How to choose the best bank for your bucks

Some banks offer more than 3% interest on savings accounts

SAN ANTONIO – If high fees, piddling interest on your savings, and poor customer service sound like your bank, it may be time to break up with your bank.

Consumers have a lot of options, from traditional walk-in branches to credit unions to online-only banks, which have no branches at all.

“Each type of bank has positives and negatives. So it’s important to figure out what’s most important to you when you’re looking for a bank. You might even find that it makes sense to bank at more than one place at a time,” said Consumer Reports’ Scott Medintz.

If in-person customer service is important to you, a walk-in bank is your best bet. But even then, it pays to shop around.

“You should pay a visit to any bank that you’re considering becoming a part of, to make sure it has everything you need, that the hours make sense for your life, and that the staffing is really up to snuff,” he said.

Looking for the best savings rates? Websites like Bankrate and NerdWallet can help. A quick search turned up nearly a dozen banks paying interest of 3 percent or better.

Before you jump at that promotion for a free checking account or high-interest savings account, be sure to read the fine print.

“A supposedly free checking account isn’t really a bargain if it hits you with huge fees when you overdraft by a few dollars or for other reasons,” Medintz said.

Changing banks requires some planning: Be sure to open the new account before closing your existing one. If you use direct deposit, change it to the new account, as well as any automatic bill payments. And, keep your old account open until all checks and payments have cleared or you could be hit with fees.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.