there. Before opening an account, one banking question you might ask is, "What's the interest rate and what terms must I meet to earn that rate?"
Many banks have no terms for earning the highest rate of interest on checking or savings accounts, but CDs, money market accounts and HYSAs may have them.
Some banks also offer bonus interest up to a certain balance for meeting specific requirements, like a set number of transactions over a period of time. For example, a bank may offer 4% APY on up to $3,000 if you perform 10 debit card transactions per month.
Do you charge out-of-network ATM fees?
ATMs have specific networks. Some are networked within a financial institution, like your bank, while others may be owned and networked by a large ATM company. If you stop by an ATM at a gas station or a bank that's not partnered with your bank, there's a good chance you're using an out-of-network ATM.
The ATMs themselves will likely charge you a fee, but some banks will also charge you an out-of-network ATM fee on the side. You'll see these potential charges in the terms of the account, but it's wise to ask this banking question upfront instead of digging through the terms after the fact.
Another banking question you might want to ask is if the bank will reimburse you for any fees ATMs charge you. Some banks will refund a certain number of these fees, particularly banks without their own network of ATMs.
What are my fraud liabilities?
With online shopping, it's easier than ever for hackers to snag your debit card information. Ask the bank about its fraud and identity theft protection measures and what your liabilities are for fraudulent charges. Every bank will differ slightly, but avoid any bank that puts fraud liability 100% on your shoulders.
Do you offer overdraft protection?
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you might mistakenly overdraft your account from time to time. So, another banking question worth asking is if the bank offers overdraft protection.
Instead of hitting you with an overdraft fee, banks that offer overdraft protection will cover the charge without fees, as long as repayment of the overdraft happens within a specific period of time.
Other banks will also allow you to connect a savings account to your checking account. If you overdraft, the bank automatically transfers the overdraft amount from savings to checking and doesn't charge you a fee.
What is your pricing for other services?
In the banking industry, there's a range of other financial services for account holders, including credit cards, wire transfers, international transactions, online transfers and more. Make a list of the services you expect to use frequently and find out the fees the bank charges for each.
For example, if a large percentage of your income comes through wire transfer and the bank charges a $30 incoming wire fee for each transaction, it’s important to know this before opening an account.
How many bank branches do you have?
For some people, it's crucial to have a physical bank they can walk into for in-person answers or services. One banking question these people would want answered is how many branches their bank has.
If it's a small-town bank, it likely has only one or two locations. However, a large corporate bank could have hundreds or thousands of branches nationwide. There are also some online banks that have no branches at all, like Ally and Chime.
What other fees do you charge?
With the banking industry getting more competitive and online banks with lower overhead costs reducing and eliminating many fees, it’s important to ask about the fees the bank charges. Some smaller banks and those resistant to change may still charge monthly maintenance fees, check processing fees, ATM fees and others.
When you ask this banking question, the bank is on the hook to provide you with a fee sheet you can review and compare with other banks.
What is the daily spending limit on the account?
Many accounts include a daily spending limit to protect you from someone getting ahold of your account information and draining all your cash. However, some banks impose tighter limits that can impact your daily use if you make a lot of large transactions.
Asking the daily spending limit will allow you to determine how often you may reach this limit and if it’s worth the hassle.
What is the minimum monthly balance on the account?
Minimum monthly balance requirements are becoming less common in today’s banking world, but this is still a worthwhile banking question.
Some smaller banks and those resistant to change may still impose this minimum by charging a monthly maintenance fee if you fall below it.
Keep in mind, some of these minimum balance requirements are so low it won’t impact you, so this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.
Ask the right banking questions before committing to a financial institution
With the right banking questions and answers, you can determine if the bank you're considering is right for you. Sure, you can change banks if you learn your current bank doesn't fit the bill, but opening a new account and transferring your cash can be a headache. Getting it right the first time can save you the stress.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 to $300.